Interviews in this issue:
|A few weeks ago I had a surprise
phone call from Marissa! Well, actually it was from her
alter ego, Shanesia Davis-Williams, who had called me
about the Fan Festival for Early Edition. But what
a treat to talk with her! It was like chatting with a
Shanesia is warm and friendly and puts one right at ease immediately, especially when she conveys her sincere thanks and appreciation to fans of Early Edition for their support of the show and her character, Marissa Clark. She simply cannot say enough about fans and fan support in helping to save her character when it looked as if Marissa might be written out. In fact, it was difficult to even slip in a word to her about how her superb acting talent helped a whole lot, too, while she was speaking about fans. Shanesia's graciousness and kindness is surpassed only by her talent as a professional actress. She did mention that her character would have more involvement in the episodes this season and a "new look"--no more braids!
I had hoped to reconnect with her for an extended interview, but we have not yet had the chance to make contact. However, in celebration of Shanesia's birthday, which is September 30th, I thought I would share some information compiled from our phone conversation and from other sources, including The L.A. Times' TV TIMES September 15, 1996, article featuring her (written by Susan King)-- just a short "Take Five" with Shanesia.
From reading the CBS Website bio on her, we know that she was born in Detroit, Michigan (the youngest of seven children), became a devoted movie buff, and moved to Chicago, where she attended DePaul University, earning her bachelor's degree from The Theater School there. She appeared in numerous plays in both Chicago and Los Angeles, and her theatrical motion pictures include Backdraft, With Honors, and the soon-to-be released film, Hell Cab (possibly retitled Chicago Cab), with John Cusak and Gillian Anderson. On TV, she has also been seen in such made-for-television movies as Gabriel's Fire, Missing Persons, and Making a Case for Murder. Shanesia is married and lives in Chicago with her husband and their infant daughter.
Take Five Questions
How did you land the part of Marissa and what attracted you to the role?
Landing the role of the independent, blind Marissa Clark on CBS' fantasy-drama Early Edition was "totally a dream come true" for Chicago stage actress Shanesia Davis-Williams. "My whole standpoint is that I had nothing to do [with getting the job]," she explains. "This is all a higher power, and no matter who or what tries, no one can take that away because it was just meant to be."
"There is a certain wisdom in her youth beyond her years," Davis-Williams says of Marissa. "Whether it comes from her disability or not, there is a lot we can learn from her." This is why the role appealed to Shanesia.
What kind of research have you done--or do you continue to do-- for the role?
Shanesia Davis-Williams researched her role at the Chicago Guild of the Blind. "I go back depending on what the episode calls for and just to make sure that everything is correct," she says. "I want to make her as real as possible. Everyone who is blind is not going to like my portrayal, but I have to do what is true for me."
What was the audition like for your part of Marissa Clark?
"I auditioned for Early Edition in Chicago and then went out to Los Angeles for several more meetings. I did three auditions [in one day], and by the time it was done that night I had the job. It was kind of surreal, actually. It was like something somebody dreams about. I have always been, like, in my own little dream world since I was a kid...this proves that...sometimes dreams come true.
What film or TV stars were your favorites while you were growing up?
"I loved Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Lucille Ball is, like, the most genius comedian who ever graced the screen, in my opinion. She was one of the women I really admired. A lot of roles I would initially go out for were, like, sex kittens, and all of that, and this is not my personality. I like big comedy. I love doing that type of role now."
Will you be attending The Fan Festival for Early Edition in 1999?
"I will certainly try to..."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHANESIA!!
STUNTMAN COORDINATOR RICK LeFEVOUR TAKES THE TUMBLES FOR KYLE
|How did you get
involved in stunt work and how long have you been doing
I went to Japan for a year and worked in a wild west show. Then moved to California.
What is the most dangerous stunt you've done on Early Edition?
We've done a lot of difficult stunts on this show. But in the episode "Hot Time in the Old Town" the scene in Mrs. O'Leary's barn, when Kyle was engulfed in a fireball and was sent into time, was dangerous. Because working with fire is always dangerous.
Have you ever been seriously injured? If so, when?
No, in my career I've been pretty lucky, I haven't been seriously injured.
Have you ever done other work as a double for Kyle in other projects?
No, Early Edition is my first project to work with Kyle.
Have you ever been asked to do a stunt and declined?
No, so far I have been able to do whatever was in the scene according to the script.
What's the best perk a stuntman gets?
The opportunity to do things other people don't such as a car chase, rollover, or high falls.
Have you ever delayed a project because you felt a stunt was not set up properly?
You never want to delay production if possible. But yes, we believe in safety first and wouldn't do a stunt unless everyone was prepared.
What stunt have you not done that you would like to?
Working out west, doing western stunts like horsework.
What one word describes you?
What's the funniest stunt moment you can remember on Early Edition?
In the first season we did an episode at a Chinese restaurant. We had two air monitor mortars filled with Chinese food (approx 10 lbs). We had Chinese food flying everywhere and I haven't eaten it since.
How well do you and Kyle get along?
You don't often hear about actors that are easy going, and Kyle is very easy going, very professional. You can ask anyone on the crew and they'll tell you he's great to work with.
Since you and Kyle must work closely together, is there a secret about Kyle you'd like to share?
Kyle is a far better athlete than the character he portrays. He does very well with the stunts.
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