Always collaborate. Never assume you’re the smartest person in the room. I promise, there will always be a room in which you are outmatched. Learn from the people around you.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Anne Williams.
Lindsay comes to New Orleans by way of Flagstaff, AZ with a stopover in Hattiesburg, MS. At 5 years-old, Lindsay made her first foray into theatre as a dancing bear in The Greatest Show on Earth produced by her father, and has been enchanted with the stage and screen ever since.
Dancing everywhere, from church to the soccer field and all points in between, Lindsay was able to foster her creativity while pursuing her academic and performance dreams. Among the many delights of her stage career, she has had the opportunity to dance with the Newcomb Dance Company, Oklahoma Festival Ballet, and Alvin Ailey II. Lindsay served as costume designer on Historia Films’ feature debut, The Historian, was a co-producer the company’s second feature, The Hollow, a producer on Demons, and costume designer and producer on Hallowed Ground and the forth-coming The Dinner Party. Also an actress, Lindsay has appeared in numerous plays and musicals, including: Oliver! (“Nancy”), The Rocky Horror Show “Usherette/Magenta”), Evita (“Eva Peron”), Macbeth (“Lady Macbeth”), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (“Yitzhak”), Cabaret (“Sally Bowles”), The Wizard of Oz (“Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz”), Into the Woods (“Lucinda”), Jesus Christ Superstar, Camelot, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (“White Witch”), Trojan Women (Athena), Agamemnon (Elektra), Julius Caesar, and Reckless. Aside from her other film work, she has appeared in every Historia Films project: The Historian (“Dawne”), The Hollow (“Dinah”), Two Birds (“Clara”), Demons (“Kayleigh”), Light & Shadow (“Alice”), Handsome (“Escort”), Ahura (“The Woman”), Hallowed Ground (“Alice”), and The Dinner Party (“Sadie”). Lindsay designs wedding gowns and costumes for film and theatre and, in the past three years, has begun directing. Her first project in December 2017, was a theatre production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Lindsay continues to act and produce while pursuing her many other interests. Lindsay earned a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and Anthropology from Tulane University and a Master’s degree in Ancient History from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Lindsay! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
“Shall we begin like David Copperfield? I am born. I grow up…” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Huge Anne Rice fan. I was born in Kennewick, WA and we moved to Flagstaff, AZ when I was four. I grew up with the most fantastically-imaginative and creative childhood that was possible for free. My parents fostered and encouraged in us a love for the arts. My dad was a principal and teacher at our small parochial school, and fancied himself a would-be director who staged the students in works of all sorts, from The Greatest Show on Earth, to Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (very ambitious for a K-8 program!). My parents both worked a lot, but my elder sister and I, ever at odds with one another, as sisters are wont to be, were the closest companions. We’d act out radio plays in our backyard (we were particularly fond of How the West Was Won), and formed a girls-only drama club with the neighborhood kids. We wrote music together and never for a single day remained just Mallery and Lindsay Williams, but rather explored the stories of men and women far from our own sphere of experiences. Then, my parents got divorced and I dreamed my way through middle school, went to a fantastic arts high school where I finally got to take all the art, acting, music, and dance classes we could never afford as kids. And I lit my way out of Flagstaff to go to Tulane University. I stepped foot on the ground of New Orleans three days before hurricane Katrina when I was 18.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Wearing a pillowcase toga and watching my dad’s dreams for his students come true from the wings of our gymnasium theater as my older brother “died” on the stage as Julius Caesar, watching Gone with the Wind with the neighbors who had the fancy VCR, dreaming of dancing my entire childhood only to finally get the opportunity because of an amazing charter school. The stage, and by extension the screen, was bred into me; it’s in my blood.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Not in print…
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
So, I’m not just an actor, I’m a costume designer, as well. On the first Historia Films project, The Historian, I had the great fortune to work with William Sadler, Bill, who’s so gregarious and a very engaging conversationalist. On our first day of shooting he and I were having a great chat wandering through this beautiful house that was our set, when suddenly, the conversation stopped and looked at where I was standing. In his dressing room with the door closed. Bill’s an incredibly generous and wonderful guy so he kindly asked me to allow him to change for the next scene. We kind of bonded over that little misstep of mine, and he proceeded to teach me so much on that set about little tricks of the trade. I’m not sure what I Iearned, except that the friendships you can gain on a film, the closeness of the situation for such an intense period of time can lead to some awkward moments, some true friends, and some of the greatest hugs ever.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well, like much of the country, I’m currently working from home, trying to stay safe and sane. Miles and I have spent this time taking a breath and sprucing up our house and yard (wait…you know we’re married, right…?). We’ve also been using this time to develop a couple of things. We definitely have some Historia Films projects in the pipeline, but it’s a bit too soon to reveal exactly what’s coming next, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think the term “diversity” in film is a little misleading. I think it’s silly to think that it means BOTH gender diversity and ethnic diversity, not to mention the realistic and unsensationalized representation of LGBTQ+ individuals. There you go, maybe I’d prefer to call it “representation.” The most important and long-lasting lessons for me regarding diversity/representation are actually centered around comic book characters. Hear me out. When Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse came out and little kids could finally see a marquee superhero portrayed by a person who actually looked like them, that was huge. Miles Morales was a big deal. When a quality superhero film was made about a bad-ass woman, it was life changing. Wonder Woman was more than just a good movie from within the DC Universe. Look at the response to Black Panther. Representation is so important. It makes you feel seen and heard in a way you don’t always know you haven’t felt. When Diana charged across No-Man’s Land, I actually cried. