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Exclusive Interview with Ray Donovan’s Chisty Williams

Photo Credit: Russell Baer
Photo Credit: Russell Baer

I had the privilege and honor of interviewing Christy Williams recently. If you’ve been watching Ray Donovan on Showtime then you’ll recognize Christy more as Michelle. Christy is bubbly and had me smiling from ear-to-ear while we spoke. Her views on life are spectacularly enlightening and I hope to be able to speak with her again soon. She truly is one of the coolest folk I’ve ever spoken with.

“Who is Christy?” Can you tell us how you got into acting and who or what has been that driving force behind your success?

I grew up in Southern California. I grew up in Long Beach. I come from a family of many different types of personalities. None of them are artists. None of them are actors. I didn’t come from a family of entertainers at all. My oldest sister is a lawyer. My second sister is a pilot. I have brother in the Marines. We’re all so different in our personalities.

When I was a kid, our parents encouraged us to do different things. I was always doing athletics. I saw my way into theater through music because I used to sing as a kid. I was in choir and took voice lessons and stuff. I auditioned for a musical. I discovered that I loved acting more than anything. Of course, my parents are pretty open-minded about letting us just choose whatever we wanted. They were a little bit hesitant about that because what parent wants their kid to go into such an unstable job as acting.

I just loved it so much that I just finally, when I was about eighteen, I just decided that’s really what I wanted to do. I tried to study something else. Eventually, I made my way up to LA and been at it ever since. I’m really excited to be on Ray Donovan. I love it. I’m a huge fan of the show. It’s been quite a ride this year to be a part of it.

Speaking of Ray Donovan, can you tell us a little bit about your role as Michelle on the show?

Michelle is a lot of fun to play. I really have come to love her. She’s very different from me. She’s a hooker. I have no experience with that. She’s much, much more than that. She’s got a lot going on under the surface. I’m really glad that I’ve had a chance to have so many episodes so you can see a few more colors from her later on in the season.

​Michelle is really ballsy. She’s independent. She likes getting her own way. She is very present in the world. I think she just does what she wants. Initially, when I read the role, it’s a bit scary to play a hooker who is so out there. There’s nudity. It’s a little bit intimidating. That’s also one of the reasons I wanted to do it to challenge myself. I’m really glad I did because it’s been quite a fun six months getting to play her.

Digging into Michelle’s mindset with everything that’s going on with Mickey and his new business ventures, I suppose you can call it, how does she feel about Mickey using her and the other girls to push these drugs and do all these other things beyond prostitution.

I think the bottom line with Michelle is that she’s addicted to the lifestyle and the money. At first, she’s very hesitant because she doesn’t want to be giving her money to someone she doesn’t know, she doesn’t trust, she doesn’t have any contact. She’s going to work with him. She’s very hesitant. She doesn’t really like him at first. Then after they have this successful day, she’s intrigued. She’s willing to go along with it.

​Also I think that another part of it is that she’s friends with Ginger, Fairuza Balk’s character. She’s going out on a limb to trust Ginger on this one. That helps her with the decision to give it a go, give it a try. It ends up being very lucrative for her. We’ll see what happens in the future. They keep on going down this rabbit hole.

Without dipping too far into spoiler territory, what else can we expect to see from Michelle going forward?

All right, wow, some fun stuff, I’m not going to give too much away. We’re seeing a romance start to blossom. It’s really interesting to see how that inner struggle happens between the two of them knowing that they’re falling for each other, but trying to still keep their independence. It’s pretty fun.

Shifting away from Ray Donovan for a moment, at the beginning of the year, in January, you published a short story in Correspondence. I was hoping you’d share a bit about your story and what this experience was like.

I think the one that you’re talking about was probably one of my true dating stories. I did a small series of stories based on awful dates that I’ve had in LA. Like many young artists in LA here pursuing their dreams and trying to make it, there’s a crazy dating scene in LA. I think the one you’re talking about was referring to one of those maybe.

​No, the whole process of getting that published was really, really awesome because it’s a side passion for me. I loved writing on the side. It’s not something that I’ve pursued really full-time at any point to try to get published. Someone took notice of the story and published it. It felt really great. It’s something that I want to continue pursuing in the future. It’s just that I’m so busy with acting this year. Thank you for mentioning that. That is something that I love… to write. It feels great when someone responds to it for sure.

