10 THINGS – Ashley Williams
Originally from New York, when did your love for the arts begin?
Our next-door neighbor growing up. Her name is Anna Holbrook and she was a soap opera actress. At a young age, I simply wanted to BE HER.
Your sister and brother-in-law are both in the entertainment business. How much have they influenced your career as an actress?
My sister is my best friend and most trustworthy confidant. One thing she always does, is encourage me to take care of myself when I’m working. I have the tendency to let my work take over my ability to think logically, so she reminds me to sleep and drink water. And, my brother in law encourages the consumption of bourbon—always important when you work in the entertainment business.
You’ve done a fair amount of TV series and film projects. What do you appreciate from each platform?
Ultimately, TV is about putting characters that you know well, into a myriad of situations and watching how they react—both in comedy and drama. And, TV is a marathon—the storytelling in a TV series can go on for years and years, and you intimately get to know the character and watch the history build. Film, is more finite—a short and hot in depth perspective. You go deep, and then, you get out. Film scares me a little more, because it feels so permanent—but I think that’s just because I haven’t done it as much.
What types of roles do you gravitate to and what would be your ultimate role to play, if given the opportunity?
I’m drawn to the dark stuff. I usually play light, vanilla characters, but I’m always working to uncover what makes them break. I love the concept of a preppy Pollyanna, whose life completely falls apart and she’s driven into darkness. A politician’s wife? OH! Like maybe Bellamy Young’s character, from Scandal? THAT sounds fun.
Which actors work do you admire most and why?
I love actors who stay loose with the material and invent new moments, take to take. Tom Cavanaugh is the first actor I worked with who did this, and it completely shifted how I work. Every moment became an opportunity for play. Really fun.
Let’s talk about your latest project, TV Land’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, which is about a married couple trying to raise their five kids in a 2-bedroom apartment in NYC, of all places. Besides that premise, what made you want to take on this series?
Listen, I’m a workhorse. I love acting and have very little fear around auditioning. So, every pilot season, I audition for every pilot and I always book one—I just happened to get really really lucky that this show got picked up. AND, that it’s good! I remember reading the first script after the pilot. It was an episode we shot last year called “The Bible Story.” I burst into tears. I remember thinking, that I’d never been a part of a TV show before that was satirically trying to say something controversial and important. The inspired and daring scripts continued. I hit the jackpot with this job.
You play the role of Jeannie Gaffigan, alongside Jim. What do you enjoy most about bring the story and her character to life?
I’ve never played a real person before. And, I lucked out, that the person I’m playing, Jeannie Gaffigan, is on set with me to answer questions or help me crack a joke properly. Jeannie, the character and the person, is real, flawed, exhausted, inspired by her kids, and a tiny bit insane. It is so much fun.
Comedy is not as easy as it looks. Are there any challenges when it comes to comedic timing and just overall relating well to the audience?
I have a tendency to “serve up” jokes or hit them a little bit too hard—I tend to want to show the audience that I know what the joke is, which is a bizarre instinct. If you know what you are saying is funny, as you say it, its somehow not as funny. Keeping the character and her take on the world is a skill I am constantly trying to hone. It’s a wonderful and humbling challenge.
Switching gears, who are some of your favorite fashion designers and styles?
I’m a new mom and I’m really into this “Mom Chic” thing I’ve got going on. It’s wearable for the day with your toddler, it’s washable for when you sit in oatmeal or get thrown up on, but it’s also a little sexy and down to earth. I’m into Acne Jeans, casual dresses by Isabel Marant, and James Perse up down and around. My standard uniform is also Madewell v-necks and Rag and Bone jeans. And, funky jewelry. And, SNEAKERS.
We look forward to seeing how things develop on The Jim Gaffigan Show. Besides this, are there any other projects that you’re working on for the future?
I’m really excited about this piece of content I’m working on for People.com. Its called “What No One Tells You,” and it’s an information based show that I’m hosting for parents regarding conception, pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, and child rearing. I’m a certified doula and I believe that information and education can counteract the culture of fear we have regarding these topics. I’m bringing on experts and providing resources, so that parents understand their options and can make educated and empowering choices. I’m really excited about it!
Facebook Page: Ashley Williams
Photo Credits: Courtesy of TV Land