Kris Dodds Williams made her acting debut at 6 as Goldie Locks in a school production and has had the acting bug ever since. After being born and raised in Southern Indiana, Williams moved to Danville to study theatre at Averett University. There she played her favorite role of all time, Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project. “I was able to interpret a character who represented a real person who had experienced struggles that in some ways mirrored my own at that time in my life.” Taking the stage as that character is what gave Williams the confirmation that she was to do theatre for the rest of her life.
After graduating from Averett, Williams was concerned about finding theatre work in small town Danville, Virginia. She stayed and remained hopeful that an opportunity would come along while working customer service and restaurant jobs, as most theatre artists do. Finally, in 2009, she received an offer to become the drama teacher at Tunstall High School, where she works to this day. In addition to teaching drama and yearbook, Williams is the director for Tunstall’s award-winning productions. Outside of school, she is also an actor and director, among many other roles, at Smokestack Theatre Company.
When asked how she prepares for a role, Williams says, “For me, I tend to prepare for acting roles the same way I attack a show that I’m directing. I like to see what the actor has in mind.” She thinks it is not only vital that she does her own research in the script to find her character, but also to find out what research her fellow actors have done for their characters, and how those decisions might affect her. Communication is key. “Theatre is such a collaborative effort. If your cast and crew communicate well, it only leads to the success of the show.”
Williams stresses it is imperative for actors to collaborate. “An actor must also be willing to make someone else look good onstage for the sake of the show. As much as an actor prepares a role, learns the lines, learns the blocking, and adheres to the vision of the production staff and director, they must also be able to turn on a dime, improvise, and be so very present in the moment. As much as it sometimes seems like ‘actors’ are self-absorbed, the best actors I’ve worked with and learned from are those who are the most gracious team players.”
One of the most common questions an actor gets is “What’s your dream role?” For Williams, there is no single dream role. She just tries to bring her best performance to every character she plays. She says, “I think that the best and most coveted roles are the ones you don’t know about yet–the role that you never knew ‘you were right for.’”
Serving as the current Board President, Williams is very excited for the upcoming year for Smokestack Theatre Company. She will be the director for Clue: On Stage happening in early July. “We have been in our new space for a year now. We have a season that is engaging, entertaining, and innovative! I am looking forward to all the experiences that STC will create for people who may not have even known it existed before they walked into the house. I am looking forward to classes, shows, production meetings, collaboration, and PERFORMANCE!”