MR. UNITED STATES — The Inspirational Journey of A Multi-Talented Southern Gentleman
With remarkable skills that range from acting to ballet to singing, the Baton Rouge-born and raised Avery D. Wilson is a perfect representation of the term “renaissance man”.
Though those talents have given him a high degree of success, the most important quality he possesses is that of being a 21st century Southern gentleman. All of those qualities catapulted him to win the prestigious honor of being named “Mr. United States” at the eponymous 2016 pageant held in New York, where Wilson competed as “Mr. Louisiana”.
After finishing as first runner-up at the 2017 Mr. Real Universe Pageant in Lima, Peru, Wilson continues to use his multitudinous performing abilities and his own immeasurable compassion to help him be a positive influence on generations of people. Though Wilson’s present-day accomplishments have deservedly given him renown, the story of his road to the pageant stage and beyond is equally astonishing.
Merging childhood photos and news footage with Wilson’s recollections of the moments that defined his life, Baton Rouge filmmaker Paul Catalanotto uncovers Wilson’s story in his acclaimed documentary short film, Mr. United States. The film was recently presented in April at the Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) in Baton Rouge, and is now an official selection for the upcoming PBS Online Film Festival in July.
During his youth, Wilson confronted both personal doubts about the kind of talent he wanted to focus on, and insecurities about his own sexual identity. With the support of his family and peers, Wilson would overcome those struggles as he developed an impressive repertoire of artistic abilities.
Wilson has danced for audiences throughout the world with several ballet troupes, and in productions of such Broadway hits as Fame, Rent and The Wiz. Wilson’s also worked with the musically fleet-of-foot as a choreographer on stage productions of Hairspray, Beauty and The Beast and Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
In the pageant world, Wilson has been a successful coach to hundreds of contestants. As shown by his accomplishments in 2016 and 2017, he’s been a successful contestant himself.
All those achievements aside, Wilson’s most impactful endeavor has been his L-O-V-E Matters empowerment campaign. With L-O-V-E spelled out as “Living Optimistic Values Everyday”, the campaign fuses Wilson’s artistic talents with his determination to affect everyday lives through the importance of a positive outlook.
Having worked with Wilson in the past, Catalanotto explains how Wilson — and his remarkable life — were critical to the creation of Mr. United States. “Avery inspired me (to make this film). He’s been a client of mine for a few years now,” says Catalanotto. “I’ve heard his story in parts as we would work on different projects. After he won the title, I asked if he would do a documentary, and he agreed. He showed up feeling very honest, and I’m glad he did. I think the finished film is something special — something that might inspire other people.”
While Catalanotto was moved by Wilson’s powerful story, he was profoundly touched by Wilson’s view of life. “His (Wilson’s) positivity is what surprised me,” the filmmaker replies. “I admire how he dealt with adversity through love. It takes a strong person to look at life that way. It’s that strength that won him the crown. In fact, he built an entire campaign (L-O-V-E Matters) built on those ideals.”
With the experience of bringing Mr. United States to moviegoers at the Louisiana International Film Festival as a treasured memory, Catalanotto takes pride in how the film will boost Wilson’s awareness among the public. “Any time you can show your audience (your film), it’s a benefit to the film,” he says. “I’m just happy that more people are aware of Avery, the Mr. United States organization, and his message. Thanks to LIFF, I’ve been able to meet other Louisiana filmmakers.”
As Wilson continues to prove to the world how feeling confidence in and love for yourself is crucial to happiness, Catalanotto hopes that Mr. United States will do the same. “I just want them to be inspired. It’s my hope that someone will watch the movie and realize it’s okay to be just as God made them.”
For more information about Avery D. Wilson and his work, visit his web site:
Avery D. Wilson is a multi-talented consultant specializing in the spiritual and physical growth of individuals through…
For more information on Mr. United States, visit the film’s Facebook page: