You are here

Livestream Documentary & Discussion | Hollywood's Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story

The story of architect Paul R. Williams could have been concocted by a Hollywood screenwriter.

The first African American architect, Paul R. Williams became one of the most successful architects in the country for a half-century beginning in the early 1920s. Nicknamed “Architect to the Stars,” Williams designed homes for stars including Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Lucille Ball, and Desi Arnaz. Even at the height of his fame, Williams was sometimes excluded from the restaurants and hotels he designed and the neighborhoods where he built homes because of his race.

Watch the compelling but little-known story of how Williams used talent and perseverance to beat the odds, and hear more from filmmakers Royal Kennedy Rodgers and Kathy McCampbell Vance and ask your questions in real time. 


6:30 p.m. Welcome & Film Screening: Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story
7:30 p.m. Discussion with Filmmakers


This virtual program is presented live via Zoom. The online "waiting room" opens at 6 p.m., and the program will begin at 6:30  p.m. Participants can submit questions via the chat feature.
Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions. This program will be recorded.


Kathy McCampbell Vance (left) & Royal Kennedy Rodgers (right)Royal Kennedy Rodgers (she/hers, pictured right) is a producer, director, and writer with experience in local and network news, as well as public broadcasting television. She began her career as a reporter for NBC television stations in New Orleans, Cleveland and Chicago. Then, as an ABC Network News correspondent, based in Los Angeles, she covered assignments as diverse as breaking news, presidential politics, and the entertainment industry. She spent ten years as a producer/correspondent for “Chicago Tonight” at WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her professional awards include a local Emmy, and recognition from the San Francisco State School of Journalism, as well as from the American Association of Trial Lawyers. She is currently an independent producer based in Washington, DC.

Kathy McCampbell Vance (she/hers, pictured left) is an Emmy Award winning television producer, specializing in news, entertainment, and documentary production. Beginning at NBC4 Washington as a trainee reporter, in her more than 20 years at NBC 4 Washington, she rose through the ranks as news writer, show producer, executive producer, and ultimately Director of Programming, Community Affairs and Broadcast Standards. At NBC she executive produced live event programs, as well as local and syndicated shows for national and international distribution. Upon leaving that job, she continued to produce special news series and high-profile interviews for NBC, for Black Entertainment Television and more. Among her other awards is recognition from the National Black Media coalition for her contributions as an African American journalist.


Tune in from home to escape the cold Washington winter and immerse yourself in the stories of great American places and luscious garden estates.

Thursday, February 4 | Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story Documentary & Discussion with filmmakers Royal Kennedy Rodgers and Kathy McCampbell Vance
Thursday, February 11 | The Glory, Ruin, and Rebirth of Untermyer Gardens with Stephen Byrns
Thursday, February 18 |  Filoli: From Family Home to Cultural Center with Kara Newport
Thursday, February 25 | Expanding the American Story with Brent Leggs

  • Tudor-style brick home designed by Paul R. Williams
    Courtesy of Royal Kennedy Rodgers & Kathy McCampbell Vance
  • Brick home with balcony designed by Paul R. Williams
    Courtesy of Royal Kennedy Rodgers & Kathy McCambell Vance