Meet Josh Wilson: Waterloo’s bright young media mind
By Robbie Wojciechowski
Josh Wilson doesn’t strike you as someone whose personality has been changed by success. Sat in his office, at the top of a high-rise block overlooking the South Bank, the young filmmaker and producer, who’s just 27, has been included in one of Forbes’s European 30 Under 30 lists, for Entertainment. The list also includes the likes of Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya, musician Rita Ora and boxer Anthony Joshua.
In a few years, Wilson has gone from having nothing to running a production company with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Toronto and London. Wilson Worldwide Productions has an impressive record of diversity, with over 80 per cent of its full-time employees coming from BAME backgrounds.
At 19, Lewisham-born Wilson was working in Toronto, helping a sales and marketing company open a new office. He had interned with them only a year earlier. By 22, he was back in London and re-training as a journalist.
“I think the times are gone where you stay in the same house for twenty or thirty years,” says Josh. “I’ve experienced so much from moving, from interacting with different types of people, seeing different mentalities. I think it’s very important to expand your horizons.”
His bold outlook, spotting opportunities to work internationally, has been the key to his success. Despite all this, his London office celebrates his beginnings. Posters of his favourite films, such as The Dark Knight and Fight Club, are up on the walls and portraits of staff members have been etched onto the glass window that faces out to the London Eye. Josh’s life hasn’t been without its challenges. When he first moved back to London from Toronto, his home situation was complicated. “I was staying with a family member, and they didn’t have a job at the time either, so I had to end up supporting them and making sure I could travel to work.”
He was sleeping on his relative’s floor, but those difficult experiences have always felt like his biggest inspiration. “Going through those storms, any issues I deal with now are no longer issues. It’s easier to figure them out.” says Wilson.
He was lucky enough to be donated some desk space in Waterloo and started to build his company. That first office was in the same building where he is now. Armed with determination, he began by ringing everyone he knew. “I worked very hard, lots of emails and meeting people, working with people, constantly meeting people, ideas. I had a meeting with Tough Mudder I’d set up, and from them I went to Sky.” That meeting became the meeting that would change everything. It was Josh’s first commission.
Mission Mudder premiered on Sky. It tracked six Olympians as they took on some of the most extreme courses against the best teams in the infamous Tough Mudder endurance event. Wilson has also made films for Sky Sports on Olympians chasing their dreams. His latest project involves adapting Jeffrey Archer’s False Impression into a drama and spin-off documentary series. But it’s through working for brands that he finds most of the company’s work.
He has always been keen to provide opportunities for other young people. “My purpose is bigger than myself, being a positive example to people who have been historically told that they can’t do this because of their socio-economic background,” says Josh.
Recently, he has set up the charity Genisys, which aims to help young people pursue careers in the arts. “It’s key we’re constantly providing new opportunities, and finding new talent. I want to make sure that charitable endeavours are at the forefront of what we do.” He adds that he’s motivated by “helping people on a global scale”.
With all his grand ambitions, I can’t help but ask him what makes him feel at home in SE1. “I was born and raised in London,” he says. “I have mentality of a Londoner. There’s a unique mindset and mentality that comes from being here that is really beautiful. Being around an environment like that, with people and opportunities, that’s what makes me feel at home.”