Some actresses become that friend you’ve always wanted, in your head. And thanks to Jessica Williams’ regular role as a correspondent on The Daily Show, it is clear that she is one of the coolest friends a girl (or guy) could ever want. Jessica got her start as a child actor, and at 23 became the youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, and also the first black female correspondent. Here are ten reasons to love Jessica Williams, including her own words of empowerment straight from a Twitter memo earlier this year.
1. She got her start as a child actress, but remained normal. Jessica started her professional acting career in 2006 on Nickelodeon’s Just for Kicks, a show produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Matt Dearborn. What makes this start even better, is the show was an ode to female soccer players in the age of Bend It Like Beckham. That’s one way to showcase girlpower. She planned on quitting acting, but the urge to continue did not leave her. It’s no secret that child stars can end up unbalanced, but Jessica has managed to remain real.
3. Jessica is also the friend that discusses harsh issues with the bit of humor that is sometimes necessary. It’s hard to call out an industry when you’re trying to develop there, but she does and it doesn’t seem to be harming her career any. Last January she landed the cover of Wired Magazine and also penned a great article entitled "The World Needs a Smart Gossip Site, and I’m Just the Person to Run It" in which she calls out publishing, clickbait, and throws some love to Oprah while also making a few jokes at the mogul’s expense. And of course, the essay is hilarious.
4. When she’s not working with Whoopi or poking light fun at Oprah, Jessica Williams is working in a community that supports each other. From her initial segments with Samantha Bee, Jessica Williams work showcases that women can support each other. She’s done a lot of work with fellow comedian Phoebe Robinson from tours to this video on the importance of Kwanzaa. And check the comments: Chescaleigh has the top one! Collaboration and support at its best!
5. Jessica Williams uses her platform as a Daily Show correspondent to discuss a variety of issues. While she could focus solely on mainstream issues, she instead uses her space to discuss issues that disproportionately affect black women. Who doesn’t need a friend that will fight for you?
6. Using her platform extends beyond The Daily Show into movies, where Jessica is helping carve a space for black women to act out their humanity, without labels or stereotypes. In this interview with Aisha Harris of Slate, Jessica speaks about the types of roles available in Hollywood.
7. If that wasn’t enough, Jessica Williams solidified her classification as awesome this past February. When Jon Stewart announced he was stepping down from his role as anchor of The Daily Show, fans clamored to have Jessica be the replacement. When she expressed that she didn’t want to host the show, one writer accused Jessica of having impostor syndrome and not thinking highly enough of herself. Another writer than said her response was "firing back" at fans. Jessica took neither lightly and in a series of tweets showcased why she’s not just a friend in your head, she’s also part of the bff circle.
Jessica is acutely aware of her current status in life. Some people are too big for their britches, but not Jessica. She knows her capabilities and is comfortable saying she’s not ready to hold the position of anchor for The Daily Show (although several beg to differ).
Fact 1: I'm not hosting. Thank you but I am extremely under-qualified for the job!— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 16, 2015
Instead she’s honing her craft as a comedian and an actress while continuing to do awesome work for The Daily Show. In the interview below, she talks about getting to work on her subtlety and improv skills in a way that she does not get to do on The Daily Show. And when we remember that this is the show that helped propel the careers of Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Wyatt Cenac, and Michael Che amongst others, you have to give her kudos for putting in work.
8. And there’s no moment too big for a little explanation of black hair. This explanation is so relatable.
Fact 2: These are not dreads. They're marley twists. The fuck?!— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 16, 2015
Obviously this wasn’t the most important takeaway from that series of tweets, but thank you Jessica Williams for providing go-to descriptions for black women hair. Constantly explaining the various choices is exhausting, but thanks to Jessica, life became a lot easier. Next time you get a question about your hair, just send this video:
9. Jessica is clear in her viewpoint. There is no waffling, and she ensures that you understand exactly what it is that she thinks. Social media allows so many public figures to remain vague in their statements, but Jessica has repeatedly ensured that her opinion is clear. In doing so, she gave us all a new mantra: Lean in? No…
No offense, but Lean the Fuck away from me for the next couple of days. I need a minute.— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 17, 2015
10. Lastly, Jessica has reminded us that despite the black woman’s ability to serve and function in so many different ways, her primary responsibility is to herself. Thank you Jessica.
I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours.— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 17, 2015
So seriously, when are we all going out for drinks?
Photo: Larry Busacca / 2015 Getty Images
Kimberly Denise Williams is a Brooklyn born chatterbox living at the fringes of pop culture. You can tweet her @kimberlythinks or visit her website: www.kimberlydenisewilliams.com.