Comedian known for The Daily Show and 2 Dope Queens
"Jessica Williams is an American actress and comedian who was formerly a senior correspondent on The Daily Show.
Williams made her Daily Show debut on January 11, 2012, [becoming the Daily Show’s youngest ever correspondent]. Williams is a frequent performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. Williams also made appearances on Season 3 of HBO's Girls. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and Los Angeles, California. She appears in the film People Places Things.
She currently co-hosts the comedy podcast 2 Dope Queens with Phoebe Robinson. Williams [appeared] in an HBO special spun off from the podcast in February, 2018. She appeared on her last Daily Show episode on June 30, 2016. She is the star of the 2017 Netflix comedy movie The Incredible Jessica James, in which she portrays a character whom the Guardian described as "a struggling Brooklyn-based playwright navigating the murky waters of modern romance while waiting impatiently for her big break." She will appear in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, titled Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, in an undisclosed role.” (1)
Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times writes “During her “Daily Show” tenure, Ms. Williams helped create the WNYC podcast “2 Dope Queens,” on which she and Phoebe Robinson, her friend and a fellow comedian, swap stories and host performers, with an emphasis on women, minority and L.G.B.T.Q. guests.
“We try to make sure we’re the stars of our own narratives,” Ms. Williams explained. It’s a maxim she tries to apply to the film and television roles she seeks out, and those she does not pursue. Though fans expressed some disappointment when she said she did not want to be considered for Mr. Stewart’s job when he left “The Daily Show” in 2015, Ms. Williams said it was an easy decision.
“I know what I’d be incredible at, and I know what I wouldn’t be as great at,” she explained. “I didn’t want to insert myself into that narrative to please everybody else. I was listening to my heart and making sure I honored what I was truly excellent at.”
Ms. Robinson said Ms. Williams has been careful to step back and assess the bigger picture at moments when expectations can feel overwhelming. “I can’t even imagine dealing with all this attention on her — wondering if people really want to be her friend or if they just want access to Jon Stewart,” Ms. Robinson said. She added, “She’s giving herself opportunities to be a normal person and not have capital letters Jessica Williams be the thing that defines her.”
Those outlets can include smaller roles in films like “People Places Things,” an independent 2015 comedy written and directed by Jim Strouse. While he promoted that movie at the Sundance Film Festival, Mr. Strouse recalled, “I kept saying what a powerful screen presence Jessica is, and how I couldn’t wait until she had her own film.” He added, “I left Sundance thinking I’m going to write something for her.” That film was “The Incredible Jessica James,” which Mr. Strouse directed and wrote in close consultation with Ms. Williams, who is one of its executive producers.” (2)