I’ve heard that in addition to the acting and your writing, you’re also a strong supporter of Mission Blue.

​I love Silvia Earle. I’m a huge fan of hers. She’s doing such good work, too. Have you seen the documentary Mission Blue on Netflix?

Yes. Fantastically great piece.

I highly recommend it.

Can you tell us, for those that haven’t had the chance to see it yet, tell us a bit about what the project is about?

Basically, it’s a documentary that focuses on the life of Sylvia Earle who is an oceanographer, marine biologist and just outspoken advocate towards healing the damage we’ve done to our oceans. Quite honestly, it really opened my eyes as far as how much we’ve trashed our oceans. The oceans are seventy-one percent of the earth’s surface. It has so much impact on the environment. One of her famous quotes is “No blue, no green.”

​What she’s trying to do is create what she calls “Hope spots,” which are basically taking on the model of what national parks are, for example, in this country, reserved pieces of land that are untouched and preserved. She’s just trying to do the same thing, but for the oceans, which I think is really brilliant because that really wasn’t a system that was happening up until now that she started doing it. It’s really going to help keep the life going, at least in certain areas. Then it will impact.

​Basically, I just feel like it’s a really important cause to support because I love to be in the water. I love to snorkel. I love to scuba dive. It’s true. I was in Hawaii recently. When I was snorkeling, there’s just trash everywhere, all over the bottom of the ocean. It’s everywhere. It’s like, “How did a Snickers bar get way out here?” It’s true. It’s something that we need to be aware of we don’t think about because you don’t look what’s under the water. You don’t think about it. It excites me what she’s doing. I am a huge fan of all that work. I support it as much as I can.

It was definitely eye-opening for me to get to sit down and finally watch that and to see everything. I was in Florida for quite a while. It’s not something that honestly ever popped into my head to think about with everything that was going on. It was wonderful to see. For people like me that are new the project and for anybody that’s just coming to Mission Blue or reading this interview, hearing this interview, what can we do to help out this awesome project?

You could always go on their website and support. I think that another great way to support I mean financially that way but another great way to support is follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram. Retweet. Get the word out. Let people know what’s happening and just tell people to watch that documentary so that they can understand really the situation because it’s harder to express than to watch it. It makes it a little easier to see exactly what’s going on. You can go on their site. I believe, you’ll have to double-check. I think it’s MissionBlue.org and learn more about it, how you can help on there.

A quick little fun question here: if you had a magic wand, what’s one role that you think you’d just love to play? This can be anything, historical person, superhero. I like to try to get some of these fun questions out there.

I love that. That’s a great question. What, a magic wand and what role? I wish I had this magic wand. You know what. The first thing that popped into my head was I want to be in one of these Star Wars films because I’m a huge Star Wars. I remember when I was a kid I read all the books. I was obsessed when I was twelve-years old, obsessed with Star Wars. Another role that popped into my head is if the magic wand is giving me two, then someday, I’d love to play Cleopatra.

Cleopatra’s such a strong person too. I think you’d be perfect for the role. So what do you feel is the one lesson that you hope people take away from your performances and from your experiences? The two-parter to that is what’s the one thing that you’ve taken away from these experiences?

In general, I guess, what I hope maybe young actors or just people in general would see is that, for me, things didn’t come really quickly or really easily for me as far as getting roles. I’ve been working at this a while. For me, it’s just really the biggest thing that I’ve learned I should say is that patience and hard work really pay off. You have to just keep your head down, work hard, try to be the best artist you can be, try to get in the rooms and audition and just do your job. I was supposed to do one episode of Ray Donovan. Showtime and the show runner and everyone responded to me and kept bringing me back. I’m very grateful to them for seeing something in me.

​The truth is I have worked really hard to earn it. I hope that people don’t think that it looks easy or whatnot. It’s a lot of hard work to get what you want in this world. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that things will be okay. You just have to keep working hard, keep being positive and just smile through, all your way through. I hope people can respond to Michelle in a good way and at least they’re entertained by her. Kids don’t do drugs. Don’t go be hooking. Stay off the streets. It’s a cautionary tale. If you could learn anything from Michelle, it’s just don’t do anything she’s doing. As far as being an actor, it’s been a real joy to play her.

 

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