Checking In With...Checking In With… Caroline, or Change Star Samantha WilliamsWilliams plays Emmie Thibodeaux in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's musical at Studio 54.
December 02, 2021
This week Playbill catches up with Samantha Williams, who currently plays Emmie Thibodeaux in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Tony-nominated musical Caroline, or Change at Studio 54.
A graduate of Pace University, Williams made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning Dear Evan Hansen, playing Alana Beck, a role she also performed in the musical's national tour.
What is your typical day like now? My days have been pretty busy lately, so after around 12 PM, they could look like anything. But the morning time is always mine and always the same. I wake up around 8:30-9 AM, do some hot yoga or take a run in Central Park, and make myself some breakfast. A quiet, personal morning is how I try to start every single day.
Can you describe how it felt to be back in the rehearsal room on the first day you and the cast reassembled? I spent months over the pandemic dreaming about what my first day back would feel like. Would I be nervous? Overly excited? Scared? It turned out I felt calm. Everything that was supposed to happen was finally becoming a reality. It was magic. We all had this new sense of ownership toward the story. It is a day I'll never forget.
This musical seems particularly relevant following the events of the past 18 months. Can you discuss some of the moments that seem particularly poignant for Emmie? We are living through a second revolution, and it is an absolute honor to be doing art that is a protest in itself. Tony Kushner was prophetic when writing this story. The moment when Emmie reveals she is the one who tore down the confederate statue at the courthouse is a direct reflection of the statues all across America being torn down today. In our climate of unrest, I believe Emmie represents the hope that is so easy to lose. She is the voice of the next generation. As am I.
What would you say to audience members who may be feeling uneasy about returning to live theatre? Trust science! Get the vaccine. We can be safe and still enjoy art. The Roundabout Theatre Company has been so incredible at making all of us feel safe at the theatre.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further? I want them to be aware of their power, voice, and platform. Just because people are now aware of the systemic racism that seeps through this industry, doesn't mean that the problem has been solved. People in power need to begin speaking up. This industry has so much work to do if it wants to get up to speed with the rest of the world.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest? This time is hard. We are dealing with two global pandemics, racism and COVID-19. Both seem to creep up out of nowhere. A piece of advice I would give to people struggling during this time would be to find joy in the little moments.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past year-and-a-half that you didn't already know? I learned so much about myself. I learned that I am more than my art or my success. I'm a person outside of any gift or talent I may have. I learned to love the simple version of myself.