Owain Williams: Red Carpet Interviews, LGBTQIA+ Performances, and Finding His “Cheerleading Squad” in Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2024 - 23:25

Owain Williams is widely known in the realms of children’s television, musical theatre, and red-carpet premieres.

In this exclusive interview, he reveals how he went from being a law student to interviewing the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Justin Bieber, starring in the West End’s Priscilla the Party!, becoming a role model for LGBTQIA+ young people, and signing with Bronia Buchanan’s talent agency.

How Owain Made It Into the World of Entertainment

Owain always knew he wanted to be a performer. “Ever since I saw my first pantomime when I was four years old, I was like, ‘How do I get to do this?’” he says. He got involved with performing opportunities at school, but entertaining beyond this “felt far away in terms of practicality.”

Given that Owain was academic at school, he was encouraged to treat performing as “something to fall back on,” using his “good grades” to pursue a traditional career. Accepting this approach, Owain went to Warwick University to study law.

“I chose Warwick because it had a thriving student theatre scene,” Owain says. “I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to need to balance out the academia with creativity.’ For the three years I was there, I was a lot more in the rehearsal room than in lectures.”

Transition From Law to Performing

Owain is “a firm believer you will live the path that’s been designed in the cosmos for you.” Having joined the University of Warwick’s Musical Theatre Society, he met a friend who went to the Royal Academy of Music. Owain decided to attend the Academy too. “All of a sudden, what felt so far away felt much closer,” he says.

On top of this, during his final year of law school, Owain landed the leading role in a Royal Shakespeare Company festival performance of West Side Story.

“One of my professors, who used to be an actor before going into law, came to see it. He was like, ‘You have to do this. If you don’t try, you are going to regret it,’” Owain says.

“All of a sudden, law became the thing I could fall back on. He was like, ‘If you don’t scratch this itch, you’ll never know. And law is hard enough of a career without having something else you’re good at that could bring you a lot of joy.’”

“I applied for schools, to do a post-grad course in musical theatre. The rest is history. I haven’t had to fall back on law yet.”

The Highlight of Owain’s Theatre and Television Career So Far

Owain has played numerous roles — both onstage and onscreen — and hosted live events. Of his many entertainment highlights, his favourite so far is “being cast in the 25th-anniversary production of Les Misérables.”

This experience was “pretty epic” because Les Mis was the first West End show Owain went to see (when he was 15). It was also the last show he performed in with his amateur dramatics group in his hometown before going to university.

The show played at “amazing theatres” like the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the Barbican Centre in London, and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. “The French audiences went absolutely crazy for [the show],” Owain says. “They loved it. It was like being a member of One Direction for the summer.”

The tour finished at the O2 arena in London, where Owain performed with 25 years’ worth of casts. “If you get to do your dream show, that’s the way to do it,” he says.

Becoming A Children’s Television Presenter

Owain’s journey into presenting for children’s television is another example of his path unfolding “the way it’s supposed to happen,” even if this path takes unexpected turns.

After finishing the 25th-anniversary production of Les Mis, Owain reached the final part of the audition process to play one of the leads in the West End production. “It didn't go my way and I was devastated,” Owain says.

However, at the same time, a TV producer asked Owain to audition for a presenting role on a children’s television series. Although the screen test went well, he missed out on the opportunity as the producers needed male and female presenter counterparts and they already had a male in mind.

“But again, the universe worked its magic,” Owain says. The producers were so impressed by him that they created an “our man in London role on the red carpet.” This role saw Owain become a correspondent at film premieres and award ceremonies. He also went behind the scenes of major TV series like The X Factor and Coronation Street.

In this role, Owain’s first gig was at one of the Twilight premieres with the saga’s three leads: Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, and Kristen Stewart. “The red carpet was a mile long. That’s how big a deal it was,” Owain says.

A few years later, Owain landed the presenting role he originally auditioned for. Then he moved on to Saturday morning children’s television and was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA. He presented on children’s TV for most of a decade to be “of service to young people, bring joy and levity into their lives, and be an ambassador.”

Why Owain Loves Working on Live Television

Owain loves that, when working on live television, “you just have to go with it.” Live television “invites you to think on your feet, let go of mistakes and accept they’re going to happen, and allow yourself to be human,” he says. “In my experience, this connects you to the audience even more.”

Owain remembers watching Dermot O’Leary in Big Brother’s Little Brother when he was at school. Dermot would laugh off mistakes, which was “very attractive” to Owain. “I’ve always kept him in mind, making himself relatable,” he says.

It’s not surprising that mistakes come up, as there’s often lots to take in on live television. “You might be interviewing somebody whilst the gallery is in your ear giving you direction, whilst there’s something going on in the studio,” Owain says. “You could have a thousand kids screaming, the gallery having a panic, and your co-presenter having a meltdown.”

