The Tony, Emmy and Grammy-nominated star on her West End debut and the legacy of Ugly Betty.
“I’m sure she’d probably vote for Trump just because she was probably at the wedding and he owes her a favour,” Vanessa Williams says of her iconic Ugly Betty character, Wilhelmina Slater, to a room full of disappointed Mode-obsessed gays. “She probably hooked Melania up with her inaugural outfit too!”
After two hours watching the Tony, Emmy and Grammy-nominated icon on set, she proves why she made history as the first African-American woman to win the title of Miss America. ‘Yaas!’ and the gayest of finger clicks can be heard as Vanessa serves opulent 1940s glamazon – an opulent 1940s glamazon who is about to make her West End debut in a revival of Olivier Award-winning play City of Angels.
From 6 March at the Garrick Theatre, Vanessa will step into the infamous role of Carla/Alaura in Josie Rourke’s critically-acclaimed, film noir-inspired production, which focuses on a crime novelist working on a screenplay adaptation of one of his books as his marriage crumbles. “It’s a challenge!” admits Vanessa. “To do eight shows a week, I’ve got to be inspired by the music, the book, the team of creatives and the ensemble. It’s a discipline, and luckily, I’ve been able to do it all my life.”
To commemorate her West End debut, GayTimes Magazine caught up with the legendary actress and singer in Soho’s L’Escargot to discuss her return to the stage, how Ugly Betty was ahead of its time with LGBTQ representation and what she wants to (and will) conquer next in the entertainment industry.
You’re about to make your West End debut – why was now the right time?
“The offer! I’ve always wanted to live abroad in London and study here. But instead of studying, I get a chance to take all my years of experience and display them on stage. I’m really happy to be able to soak it all in, work with amazing, gifted and talented British actors and actresses, do a fantastic show that hasn’t been done in over 30 years. It’s a challenge! I’ve done revivals, but it’s not just a revival, it’s replacing and stepping in for a legend. For this particular piece, since it’s never been done again on Broadway, when the offer came in from Josie [Rourke]… I heard that when she did it at the Donmar, it won all these awards and was a new take on what the show was. I knew she’d done it successfully, that she had a lot of great creative ideas, and I’d seen Mary, Queen of Scots and was a fan of her as a film director, so it was very intriguing to me to work with a female director who’s reinventing theatre and making bold choices. When the offer came in, I FaceTimed her and she said, ‘I’m so passionate about this, you are my only choice. Please, please, please!’
How could you refuse?
“How could I refuse? To do eight shows a week, I’ve got to be inspired by the music, the book, the team of creatives and the ensemble. I remember when Toni Braxton, who’d never done Broadway, called me and said, ‘They want me to do Beauty and the Beast, what should I do?’ I said, ‘It’s eight shows a week. If you love the music and you can commit to it, then do it, it’s a great experience. But, you’ve got to love it.’ It’s a discipline, and luckily, I’ve been able to do it all my life. When I jump in and out of different genres, whether it’s film, television or stage, I’ve got the skills to land myself to whatever I need to”.
This cast is amazing and the gays are going to love this because you, a gay icon, will be starring alongside Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts, another gay icon…
“She is lovely, and she knew my daughter Gillian. The first day we met in rehearsals, she said she was really good friends with Gillian, because they had the same label five or six years ago. Oh and Theo James? I don’t mind kissing him, sorry girls! He’s a great actor. Once you get over his hunkiness, he’s great and very committed. Theo and I have one number together and it’s very sexy. We end up on the bed a couple of times too…”
For more read the interview further on www.gaytimes.co.uk
Fill out your email address at www.pinkinourlives.com for more updates, news, stories, parties and more!!! DON’T SAY IT, BUT SPRAY IT!!!
Lesley Middleton, owner of PINK IN OUR LIVES
Comment or sound off below ▼▼▼ THANK YOU!!!