Matt William Knowles is an actor, singer, model, and host from South Carolina who, in the space of under 10 years, has been making huge waves as a movie & television star in China. Otherwise known as MaTai (马泰), Matt, after a successful career of weekly prime-time appearances, now sets his eyes on international success across the globe. He is the first non-asian to study acting at the Beijing Film Academy, an institution that has grown some of China’s biggest talents, where he was on full-scholarship from the Chinese government. Knowles also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he attained a Masters degree to bolster his already-impressive portfolio.
Knowles grew up in South Carolina a talented athlete and standout player for the Clemson Tigers. The young heartthrob had aspirations to join the NFL; however, he suffered a knee injury which required three separate surgeries, shooting down his football dreams. Undeterred, Knowles decided to dedicate himself to volunteer work. From 2009-2011, he selflessly lent aid in the town of Duyun, within the impoverished Guizhou province, where he taught English and soon became fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Eventually, Knowles was signed into Universe Spring Talent Agency as their first foreign actor, kick-starting his career.
Leveraging his unique position as a tall, handsome American – fluent in Mandarin and with a royal flush of talents – it was here that Knowles found his start in modelling and entertainment. He was a Gladiator and contestant on “American Gladiators”-esque show Happy Birds, and a charming weekly host for the travel program This is Chengdu. He has also stretched his vocal chords as a singer on shows such as Want to sing and Spring Festival Memories collaborating on songs with stars such as Jackie Chan. Eventually, Matt was cast for roles in both television and film, including Vikingdom, Time to Show, Northern Attraction, Deng XiaoPing, and Eastern Battlefield. With such a wide array of appearances, the Chinese audience’s affection for the new American star blossomed, and ‘MaTai’ became a household name.
Matt William has since begun to bolster his acting portfolio with more dramatic works, appearing on Red Sorghum, the most popular Chinese television series of 2014. He also played the lovable Dr. Barnes on the highly-rated TV show Love Me If You Dare from 2015 to 2016, and Brigadier General Evans Carlson in Red Star Over China, a 30-episode long historical drama detailing the two-year Long March – a grueling expedition in 1934 that still captures the imagination of both historians and tourists alike. Most notably, Knowles was cast in a starring role as the demi-god ‘Rawa’ in mythological fantasy Asura. In 2018, Matt William earned the ‘Best Actor’ award by the Canada China International Film Festival for his performance as Charles Harris in the short film Poppies.
In 2019, Matt was chosen to perform a landmark role in the historic biographical drama Son of the South. The film is based off The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, an autobiography written after the Freedom Riders protests in 60’s America. Matt plays James Zwerg, and inspirational figure, present-day minister, and one of the only white Christians to join the Freedom Riders, who was hospitalized when a mob of 300 white supremacists attacked the bus in May 1961. A sign of further international success to come, Matt continues to bring both respect and gravitas to his dramatic performances.
Despite encountering roadblocks to his athletic career, Matt persevered and has achieved a great deal in under 10 years, from humanitarian and TV star, to performing rich and complex historical roles in hard-hitting biographies. Knowles’ rapid adjustment to a new way of living & tenacious work-ethic – as well as his sought-after talents as a presenter, singer and dramatic actor – have allowed him to enter a competitive market with great success and high aspirations for the future.
Fluent Chinese and English
Thai Boxing Professional
Swimming and Diving
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
MA Acting (2018)
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
Acting Shakespeare Summer Course
Baron Brown Studio
Santa Monica, CA
Beijing Film Academy
Performing Arts Foreign Scholar
The first Caucasian to ever study acting at BFA. Full Chinese Government Scholarship.
Clemson University (USA)
BS Civil Engineering
Full Scholarship, Varsity Football Letterman
Fine Arts Center
South Carolina, USA
Tested at 99th percentile of standardized testing.