Jes­sica Wil­liams says it’s a 'great time' to be an ac­tor of color

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Jes­sica Wil­liams says it's a great time to be an ac­tress of color, and ap­plauds Net­flix for lead­ing the way in pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity. Wil­liams, who cut her teeth as a correspondent on "The Daily Show," takes on her first star­ring role in the stream­ing net­work's orig­i­nal film, "The In­cred­i­ble Jes­sica James ." The ac­tress feels Net­flix helped shape sto­ries about peo­ple of color, cit­ing orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming like "Mas­ter of None" and "Orange is the New Black" that are able to "show­case peo­ple of color in an amaz­ing way."

While in­clu­sion con­tin­ues to im­prove, es­pe­cially on Net­flix, Wil­liams says the strug­gle for racial equal­ity is far from over. "I think it's a dif­fi­cult time in some ways to be a per­son of color, and I think the same for ac­tors of color, but I also think it's a great a time. Be­cause I think now ... there's so much more room, I think, for us to be seen, and there's room for us to cre­ate our own sto­ries," Wil­liams said. Wil­liams feels great pride that she's part of move­ment to­ward greater di­ver­sity on screen, call­ing it some­thing that makes her heart warm and sing. She said she re­mains mind­ful of the ac­tresses who paved the way.

"It's like so many black ac­tresses that came be­fore me and my gen­er­a­tion. They came be­fore and they did not nec­es­sar­ily have this op­por­tu­nity that I feel like I have now, and so I'm re­ally grate­ful for that, and I re­ally do think it's a re­ally great time to be an ac­tress that is black, in a way," she said. But that doesn't make shift­ing gears from a com­edy news show to a fea­ture film an easy choice. Wil­liams cer­tainly felt some trep­i­da­tion with the move. "I was re­ally ner­vous be­cause this movie does have com­edy in it. It also has a lot of heart, and some sweet mo­ments. So I was wor­ried whether I would be able to por­tray that or not. But I had a lot of fun do­ing it, and I found out that I could," she said.

Writ­ten and directed by Jim Strouse - who pre­vi­ously directed Wil­liams in his 2015 film, "Peo­ple Places Things" - the story was writ­ten with Wil­liams in mind. Her de­sire was to cor­rectly de­pict the "life of a mod­ern, young black woman," and took it a step fur­ther by also tak­ing on the role as an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer. "Just in case I had things to say cre­atively," Wil­liams said. Strouse called Wil­liams a com­edy ninja and the right ac­tress to por­tray the ever-chang­ing na­ture of ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships. "I re­mem­ber when a re­la­tion­ship goes astray or what­ever, you break up, you don't talk and in like maybe months down the road you have cof­fee," he said. "Now it's like, you ghost and maybe a cou­ple months down the road you start lik­ing each other's pho­tos again. It's a weird time."

He called the dy­namic in­ter­est­ing, then with a know­ing smile said, "I don't know if it's healthy." As for her pre­vi­ous gig, Wil­liams has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the youngest correspondent hired for "The Daily Show." Now she's hop­ing to join the list of the show's alumni who have moved on to big­ger and bet­ter things. "To be men­tioned among peo­ple like Sa­man­tha Bee or Has­san Mi­naj and Steve Car­rell and Steve Col­bert is in­sane," she said. "It's, it's very sur­real and I think - I packed up every­thing to move and be on the 'Daily Show' and I was ner­vous be­cause I was 22. I was, umm, I had a lot of big shoes to fill work­ing with Jon Ste­wart. I felt like in the be­gin­ning I had a lot to prove, and it's re­ally an honor to be among those peo­ple."— AP

Photo shows ac­tress and co­me­dian Jes­sica Wil­liams in New York. — AP

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