For Jessica Williams, the seeds for her Fantastic Beasts franchise debut were planted in grade school. “I wanted to be part of the franchise because my teacher started reading us the [Harry Potter] books in the third grade and then I’ve just kind of read them ever since,” she explains to EBONY. “At that time, I think The Chamber of Secrets was out and then the books were being written as we went along. I think as a kid I had always, always, always been obsessed with books like everyone else. And I think I had that sort of fantasy that hopefully one day I'll be a witch.”
When the call came in, Williams, who brought us us laughs on The Daily Show, dazzled us in the Netflix film The Incredible Jessica James, and served up kee-kees in 2 Dope Queens, says it was “no-brainer.” She jumped at the opportunity to play Professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, the Hogwarts Ilvermorny professor who teaches charms, because “she is this brilliant Black witch and just someone that I am really excited to portray in this universe [plus I get to] give Black people more stuff to cosplay.”
Williams’ appearance in 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald served as a mere introduction, with The Secrets of Dumbledore, she really got a chance to dig into the role and she loved it. “As if I didn't know a lot about the wizarding world already, I was really excited that I got to crack into my mobile collection of wands and just practice wand work but getting paid for it.”
But it got even better she shares. “It was really surreal to finally get to set and be in these amazing costumes from Colleen Atwood in this 1930s wear and just be on the sets that were two to three stories tall, and be able to be in the actual Hawkshead Tavern or to be at Hogwarts in the dining hall.”
As for if she could have any superpower, the Los Angeles native keeps it surprisingly simple and relatable. “I would really just want to be able to detangle my hair,” she says in all seriousness. “It's 4C, stage four kinky-coily, and has been since I was a kid in between my mom's legs just going ouch while she detangled it on the couch.”
When it comes to why you will totally enjoy The Secrets of Dumbledore, Williams shares, “I’ve got some amazing stunts, some amazing magic. My hair looks great. The film looks great. Everything was just really fun to do. I know on my end, it was a joy to make so, hopefully, it will be a joy to watch.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opens in theatres Friday, April 15.