At just 30 years old, Chris Williams is the youngest, black General Manager of a luxury car dealership in Georgia, and that’s just one of the many accomplishments on his resume. From homelessness to financial success, the businessman and former star of Lifetime’s hit reality show Married at First Sight has had his fair share of hardships, yet he bulldozes through them all while making a distinguished impact in leadership and within his community.

With drive, grit, and a good heart, Chris shares that these traits can go a long way, which has helped him achieve goals and break records taking his endeavors to new heights, including the Grand Opening of his Dena Motors dealership in Conyers, Georgia. Open to the public, this event on July 1st will be packed with food, fun, and cars…and you don’t want to miss it.

We had the pleasure of catching up with Chris, where we discussed his journey to success, overcoming the stress of negativity and life’s challenges, his passion for giving back, and more. Keep reading for the highlights from our exclusive chat!

Congrats on the opening of your newest dealership! Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do? 

I am a General Manager. So, basically I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations of the car dealerships and running all of the departments, managing employees, hiring, training, firing, handling inventory, sales, marketing…you name it. [Also] responsible for finance contracts and maintaining relationships with our billion dollar banks. We’ve been killing it, and outgrew the last place that we’re at and now we’re into a way bigger and better facility.

In a nutshell, talk us through your journey from living out of your car to landing major opportunities in your career.

Being homeless, I had moments where I was depressed, down, and didn’t know what life would necessarily bring. But, I did know that I did not want that to be the end all be all for me. The motivation that I had during my days off, was studying. I used to read and study books. I would get college textbooks and I would buy online books on my phone about business. So, I was kind of self taught when it came to business. I felt like that was the best way that I could invest in myself and perfect whatever craft that I had, so that I could use my talent to make more money. And I did all this when I was [living] in my car.

What advice would you give to someone who is navigating feelings of confusion or hopelessness in their careers?

Your passion doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what you should do, or that’s where your talent lies. Sometimes you find out more about yourself along the journey as you try new things. And that’s what I did when I was 20. I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m good at. I can’t sing or do some of these other things. So let me figure it out.’ And I realized I’m good at sales, good at negotiations, good at things that have to do with business, good at marketing, and decided to work on that. I took different jobs even before I found that out. And the jobs that I was taking, I promised myself that if I didn’t like it, I would quit and find another one. I swear, one year I had like 25 W-2s because I was trying to figure out what I was good at. And once I found what my niche was, I stuck with it.

What mentality do you attribute to your success?

It really comes down to my perspective and mentality on life, and my vision for my life. I’m self-motivated. When I wake up in the morning, I wake up with the intention of grinding hard and being the best that I can be. And also, making sure that I make an impact in others’ lives by leading by example. So, I never think that there’s something too hard for me, no matter what problem is presented to me. I feel like it’s just an opportunity to come up with a great solution. That’s really what my life is based on: Me having a million problems, finding solutions for each one of them, and not allowing any problem to make me run scared.

What was your experience like being on Married at First Sight?

It was a nightmare. And way worse after the show.

Why a nightmare?

I just felt like they just did shady stuff. People will never understand reality TV unless you are on reality TV. And I didn’t understand why Tamar Braxton was saying some of the stuff she was saying [about exploitation in reality TV] but like it’s legit. You literally have messy producers whose job is to create juicy content for TV. But it is what it is. The producers we had were good people, but their job was to create juicy activity surrounding the show. It was stressful. I was still working, still filming, still dealing with depression, had a baby mom, and a baby on the way.

If you could go back and change your experience, would you?

I think that I probably could do it again if I had a conversation with myself three or four years ago. I think I came in there with pure intentions. I was upfront about being previously engaged, and I found out after I got married [on the show] that I had a baby on the way. And I was upfront about it to the producers and the lady. They saw dollar signs and exploited the situation. I felt like the producers should have just ended it there but they kept trying to force me to film and threatening contracts. I felt like at that time I had no choice but to keep filming, but in reality I should’ve just walked away. 

Did it affect your career at all?

It tried to. But, I’m so good at what I do. People used it to their advantage. Employees would be like ‘you know he’s on TV’ and I’d be like ‘Shh, stop telling people that!’ And with customers, I’ll be talking to them about a car, and then they’d want to take pictures. One person asked if I was ‘the guy from Married at First Sight,’ and [then] said she didn’t want to buy a car at our dealership. But, we ended up pulling her credit, and she couldn’t even buy a car because her credit was so bad. But that was the only case where I had someone try to do something like that to me.

How did you filter through all of the noise, good and bad?

There’s a difference between a bad person and making bad decisions. And you have the opportunity to overcome them. You are not the temporary bad decisions that you’ve made. But, I won’t allow anybody to try to mistreat me when there’s bigger stuff going on in the world that’s bigger than reality TV. I know who I am, and I will not die as being the guy known for being on Married at First Sight. I will be known as a man who was a philanthropist, a billionaire, and [someone] who did great exploits. I’m 30 years old, and I’ve accomplished so much in such a short time. I’m figuring it out, and I don’t have a degree. I’m a highschool dropout, I have a GED, I went to the army. And I’ve accomplished so much because of my work ethic. A lot of people have opinions as to what you should do or how they think you should handle things, but they can’t walk a block in your shoes.

So I have to ask, post-show, what’s your “love life” like today?

I’m single! And if I never went outside or anything, I’d probably be fine. I get hit on a lot in my DMs. Women love bad boys, and I think I gave the appearance of a bad boy on the show. So, I get a lot of beautiful women from all over the world that hit on me. But, I don’t really want to date fans of the show. Because all they want to do is talk about the show on the date the whole time, and I don’t really want to talk about the show the whole time. I got on Hinge recently, but I don’t really have time to respond and talk on the app. And I’m constantly apologizing for it! I have like 60 messages. And the funny thing is, I didn’t verify my Hinge account, and this lady inboxed me this morning saying ‘I think somebody’s impersonating you on Hinge. If you want me to, I’ll report the profile.’ And I told her ‘Don’t report the profile because it’s mine!’

What can people expect from the Dena Motors Grand Opening this weekend? 

It’s gonna be an amazing time with crazy-fun activities. We have radio coming out, media coming out, food, and a ton of cars. And guess who else? I’m going to be there! We’re going to have a great time. I got everything from Porches, Range Rovers, Lamborghinis, to BMWs, we got everything for everybody. 

You’ve also been gifting cars to homeless and/or single mothers leading up to the opening…Why is it important for you to give back?

In reality it’s impossible to save the world. Because it’s not a one man job. I feel like giving back can influence other people to take action and make an impact in the way they’re supposed to give back. My old pastor used to say ‘you were born for the time that you’re needed the most.’ So I feel like a lot of us are here to help solve certain problems. Not in everybody’s life, but in certain individuals’ lives. And then it’s an ongoing residual effect, and that’s the type of effect that I’d like to have. And I also bless people because I want God to bless me. That’s the greatest return on investment. Investing in people and blessing people. 

Lastly, you’ve been involved in various business endeavors, is real estate something you’d tap into?

I’ve actually done a lot of fix and flips with a group of guys. Going forward I’m interested in real estate development. I actually took a course at Cornell university last year for real estate development. So, I have an interest in buying land and building subdivisions. And I also have goals of building apartment complexes as well. I would like to one day, maybe 20 years from now, own a high-rise building for retail and office space.

For more information about the grand opening and to keep up with Chris Williams, be sure to follow him on Instagram @chriswilliamsii.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.