“Everything around you can be crazy, but I trust myself because, at the end of the day, I’m the one I’ve got to rely on. I’ve just got to trust that the words will come out. I’ll know what question to ask. I’ll respond to whatever happens.”

How Owain’s Musical Theatre Experience Helps Him as a Presenter

Owain explains that some people find it difficult to switch between acting and presenting because “as an actor, you’re exploring a role, whereas as a presenter, you’re being yourself.”

That said, presenting has supported Owain’s musical theatre endeavours because it’s helped him build his stamina and learn how to look after his voice, particularly if he’s “doing big live events with tens of thousands of people.”

“Knowing how to look after my vocal health has been very, very important,” Owain says. “And filming series can be long days with unsociable hours. Having worked in theatre for years before going into TV presenting, I was used to that.”

On top of this, theatre comes with lots of rejections. “I think that really prepared me for TV presenting, which can feel so personal when you’re a presenter because you really are the product,” Owain says.

Owain’s Secret to Being a Good Interviewer and His Top Interviews

Owain describes his secrets to being a good interviewer as “listening” and “being myself.”

When he was presenting on red carpets, PR companies often positioned him “in really good spaces on the press line” because they knew he would put celebrities “in a good mood” when they were used to “answering the same old questions a bazillion times.”

“Sometimes we’d go completely off-topic or see a side of an A-list celebrity that people hadn’t seen before. I was just being myself and listening and going with it,” Owain says.

Some of Owain’s favourite interviews include conversations with Sir David Attenborough, Robin Williams, Justin Bieber, and Nicole Scherzinger.

David Attenborough

When Owain interviewed David Attenborough, “It was the year that selfies became a thing. The word selfie had just been incorporated into the dictionary,” Owain explains.

“On the red carpet, I was taking selfies with as many famous faces as I could. I asked Sir David Attenborough if he knew what a selfie was. He was like, ‘No.’ I explained it to him and said, ‘Can I have a selfie with you?’”

“He was like, ‘Well, this will be my first-ever selfie.’ I took it and then he looked at it. He was like, ‘But if we’re both in it, isn’t it a demi selfie?’ I was like, ‘Oh my days. This is mind-blowing.’ So, he said that was his first-ever selfie and I’m going to use that as a claim to fame.”

Robin Williams

Owain has also interviewed Robin Williams, one of his childhood heroes. “I asked him if he could do a Welsh accent and he tried,” Owain says. “I was so starstruck to meet him because Aladdin and Mrs Doubtfire were my childhood.”

Justin Bieber

Owain interviewed Justin Bieber on behalf of the British press at the launch of his wax figure at Madame Tussauds. “He came through and gave me this bro hug. It was very, very surreal,” Owain says. He’s “one of the most famous people in the world and yet there we were fist bumping and bro-ing.”

Nicole Scherzinger

Another of Owain’s favourite interviews took place behind the scenes of The X Factor when he was interviewing the contestants. “I was doing a link in the corridor where all the judges’ dressing rooms were,” Owain says. “As a joke, I knocked on Nicole Scherzinger’s dressing room door to be like, ‘Oh, I wonder if she’s in?’”

“I didn’t think anything would happen but then somebody opened the door and went, ‘Hi.’ The camera was still rolling, so I was like, ‘Well, just go with it.’ I went, ‘Oh, hi. I was wondering if I could have a chat with Nicole?’ He shut the door. Two seconds later, the lady herself appeared.”

“She was like, ‘Hello, how are you?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God. Hi, Nicole.’ She took my arm and she said, ‘Walk with me.’ So we had this interview walking down the corridor that looks absolutely epic.”

Owain’s Current Work: Starring in Priscilla the Party!

Owain is currently one of the lead actors in Priscilla the Party! at Outernet in Soho, London. When Bronia Buchanan’s office called him about the opportunity, he got “very excited,” having already seen and loved the show in the West End.

Although Owain’s auditions went well, he got a note he’d never received before in the final round. “I was too butch,” Owain says. “They were like, ‘Can we put you in a pair of heels?’ The pair of heels that fitted were Jason Donovan’s, who originated the role that I’m now playing in London. I was like, ‘Well, if the shoe fits. Bam, this is a good omen.’”

Playing the roles of Tick and Mitzi, Owain feels “in a permanent state of, ‘Pinch me.’ To be entrusted with a lead in the West End in a show I love that is representative of the queer community, I feel like a custodian of something very, very special.”

The Entertainment World’s Celebration of the LGBTQIA+ Community

Since returning to theatre after his TV presenting days, Owain has been “pleasantly surprised” by “how things have changed” when it comes to acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In Priscilla the Party!, “there’s somebody of every flavour in the cast, creative team, and crew,” Owain says. There are also conversations underway about bringing more diversity to the staff who will be working at Outernet to support the production.

“I feel it is important as a gay man to be playing a gay role, to be telling a gay story,” Owain says. “And we have trans actors cast in trans roles telling the trans experience. We’re having our voices heard, not only onstage but also in interviews outside.”

A Role Model for Children

Although many actors haven’t had the opportunity to share their LGBTQIA+ story, this isn’t the first time Owain has voiced his experience. When working on children’s television, he took part in a short film where he explained what Pride means to him.

“It was an incredible opportunity to share my story, which I’d never done in such a public forum before,” Owain says. By taking part in the film, he wanted to be a role model for young people who are unsure about their sexuality and how this might impact their lives. He also wanted to reassure parents that how their children identify doesn’t “need to hold them back.”

Awakening Society to Support Marginalised Individuals

Owain reflects on the time when Tom Daley came out in 2013. “Some people were like, ‘Well, does it need to be a big deal?’” Owain says. “I get where they’re coming from. Should people feel like they need to come out? Does it need to be the most important thing about them? Absolutely not.”

“However, somebody somewhere is going to need to see that an Olympic-medal-winning athlete can live as himself. Somebody needs to see that a BAFTA-nominated children’s TV presenter can live as himself.”

“By sharing our stories, regardless of how they’re received, that’s how we awaken society and carve out more space for people that have been marginalised and are still being marginalised.”

“I think it’s important to not rest on our laurels,” Owain says. “There’s always more we can do, particularly when you hear of awful things that are happening very close to home. It’s not something that only happens in other countries. It’s happening on the home turf: discrimination, prejudice, abuse, attack. So visibility is so important.”

Speaking directly to those in the LGBTQIA+ community who would like to pursue careers in the entertainment space, Owain says: “It’s okay to be yourself. In fact, that’s your superpower. Nobody else can do you like you. Find your tribe, find the cheerleaders who are going to celebrate your wins, hold you through the losses, call you out on things, and love you through it all no matter what.”

How Owain Met His Talent Agent Bronia Buchanan

Owain met Bronia Buchanan, the owner of talent agency BBA Management, in his early career when he landed the role of Steve Strange in the 10th-anniversary production of Taboo.

Bronia Buchanan was producing the show, which “we got to recreate with the original team in a really cool way in a converted nightclub in Brixton,” Owain says. That time “holds a very special place” in his memories because of the people he met, Bronia Buchanan included.

During Owain’s successful television presenting career, he developed such strong relationships with TV companies that he stopped working with agents.

“But then I made the decision to leave children’s television,” Owain says. “I’d done everything I wanted to do and I wanted some new challenges. I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to need to get some help with this. I need to meet with agents.’”

Catching up with Bronia Buchanan, Owain agreed to organise a meeting with her talent agent team. “It was like going back to that cheerleading squad,” Owain says. “She believed in me. She believed, ‘Yeah, you could come back to theatre or go into TV acting, even having been out of the industry for a while.’”

Owain met Bronia Buchanan’s team and was “impressed by their relaxed attitude but also their assertiveness. It felt forward-moving without being intimidating,” Owain says. “I knew as I left the room, ‘I absolutely want to work with them.’ It just felt right.”

Working With Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management: One Year Later

Just over a year later, Owain finds working with Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management “invaluable.” He mainly works with Jessica Singer on his musical theatre projects and Gails Fox on his TV presenting opportunities. That said, the BBA team works cohesively, so “it’s not like I’m with one particular agent,” Owain says.

“I’ve got a team who gets that I’m not just one thing. I have different areas that I want to pursue. I’m receiving the guidance and the support that I really need and want. I feel really, really held and supported by them — and celebrated.”

Where We Can Expect to See Owain Next

Now working with Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management, Owain has new plans in his pipeline. He’s just finished filming for a new television series where he gets to know celebrities and the people and places that have shaped who they are.

“It was all unscripted, which invited a lot of empathy, emotional intelligence, listening, talking about tough stuff, and bringing some of my own vulnerability into it,” Owain says.

“I really wanted to do this series because it was an opportunity to carry a message, to help other people, to help audiences that might not have heard their story or their issues spoken about in such a way on television before.”

This is also why Owain loved presenting on children’s television: “Having parents of children reaching out and saying thank you, or, ‘You don’t know this, but you helped my son because…’ That goes beyond all the ego stuff and the glitz and glam.”

About Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management

Owain is one of many outstanding actors and creatives that Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management represents. Under Bronia Buchanan’s careful guidance, an expert team of agents supports each of these actors and creatives, helping them land high-profile roles and guiding them through these.

Learn about the actors that Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management represents.

Main image: Owain Williams by  https://www.sammackayphoto.com/.

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