Since the season finale of the Showtime hit series ‘Soul Food’ two years ago, the actress has kept a relatively low-profile.
Now she’s in a whirlwind of activity — and employment– with a starring role on NBC’s hit summer drama series ‘Windfall’ and a role in OutKast’s long-awaited movie musical ‘Idlewild.’
“You know what, that seems to be the way my life works; it’s all or nothing,” the Plainfield, N.J. native told Black Voices — from the Atlanta set of her latest job: Tyler Perry’s third theatrical project, ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.’ “You know how it is, when it rains it pours or it doesn’t rain and it’s a drought,” she quipped.
In her down time she did audition, but a lot of the work that was available to her wasn’t appealing. “Most of them were like forensic, murder, mystery type, doctor, lawyer drama kinds of projects,” she explained. “And I didn’t necessarily want to be a part of them because I didn’t want to go to work and deal with depressing subjects. I didn’t want to go to work and see dead bodies — even if they weren’t real, I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted to go to work and touch on more upbeat subjects.”
The 30-year-old single mom (of six-year-old son, Omikaye, whom she shares with ex-husband Mekhi Phifer) launched a lingerie line named Modern Goddess during the break.
And then came ‘Windfall.’
Helmed by Laurie McCarthy (who had success with ‘Felicity’ and ‘CSI: Miami’), the hour-long Thursday night drama centers on the lives of 20 small town folk who win the multimillion dollar lottery jackpot — collecting $20 million each. Williams plays Kimberly George, a 22-year old single mother who hustles to make ends meet with a series of dead-end jobs.
“Initially it was a character who was only guest starring in this pilot but for me,” she revealed. “So I thought, ‘if I get one moment in my career to just do this joyful happy moment, and play it out, that is going to be good for me. And it’s going to be good for black women to see themselves in that way: the epitome of joy.’ So I played it out and it was such an incredible moment for myself.”
She wowed the brass so much, that what started out as a guest staring role turned into an offer to be a regular cast member.
In Perry’s latest flick, which started shooting last month and stars Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba, Williams plays Maya, the bridge to the two main characters (a female attorney and mechanic). “Let me think first because I don’t want to say something that I’m not supposed to say,” she said about the storyline.
Another morsel: “Madea is not in this film.”
She plays Zora in ‘Idlewild,’ the wife to Big Boi Patton’s lead character. A studio insider says her role in the prohibition era film is “meaty.” Williams said she drew inspiration from her grandmother for the role. “[Zora] is more of the woman who takes care of the five children,” she said. “She goes to church and she tries to support the home in the way that the wife is supposed to.”
Williams said that next she wouldn’t mind tackling a biopic — or something lighter, like a comedy. “I always want to have fun and I want people to go and be able to be entertained. I like film that touches on relevant subject matter but I’m not necessarily in a place in my life right now that I want to do something that’s too heavy.”