From soap star to bonafide superhero, Nafessa Williams is certainly a woman to watch. Williams has quickly made a name for herself by taking on a versatile roster of characters across film and television. For three seasons, she’s played an integral role on The CW’s superhero drama, Black Lightning, where her character of Anissa Pierce became television’s first African American lesbian.
We chatted with Williams to discuss her latest film project, her groundbreaking television role, and the evolution of Anissa Pierce on Black Lightning.
Your new film recently hit theatres. Tell us about Black and Blue.
NAFESSA WILLIAMS: Black and Blue is an action thriller about a rookie cop who witnesses her partner murder a kid through her body cam. The movie is led by Naomie Harris and I play her childhood best friend.
What was the best part about preparing for this role? Was this as physically demanding as preparing for Black Lighting?
NW: This film was in no way near as physically demanding as Black Lightning. I actually didn’t have any stunts. The best part was being able to tackle a new character who is extremely different than my characters on Black Lightning. I never want to play the same kind of characters over and over so it was pretty dope to switch it up.
Tell us about your role on Black Lighting—how has your character evolved? Did you feel a certain amount of pressure or responsibility representing a character that has yet to be shown on television?
NW: Since Season One of Black Lightning my character has evolved quite a bit. She’s matured a lot! She definitely found her identity as a super hero and is much more confident in her abilities.
How do you prepare for television and film differently?
NW: I actually prepare for film and TV the same. For me it’s all about the character I’m portraying. Creating a world for my characters, finding our similarities and our differences, and understanding who they are so I can be a voice for them is an important part of my process.
What are you looking forward to in the next few months?
NW: I’m looking forward to the holidays. I just bought my first home and I’m excited to host and decorate and create my own traditions!
When you're not on set, where can we find you in LA? Any favorite hangouts?
NW: It really just depends on my vibe! Most days I like to kick it in the Valley. Studio City is probably my favorite hang-out spot. Other days I like to kick it on the beach, meditate and maybe grab Nobu in Malibu after. Honestly, I just love California overall. It’s the weather, it’s the vibe. LA is my favorite city, it’s unmatched. When I was 11, I told my mom I was moving to LA, so I guess you can say I’m living my dream.
Photography by: James Anthony