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Black Widow, but when has she ever been written and portrayed with that much personal agency and power? I didn’t even realize I was missing that feeling. I have spent my life watching the stories of white men and having to force myself into their psyche to empathize. This problem is so much more present for people of color, especially women of color, who’s representation has been abysmal. That’s why I am so glad to be a part of a company like Historia Films. Our last two features, Hallowed Ground and The Dinner Party, in particular, are evidence of our continued care about different kinds of diversity and representation. When we started the production company, I told Miles that women’s stories and diversity were important to me. And he was already right there. I didn’t need to convince him, or make him understand, he had seen the lay of the land, and realized how skewed it was and he is equally determined to make quality content that is not solely focused on the lives of middle-class white men who have dominated the story-verse of film for so long. It means a lot to have him on our side. As Sir Patrick Stewart said, as a white man, “I’d been given a voice that I didn’t know was available to me, and it was to speak seriously and with a proper level of involvement on issues of inequality and unfairness.” You know, It wasn’t so long ago that a little girl, or a kid with skin that was any color but white could say “I’m going to be president,” or “I’m going to do x, y, or z” and any adult around them would know, that, no, they couldn’t. Today, they can. We can. And it’s our job as filmmakers to help, to show the possibilities for all people, to tell the stories of all parts of society, and work to stop the endemic, passive (not always so passive) discrimination in our society.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Never let a costume assistant, or anyone for that matter, tell you, you’re too fat.
- If someone or something makes you uncomfortable, say it. There’s always someone to listen and any problem can be worked through.
- Always listen to actors when they have ideas about the way their character may dress. They’ve thought as much or more about the personality of this character and may have some ideas that, as a designer, hadn’t occurred to you.
- Always collaborate. Never assume you’re the smartest person in the room. I promise, there will always be a room in which you are outmatched. Learn from the people around you.
- I read the other day that an “actor” said that good actors don’t need hair, makeup, and costumes for a good performance. I am telling you: hair, make-up and costume can take a good performance and make it transcendent. There is something that happens in the soul of an actor when they throw off the trappings of their own personalities and take on the clothing, hair, and make-up of another human being. Magic doesn’t just happen in front of the camera. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to make magic on every side. “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams.”
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
So much of that depends on your attention span. Some people want to be creative all the time, some people need some down time. It’s different for each creator. But to me: my goal is to create something of beauty every day. Just one thing. Even if no one else in the world knows it, sees it, or hears it. If it’s singing a beautiful song, or dancing in my kitchen, or teaching, or making a film, or a drawing, or painting, even if it’s watering your garden, know that you are contributing to the beauty in this world. Create beauty, in whatever way you care to.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think I just said it. Create beauty. For as ephemeral as some forms of art can be, beauty in the arts, art itself, music, movies, dance, can bring people together. We could all use a little more unity right now.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When my mom was a kid she was held to incredibly rigorous standards: played tenor sax, piano, and sang. She had to give impromptu performances for dinner party guests. And her whole life all she wanted was to go to Julliard. She got some tough breaks and that never happened. She was so afraid of putting her former hopes and ambitions on her kids that she gave us the freedom to explore the world and art in our own ways and she was so incredibly supportive without being a smothering “stage mom.” In so doing, she also taught us a lot of personal accountability. She wasn’t going to push us to succeed, we had to do that on our own, and it’s something that I’ve never outgrown. I also have to give a shoutout to my super supportive husband, Miles Doleac, who knows that we can work towards both his dreams and my own as a team. We don’t have to choose between which one of us gets to have their dreams come true. We can build them together. (ooh super sappy. I’m so not a sappy person).
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If you had to pin me down, on the lips of the inestimable Tom Hanks in Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own, “Of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.” This has served me in so many situations, from artistic blocks, to melancholy days, to teaching whiny students, to dealing with feeling inadequate and everywhere in between.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I was tempted to say Sir Patrick, because he’s been on my mind a lot lately. During the time of quarantine, he began reading the Sonnets of William Shakespeare and inspired Miles and I to do some sonnet reading of our own for Instagram and Facebook. I just recently finished a series of the poetry of Henry VIII of England.
But the REAL answer is actually Meryl Streep. Aside from being the best film actor alive (Miles and I have frequent conversations about her or Daniel Day Lewis as the GOAT), growing up, my mother looked alarmingly similar to Meryl. People would follow us around the grocery store. Upon unloading our groceries and embarking into our 1991 Toyota minivan, we once heard the exclamation, “I didn’t know she drove a Toyota!!” Funnily enough, at the time, Meryl was driving a Toyota Prius (I think). She is my everything. And it doesn’t hurt that I get to pretend like she’s my mom and doing all these amazing, wonderful, influential things.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram: @puella_deville (yes, it’s a Latin Disney joke).
I used to have Twitter with the same handle, I think, but I kept screwing it up. Like it would post to Twitter and Facebook, and then my Instagram would post to Twitter and Facebook and Twitter would repost to Facebook so each post would show up a million times. I think I’m still on Twitter? I suppose I could stop being a luddite and figure that out. Anyway, Instagram is where I’m most active. So, you can follow me there.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you! And thank you for taking the time to feature me and our film.