Williams shows off an impressive range of capabilities in the Disney Channel Original movie “Let It Shine,” premiering tomorrow (6/15). But he admits he ran into an unexpected challenge in the high-energy, Cyrano de Bergerac-inspired tale that’s set in the hip hop music realm. “I lost my voice a few times. You know, naturally my voice is pretty deep, so my rapping voice was deeper, so I had to push higher to get a younger sound out of the character,” he says. “It’s tough to do. At first you think, ‘Oh, this will be fine.’ But then you realize the toll it takes on your voice over time, especially recording essentially a whole album in two weeks.”
The “Let It Shine” soundtrack features Williams on eight of the tracks, a blend of hip hop, gospel and R&B.
“I’d been familiar with the Cyrano story before. I’d kind of played around with it in my acting class, so I thought this could be interesting,” Williams explains. “When I went in and I read for it, then I really became attached to it. I really started to feel a part of the project from, I would say, the screen test, when we started mixing and matching the people together. This is the first time I’ve ever had a mix-and-match when I wasn’t sure who was going to be cast.”
Coco Jones (Disney’s “Next Big Thing”) plays Roxanne and Trevor Jackson costars. “I thought it wouldn’t work because of how tall they were, with my average height,” the 5-foot-8 Williams admits. But he’s happy with the result. “I’m really proud of how it turned out. I feel like a proud parent and a kid who’s just graduated from college at once.”