If you were an ingenue, of color, who wants to keep her bank account growing it would not be a bad look—at all—to be considered Tyler Perry’s new muse. If we’ve learned anything since the reign of King Perry is that he knows how to build a financial empire, his brand, and his legacy.
Ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce Melissa L. Williams, who according to her biography, is Perry’s newest muse. Williams made waves first on BET’s #1 ranked new scripted series “Tyler Perry’s The Oval,” which earned her the lead role in Perry’s spin-off series “Tyler Perry’s Ruthless,” as the title character Ruth Truesdale. Now playing on BET’s new streaming platform, BET Plus.
BET’s “The Oval,” tells the story of a family placed in the White House by people of power while also highlighting the personal side and everyday lives of the staff who run the inner workings of the nation’s most iconic residence.
Perry’s spin-off series, “Tyler Perry’s: Ruthless,” tells the riveting story of a woman named Ruth who kidnaps her young daughter to join her in the dark underworld of a fanatical religious cult.
Williams grew up in Oklahoma City as the oldest of seven and utilized her family holiday gatherings to put together and star in her own talent shows. A natural performer from an early age, she set out to do as much local theater as she could find in Oklahoma City, eventually heading to Clark University in Atlanta for college to study theater. Williams joined the CAU Players, the University’s drama club, which puts on various productions yearly ranging from classical works, musical works, children’s productions, and one-act play festivals. Melissa starred as Carmen in F.A.M.E. during her time in the CAU Players. After leaving the University of Atlanta, Melissa went to get additional technical training so that she could produce projects herself and applied it to several music videos she produced when she moved to LA.
Williams now calls Los Angeles home which she happily shares with her new French bulldog, Ray.
Here’s what vegetarian and a self-proclaimed “foodie” Melissa L. Williams had to share about being inside Tyler Perry’s galaxy and what she did to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Let’s get straight to it. According to your biography, you are officially Tyler Perry’s new muse. What’s that like?
MELISSA WILLIAMS: It’s definitely an honor to be working with Tyler Perry. When I auditioned The Oval [“Tyler Perry’s The Oval”] he called me and shared that he had been wanting to work with me.
LAS: Really? That’s flipping huge. Sorry. Continue.
MW: (laughing) No. You’re right. It is big. After my first audition, he said that he thought that Ruth would be a better role for me. He asked me to think about it. I told him yes—immediately on the phone but he said, no, think about it and then he said to text him and let him know.
LAS: I’m feeling how big of a deal that was for you.
MW: Right? You understand. Tyler Perry called me and then told me to text him after I thought about the role of Ruth. That was the best part of being cast. He called me directly and wanted me to do Ruth.
LAS: What is like to work with Tyler Perry?
MW: Wonderful. He leads the morning prays every day before we begin filming. He’s there calling ‘that’s a wrap’ at the end of the day. We get a great sense of Perry’s work ethic. He’s involved in everything. He has a vision.
LAS: That’s an understatement. Did he direct every episode?
MW: He did.
LAS: How many episodes?
MW: We shot 24 episodes in 13 days.
LAS: Hello. Did I hear this correctly? Repet it again, slowly.
MW: We shot 24 episodes in 13 days and Tyler Perry wrote and directed each episode.
LAS: How long are the episodes?
MW: 48 minutes.
LAS: I am speechless? That’s amazing.
MW: He’s a genius. He has a vision and he has a work ethic. Tyler is a legend and there is a lot of respect for what he has created. The goal is to get the job done and come out with a wonderful product at the end.
LAS: Amazing. I’m newly inspired. Does he encourage those around him to step out and pursue their dreams?
MW: Absolutely he does. He tells us that if he can do it, we can do it.
LAS: Do you believe it?
MW: Of course, I do.
LAS: So do I. Here I come Tyler Perry. I’ve heard that you have stepped up and made your presence known during this awful pandemic. Can you share how you did that and why?
MW: I experienced random acts of kindness in my condo building. For example, someone had left a package of toilet paper with a note that said, if you need one, take one, much love from 301. It was so thoughtful and selfless at this time when you literally can’t buy toilet paper anywhere. I was really inspired by that kindness and began interacting with some people on Instagram, whom all expressed a need for money due to the financial hardships they were experiencing during this time. So I asked them for their Cash App username and send them the money for whatever they need it for. I am grateful to be able to do that.
LAS: What’s next for you? You’re lovely by the way.
MW: Thank you. Next. I am auditioning. I tape myself at home and send it off. Hopefully, some of these projects come through. I am excited. And then I am hoping for The Oval to come back.
“Tyler Perry’s Ruthless” (https://bet.us/34QAQen now playing on BET’s new streaming platform, BET Plus.
This phone interview has been edited for length and clarity.