Michelle Williams' new role: headliner

BeyonceArts and CultureDestiny's Child (music group)Alfre WoodardMichelle WilliamsMichael DouglasMeryl Streep

As a member of the hit girl-group Destiny's Child, Michelle Williams had a backup role to frontwoman Beyonce. But as an actress, Williams has found herself playing the leading lady.

With stints in Broadway plays such as "Aida," "The Color Purple" and "Chicago," Williams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned thespian.

Williams' latest role, in the play "What My Husband Doesn't Know," is Lena Summer, a married woman who struggles with fidelity. Williams talked about her longtime love of acting, her future projects in music and on stage, and about Beyonce's pregnancy.

How does it feel to be the center of attention?

You're definitely vulnerable — especially with theater. You are naked out there. You have one shot. There are no second takes.

How much time do you dedicate to pursuing acting?

You never stop. I take acting classes. I read articles. I try to study the acting legends. I YouTube their performances. I study the greats: Meryl Streep, Alfre Woodard, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker. I'm also amazed by people like Denzel [Washington] and Michael Douglas. They are so cool. Alfre Woodard looks like she's having so much fun acting, it doesn't look like she's acting. It's so effortless.

How much do you stay in contact with the rest of the members of Destiny's Child?

We're in touch often. I think people would be surprised by how much we stay in contact. I was in Miami for 10 days. Kelly [Rowland] lives there, and she always lets me stay with her. [Beyonce] is always updating me and e-mailing me about the status of her and Jay's baby. And sending me pictures. We're always in touch.

Any truth to a Destiny's Child reunion?

That is what we haven't talked about among the three of us. Whenever we're all in the same city, we'll meet up for dinner or in one of our hotel rooms, and we'll just talk. We talk about everything else.

Why not?

I don't know. I think it will naturally come up.

How difficult is it for African-American actresses to land quality parts?

It's crazy. Very few roles are made for African-Americans. That is why you have to tell your agent that you have to fight for this role. I know that Halle Berry has gone out for roles that were not made for an African-American. We can create our own role and do our own thing, and then do roles that are not stereotypic for an African-American to play. Actresses like Sanaa Lathan and Zoe Saldana have inspired me. They have done roles that are amazing.

Any other roles in the future?

I want to get on that big screen so bad. I've done Broadway. The thing I like about theater is that every night I am perfecting my craft. With six to nine shows a week, you better be good. Being in this play with Morris Chestnut is such an honor. It's weird, because he gets shy about the stuff that he's done.

What about any solo projects?

I'm working on something for next year. It's been in my heart to do another gospel record. That's all I can do is be me and do that good inspirational record. It should be out next year.

Is Beyonce pregnant? What do you say when you see stories that she has a surrogate or anything like that?

It is just unfortunate. For the past 10 years, they've been saying, "I hope she has a baby — get pregnant, get pregnant." Now that she is pregnant, they're saying that she's not. Make up your mind. But I've touched her stomach, and it's real.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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