[THE STAGE] MEELAH WILLIAMS [ @itmseelah ]: STRENGTH OF LOVE
It’s so wonderful to reconnect with Meelah Williams. As most know, Williams has been venturing into the world of acting over the past few years, and she’s now taking a lead in The Baz Brothers production, Strength of Love. It’s an amazing story of love, forgiveness, and all the craziness that can happen in between. Strength of Love will be showing Valentine’s weekend in Griffin, GA.
We took some time to chat with Ms. Williams about her role in this stage play, and what the world can expect from her first leading role.
U.G. Digital Mag: I’m most grateful to you for a few things; one for you sharing your time with me today. Also, you were a tremendous part of our first issue. I’m always forever thankful to you.
Meelah Williams: Thank you for the opportunity. I’m grateful that you even gave me that platform.
U.G. Digital Mag: So we’re together for Strength of Love, but before I even start, I have to get your thoughts on the New Edition movie, considering how instrumental Michael Bivens was in the careers of 702.
Meelah Williams: It really is outstanding. I’ve only seen two parts so far, but the actors have done an amazing job. The actors were spot on. I was there for some of it, but to see it on television, it’s refreshing to see the other side of the industry. A lot of people who want to do this often forget about the other side. It’s not always the glitz and glamour. It’s refreshing that they opened themselves up and allowed them[the actors] to be there with them. I had no idea that they went through all the things they did. It was like 1996 for the Home Again tour. We were clueless to a lot of what happened behind the scenes, but there were times when we definitely felt the tension.
U.G. Digital Mag: When you mention how spot on they were, the kids were really amazing.
Meelah Williams: I know, right?
U.G. Digital Mag: The one who play Mike looked just like him.
Meelah Williams: Isn’t that crazy? I asked where did they find that kid. He had that same swag, cocky arrogance, and the whole Boston swag. Clearly Mike and everyone was instrumental in picking the characters that played them, but it’s amazing they found someone so close. Those kids did an amazing job. The casting for Brooke Payne as well, which was the guy from the wire, Wood Harris. I've got to catch up with part 3 now.
U.G. Digital Mag: It’s funny because my son is 10, and he’s enamored with the movie.
Meelah Williams: I’m disappointed I missed last night, but I will definitely catch it.
U.G. Digital Mag: So Strength of Love, it’s such an amazing story. I saw the first run of it last year, so it’s good to see it back. How is it for you to come in this time around?
Meelah Williams: First, I’m just humbled and flattered for someone to reach out and ask of my interest. It’s always a blessing after all this time that people still call and seek my talent. Everyone has been so welcoming. I knew Chandra Currelley because I worked with her for Kandi Burruss’ A Mother’s Love. I was so excited to see Mrs. Chandra again. She’s always great, professional, and so cool. The woman knows what she is doing. I look at her like an auntie. She’s so magical, and anytime I’m in her presence, I’m in awe. She’s so multifaceted. I have to see one of her shows because I love jazz. She’s like someone you’ve known for years. When you go into an ensemble of new people, you never know how it will be. The directors and writers are so chill and laid back. By the second or third rehearsal, they were like family. They’re serious too, but they know how to have fun and make you feel comfortable.
U.G. Digital Mag: There's something special about The Baz Brothers. Chandra is amazing too, and her background with S.O.S. Band is something else.
Meelah Williams: Listen! That’s good music.
U.G. Digital Mag: But it’s just knowing all she’s done and how humble she is, and how welcoming she is. She’s simply amazing. You have a family of people for sure.
Meelah Williams: I’m so grateful. The opportunity is so cool. It’s my third stage play, but the first time I’ve been a leading character. It’s humbling, and exciting to pursue something like this. It’s a blessing to get the acting chops going and the blood flowing. It’s a different level of entertainment coming from the music world.
U.G. Digital Mag: You character has so much depth. How was it to tap into that?
Meelah Williams: It’s interesting because I had this conversation with my mother. It can be very draining at times. That goes for acting in general because you have to morph into these characters and tune into that space. Every nuance and characteristic that your character embodies, you have to align with that. After tomorrow, we’re no longer called by our real names. I have to get into that zone. Her story is so deep, and it’s deep to have to go there. You have to tap into things that may be uncomfortable from your own life and path. You have to find something that’s parallel in some sense to help you convey the emotions. I didn’t know it would be this deep. If that’s what it takes, then let me do this. It’s all in being an actor.
U.G. Digital Mag: Everyone is looking forward to it. What are your hopes for the three days?
Meelah Williams: I hope that those who come out, whether it’s to see me, someone else, or they're just interested, are satisfied. I hope they enjoy everything they see and are not disappointed in my acting, or on any level. I hope they see my passion, and know that I’m working to take this to another level. This is just the beginning.
