Melissa L. Williams is the newest Tyler Perry discovery, with dual roles in his #1 BET ranked new scripted series The Oval.
On the new hit series, Melissa portrays twin sisters Denise and Ruth, polar opposite roles, both with their own agenda. Denise is a sexy boutique owner who has sex in the White House with the President, and the other character Ruth is a member of a religious cult.
The lovely and talented Williams is now set to lead Perry’s spin-off series Ruthless as the title character Ruth Trusedale. She’s forced to play nice with a scandalous religious cult of powerful sex crazed fanatics in the hopes of freeing herself and her daughter. BET Plus welcomes the series in March 2020.
Sit back and enjoy this interview with Tyler Perry’s newest muse as N’DIGO talked with Melissa about her experiences auditioning and landing The Oval after moving to LA and landing her first series regular role on Ruthless. Melissa also discussed what’s next for her on the horizon.
N’DIGO: Hello Melissa! Tell us a little about yourself.
Melissa L. Williams: I’m an actress, singer, and dancer. I’m an Oklahoma native who’s been involved in musical theatre since childhood. I honed my skills while studying at Clark Atlanta University. Once I moved to LA, I quickly transitioned to television and film. I’ve always loved performing growing up and knew that I had a gift that I wanted to share with everyone.
How and at what age did you get the “acting bug?”
When I was about 10 years old, I was watching a Shirley Temple movie and I just stopped in my tracks. I saw a little girl around my age doing the same things that I loved to do: sing, dance, and act! At this point, my mom had already enrolled me in dance classes. After, I began performing in an Easter play and I knew that this was what I was born to do.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influences in my life are God and my family. God has always been a consistent influence in my life. My family has truly supported, encouraged, and motivated me along this journey from the very beginning.
What was your first acting role?
The Game on BET. I landed the role shortly after moving to LA and expanded from there.
How was it auditioning for Tyler Perry? Were you nervous?
It was exhilarating and fulfilling at the same time. I was nervous, but I was confident in my talent and I was ready to show him that. I told my team that I wasn’t leaving without booking!
What appealed to you when you read about the character you portray in The Oval?
Having the opportunity to play two very different characters who are twins. I play Denise (President Franklin’s mistress) and Ruth (the mother of Barry’s child). I was attracted to both characters because of their audaciousness and their naivete to the drama that will ensue because of it.
What’s it like to work for Tyler Perry?
Incredible. It’s really a great training ground for actors. I learned to trust my own instincts, which strengthened my confidence in my craft.
Tell us something about your character in Ruthless. Is it a spin-off of The Oval?
Ruthless is a spinoff of The Oval and will premiere on BET Plus this year. It follows the exploits of my character and cult member, Ruth. Ruth is forced to play nice with a scandalous religious cult of powerful sex-crazed fanatics in the hopes of freeing herself and her daughter.
What makes you so deserving of your own show?
God does not make mistakes. I have been blessed with a gift and have been given a rare opportunity to showcase that in this series.
Describe your life right now.
Blessed. I’m in a really happy place and have come into my own as an actress. I’m so excited for you all to see what’s coming next.
Is acting an intimidating process?
It’s not intimidating if you are passionate about the work and confident in yourself. I was recently listening to a podcast that said, “Confidence is the belief in your ability to figure it out.” I wholeheartedly believe that.
What are the best and the worst parts of being an actress?
The best part is being on set doing what you love without having a day job that you hate, and working with talented crews and castmates.
I can’t necessarily say that this would be the “worst” part, but what was difficult for me was trusting the process. In the beginning, there can be uncertainty as to what’s coming next, but your faith always pushes you through.
What have been your highlights of working in the movie industry?
To be fortunate to constantly create, whether it’s from events, scripts, or from bringing different characters to life to tell memorable stories. I love it all.
How do you deal with the not so good aspects of the industry?
I use them as lessons to further propel my career and I have an incredible support system.
Have you personally faced any?
How do you handle rejection?
I pray, am grateful for the opportunity, and move forward.
Is there any other genre of movies you would like to work in?
I love being able to play a range of roles. After completing my current projects, I’d love to do a thriller, a period piece, or action.
What kind of movie or show would be your dream project to act in and where do you envision yourself being in 10 years?
I have two that I’m plotting: one is a biopic about Vanessa Williams and the other is Flo Jo. In 10 years, I look forward to expanding my career through starring in several hit films and TV shows, producing various projects, and launching several businesses in my hometown.
What’s one thing fans would be surprised to know about you?
In addition to being an actress, I’m also a singer. I have an extensive musical theatre background and was previously in a singing group.
What’s a typical day for Melissa?
I wake up and read a chapter of the Bible every day, then pray. I’ll put on some music for some good vibes (usually gospel or R&B) and then will head to the gym. From there, I’ll run errands, check emails, study a scene or research upcoming projects.
Three things you can’t leave home without?
My purse, water bottle, and planner.
How do you stay in shape?
I work out five times a week, which includes weight-lifting, spin class, and an athletic bootcamp with my personal trainer.
What do you do for fun when you’re not reading scripts or acting?
I’m a foodie, so I of course enjoy cooking. I also take hip hop spin classes.
What’s your favorite healthy food and what’s your favorite cheat food?
My favorite healthy food would be anything plant-based since I’ve committed to a vegetarian lifestyle. The bowls from Cafe Gratitude are one of my favorites. My favorite cheat food is pizza.
What kind of music do you like?
R&B and hip hop.
Who’s your favorite artist and why?
Rihanna. She’s so innovative and daring in her music, fashion, and personality.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Michelle Obama — she’s such an inspiration!
Best advice ever given?
Know who you are and pace yourself.
What sort of advice could you give to aspiring stars?
Have faith, study the craft, be patient, and find a way to bring something different to your auditions.
Where can we follow you?
On Instagram: @melissalwilliamsla and Twitter: @1mlwilliams
Sylvester Cosby is the Digital Editor and a contributing writer for N’DIGO.