Ki Williams

Talent manager who champions diversity at every turn

Story by Katy Ibsen
Photography by Jenae Green

A recent Los Angeles transplant, Ki Williams is reacquainting himself with the hustle of Hollywood as he was recently named the director of talent and partnerships at the entertainment agency Special Projects. While the California sun may be new to Williams, managing celebrities is not.

Just a month prior Williams was in his midtown Manhattan apartment, identifying keynote speakers and talent for HubSpot’s INBOUND conference. The conference is an annual multiday event, featuring industry leaders and celebrities who share their inspiration and insights on brand marketing for the customer relations management software company’s 68,000-plus customers and supporters.

When 2020 shut down in-person gatherings and saw the rise of the racial justice movement, Williams’ role in recruiting talent became even more important.

“What I’m seeing now in the industry is the commitment to diversity,” he says as he put together the program for this year’s conference, scheduled for Boston in October. “The commitment to showcasing different viewpoints, different perspectives of the world, and just different people.”

Williams, BS ’11, began his career as an entertainment manager at the fashion magazine Marie Claire, where he quickly realized that the publication lacked diversity.

“When I started at Marie Claire, I was in charge of helping with features, and looking through the pages, I’m like, ‘This is another white woman,’ just over and over,” he says. That’s why Williams, a 2018 Suffolk 10 Under 10 alumni honoree, made a strong commitment to champion diversity. He increased diversity among Marie Claire’s editorial content by 30%; and at INBOUND he increased the representation of Latino, Asian, and transgender speakers over several years.

He plans to apply the same vision at Special Projects, where he is currently working on Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood event scheduled for October.

“I’m a big proponent of making sure that whatever story I’m telling is representative of the people that are out there,” Williams says.

While INBOUND steered away from politics, Williams has pressed the organization to recognize that not all sensitive topics are political, and that doing the right thing can have a greater impact.

“This has just been such a hard year in the Black community. I understand that we are a tech company, we do need to talk about business, but this is a year that everyone is experiencing and to not talk about it, actually, is probably a very, big, glaring issue,” he says of racial justice.

“I think that’s what a lot of companies sometimes get afraid of, like they are going to say the wrong thing. I think if you are on the right side of history, you really shouldn’t be afraid of saying the right thing.”

Ki Williams, BS ’11

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