U.G. Digital Mag: Again, I think you’re so amazing with this. I’ve followed since 702. I’ve watched the R&B Divas, and could really appreciate how you stuck to your guns in terms of portrayal, and what people saw in you. You protected your image, and that was major. Thank you for that.
Meelah Williams: I appreciate that. It’s hard. Unfortunately, the business has changed so much from the time 702 came out until now. The values are different, with social media, and reality shows. If you are someone who’s wholesome, or “a good girl”, you come off as boring, dull, and as having no personality. If I’m not flipping over a table, cursing someone out, or just being flat out ignorant, I have no personality. I have layers to me and I’m complex. I just want to be decent on television because it’s how I was raised. Does that mean I can’t defend myself in a situation? Of course not, but will I be confrontational? That’s not my way. I thank you for acknowledging that though.
U.G. Digital Mag: There’s more who look for what you offer than there are who look for the craziness. It doesn’t seem so at times, but there are.
Meelah Williams: It’s frustrating because I have ratchet tendencies (laughing). If you take me there, for instance about my son, or my family, you’ll see the turn up. I’ve been taught to be classy. I am human though, and don’t always know how to turn the other cheek, but I try to be pretty chill. I plan on doing reality TV again, maybe if I have creative control.
U.G. Digital Mag: I would love to see it. The last time we spoke, we talked a lot about your foundation. I would love to see more about that.
Meelah Williams: Thank you! Yes. That was the other thing with my story line on R&B Divas. We touched on it, and I guess that was the basis of it, but I wanted to focus more on that. Moving forward, there have been some ideas out there. I’ve been approached, being an autism mom.
U.G. Digital Mag: There’s so many people who deal with it [autism], but you touch a lot of people with your story and they really benefit from it.
Meelah Williams: It needs to be talked about more. I respect everyone’s wishes because I too wasn’t sure in the beginning if I wanted to put it out there. It’s definitely private and personal. They have that right, but those of us who do want to talk, I think we should. A lot of parents don’t know how to handle it. It’s not an easy thing or a walk in the park. There’s several levels, even mild levels. It’s challenging, but life has challenges. I think it would be cool in the African Amercian community to touch on it, even with mental illness. We don’t touch on it much. We just sweep it under the rug. Unfortunately, where there’s no communication, other issues arise. It’s like, this could be prevented if we just talk about it.
U.G. Digital Mag: Can you talk about other things you’re working on or have coming up?
Meelah Williams: I actually just signed a record deal with Soulstar / E1 music. This will be my solo debut album. It feels like I’ve been doing solo music for a while and I’ve had singles here and there, but this will be my first body of work.
U.G. Digital Mag: Knowing of Soulstar, and your music, you’re in the perfect place. They can really get it out there.
Meelah Williams: Thank you so much. It’s a good feeling to be in this space with complete and creative control. I can zone out and figure out what I want to do sonically. A lot of people still don’t know who I am. It feels good to create a project that is all me. I just started recording a few weeks ago, so I’m in the very beginning stages. I’m not rushing it, but it may be around late summer or the end of 2017. I’m looking for a super successful album. It’s still so premature that I don’t even have a title yet.
U.G. Digital Mag: People like myself, and your entire fanbase, knowing you have something coming, it’s more than enough for us. You gave us “Give It to You” a few years ago, and then it was like OK, we’re waiting.
Meelah Williams: I know. I was kinda teasing y’all a bit (laughing), with Stupid in love, a great single written by TC, but I just do a little bit to hold y’all over (laughing).
U.G. Digital Mag: Well we’re waiting patiently [laughing]. How can everyone keep up with you online?
Meelah Williams: All my social media handles are @ItsMeelah for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s the same for my website [www.itsmeelah.com], but I’m revamping everything. I’m under new management, with a new label, new "er’thang (laughing). I don’t have a snapchat, and don’t y’all come for me (laughing). I think I’m the only one in the world who don’t have one.
U.G. Digital Mag: I’ll keep it real with you. I can’t get with it [Snapchat]. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing [laughing].
Meelah Williams: We’re neck and neck. I’m already giving y’all all of me in three other places, what more do you want? [laughing]
U.G. Digital Mag: It’s crazy. I can’t figure it out, but my ten year old has it down to a science.
Meelah Williams: At least Instagram tried to help us out. It’s all inclusive there. Y’all wanna see what’s up with me, follow me on Instagram. I also recently added a camera crew to my team, so I’ll be in the studio today, and you’ll see some things on my YouTube channel, eventually maybe even a webisode.
U.G. Digital Mag: People look forward to it. Thank you again, so much for today, for our first issue, and everything.
Meelah Williams: I’m so happy I was able to help.