Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Kit Williamson, is a young Jackson native pursuing acting in New York City. Williamson attended St. Andrews before leaving for Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school in Michigan. Williamson is now a sophomore at Fordham University, majoring in acting and playwriting and interned for the JFP for two summers. This interview came on the eve of his first Broadway role as an understudy in "Talk Radio," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by Eric Bogosian, based on the life of a radio shock-jock. Since then, however, Williamson is now co-starring as Spike, the protagonist's sound engineer.
How does your family feel about your chosen career in acting?
My parents were totally supportive then, and they still are now. They always said, "If you want it, go get it and be serious about it." Basically, they would have supported me in anything as long as I was dedicated to it. And I had always known that I wanted to be an actor.
What was it like to go to an arts boarding school?
It was less like a school and more like a bizarre artists' commune in the frozen woods of Michigan. There was no sunlight, and it was very cold, but it was so amazing to be surrounded by passion—especially in high school. You got very close to other people especially since we lived in cramped quarters.
Do you have any particularly special or weird memories from high school?
You know, my fondest memories are my most pretentious memories. Because everything back then was defined by how you felt about art. And there's something inherently pretentious about wanting to be an artist (laughs).
Wait a minute, could you explain that?
Yeah, I mean, to claim that you are contributing enough to society as an artist to deserve getting paid ... that's a bit pretentious! (laughs) I always feel incredulous that I can get paid to do this.
You're just a sophomore in college, yet you're in a Broadway play. Is it common for college students to work so early?
No, it's not really that common, especially at a regular liberal arts college. But I saw lots of seniors go through the craziness of trying to complete their senior year and try to get their careers started at the same time. That situation is just awful because you have lots of schoolwork piled up that you need to do before graduating, and you have to run around trying to get work. I just decided that I didn't want to go through that.
How did you catch a break like this? What were the steps leading up to this role?
Well, I did a lot of shows at Fordham. I did about nine shows including "Slavs" by Tony Kushner, which was really cool because (Kushner) was really involved with the production. Mike Kimmel, the assistant director to "Slavs," also directs for Push Productions off-Broadway, and he asked me to audition for "Marat/Sade." That play also happens to be my favorite play of all time. I auditioned, I got the part, and the play ran for a month at Access Theater in Tribeca. I sent out a mailing with my headshots to 45 agents, and an agent's assistant, who had come to see someone else, called me in.
What happened from there?
The agent was Barbara Andreadis, and she's now my agent. When I went to see him, I did a monologue from "The Goat" by Albee. So my first audition with them was for "Talk Radio."
You obviously did well, but were you nervous for your first professional audition?
No. (laughs) No, I wasn't nervous because I was really prepared. I worked with a teacher and a coach to prepare for the audition.
Was there any particular person in Jackson who inspired you?
Yes! John Maxwell. He is amazing. He does one-man shows, and he coached me in high school and helped with my college monologues. He's had a profound influence on me.
Since this interview, Williamson has joined the cast of "Talk Radio" in the role of Spike. He is still an understudy for Kent, but now has his first Broadway role under his belt. Congratulations, Kit!
Correction added above: The name of Williamson's agent was written incorrectly in the original story.