'Feeling Black All the Time' Stresses Jessica Williams Out


In light of all the hubbub and hullabaloo around the addition three black women to SNL — two writers and one cast member — folks have been reaching out to The Daily Show’s fantastic Jessica Williams to get her thoughts on her life and career as a black women in comedy. And, per usual, Williams’ two cents are solid gold.

Williams, who began working as a correspondent for TDS last year after being plucked from her college finals, was interviewed by Mother Jones’ Lauren Williams. The pair discussed, Williams’ upcoming stint on Girls, a show that, like SNL, has seen its share of accusations of being racially exclusive. In defense of the show’s creator (and her friend) Lena Dunham, Williams said,

Her show has always been put through a magnifying glass, and I always take it with a grain of salt, because it’s her art and it’s her voice. It’s not her responsibility to write from my experience.

Which is a pretty diplomatic way to acknowledge that yeah, Girls doesn’t necessarily speak to her life experience, but that it’s not entirely fair to lay all of the punishment for a systematic problem on a single show. Well played, Williams.

But this bit, on how Williams sees herself (and hopes to be seen) as a comedian, writer, and actress who happens to be a black woman, and not the other way around, is especially poignant and honest,

I’m not walking around feeling black all the time. That would stress me out. It would make me crack. Some days I do feel that pressure of, “What do I mean as a black woman? What am I representing?” It honestly just gives me anxiety. Ultimately, when I deliver something, a lot of times it will be from a black woman’s perspective, but other times it will be just from a satirical, goofy perspective. I’m a young correspondent, so sometimes I’m just young. Sometimes I’m just straightforward.

As for her future goals, Williams says she doesn’t have her sights set on Jon Stewart’s anchor desk (blast!) but that she’d love to write, direct, and act. At only 24 years old and already on top of the world, I can’t wait to see what else she’s able to do.

In the meantime, since learning that Jessica Williams was born in 1989, I’ll be boarding the old lady barge and sailing off into the sunset. It’s been real.

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