Renika Williams has always known that she wanted to contribute in storytelling, and that is precisely why her path in acting began very early, eventually leading her to greater and greater achievements, as in the case of the series “The Sex Lives Of College Girls” or “New Amsterdam.” She is involved in raising awareness about sickle cell anemia, a genetic red blood cell disease that mainly affects the African American population.
Your path in acting began at the age of 12, but it was realised with the achievement of a BFA at Wright State University. What drew you to this world?
I’ve been drawn to the world of storytelling for as long as I can remember. There’s just something about reading or watching the journey of someone’s life and how it unfolds that always captivated me. I knew I wanted to help bring stories to life.
You play the role of Willow in the comedy-drama series “The Sex Lives Of College Girls”, directed by Mindy Kaling for HBO Max. How did you come to land this role and what do you remember about the moment you were chosen?
My manager was a huge part of that moment for me. She is the reason I had the opportunity to audition in the first place. In that moment when she called and told me, something in my spirit already knew I landed it. I had an initial audition, a callback, and a chemistry read with Alyah Chanelle Scott who plays Whitney Chase, and something deep down just told me it was mine. So, when I got the call, I was very calm. I didn’t scream until a few days later.
How do you feel closest to the character of Willow?
I thin Willow and I both tend to offer words of wisdom to our friends in sticky situations. We are often the voice of reason, even if it comes out a little messy.
Before coming to TV and film, you had several experiences in the world of theatre. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two closely related but nevertheless separate fields?
What I love about theatre is that you’re having a once in a lifetime experience on stage and with those specific audience members on that night. It can never happen again in the exact same way. That’s what’s so special about theatre. TV & Film is definitely different working on camera and no audience in the moment of your performance. Sometimes, I’m not sure if my joke is landing because it must be quiet on set. However, what I love about TV and Film is that the story reaches so many more people.
You are involved in raising awareness of Sickle Cell Anemia. Can you explain what it consists of and why it is so close to your heart?
Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic red blood cell disorder that primarily affects African Americans. People with sickle cell anemia suffer from frequent pain, sometimes daily. I, unfortunately, loss one of my closest friends to sickle cell anemia and it was most definitely the most difficult time in my life thus far. I raise awareness about the disorder because I’m hoping the more that people learn about it, the more advancements can be made with medications, care, and tools on how to live a healthy life with the condition. No one should have to lose a loved one to sickle cell anemia.
When you think back on your journey to date, what are you most proud of?
I am currently most proud of my work on NBC’s New Amsterdam. I was so excited to share with the world that I can do more than be funny!
In your spare time you engage in many activities, including yoga, cycling and reading. What is the last book you read?
I’m currently rereading one of my favorite books, SULA, by the great Toni Morrison.
What do you wish for the future?
I pray for a fruitful career filled with meaningful and impactful work.