Meet Stunning Actress Alessandra Williams

“I often play clincher roles. I like to push the boundaries of my work.”

(Antoine Verglas)

“The ups and downs of acting are par for the course,” says actress and model Alessandra Williams. Those words likely ring true for thespians at all levels, but in Williams’ case, the ups seem considerably more plentiful than the downs.

A card-carrying member of both the Actor’s Studio and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Williams has found Hollywood success while wearing several different hats. As an actor, she’s appeared in HBO’s How to Make It In America, as well as star-studded movies like 2018’s Jim Caviezel-led Paul, Apostle of Christ and 2011’s Michael Fassbender-led Shame. The latter launched her career and was directed by Steve McQueen, whose next film, 12 Years a Slave, won Best Picture at the Oscars.

“I often play clincher roles,” Williams says. “I’m the one who always flips everything on its head…or gets everything flipped on hers. I like to push the boundaries of my work.”

But Williams’ greatest success has come in the triple-threat role of director, writer and star of 2022’s Green Kola.

Also starring model and actress Eugenia Kuzmina, restaurateur Todd English, and Katherine Wallach (Goodfellas, Gangs of New York), the meta comedic mockumentary about the film industry’s opportunistic players claimed “Best Short Film” at both the Paris Independent Film Festival and London International Film Festival, as well as Best Comedic Short at the Manhattan Film Festival.

The film festival cleanup was a big win for both Williams and longtime Maxim photographer Antoine Verglas, who served as producer on Green Kola. Read on to learn more about Williams’ experience working with McQueen, her encounter with Matt Damon, and more.

What was it like working with Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen on Shame?

It was a very heavy film, and Steve is a master. He won the Oscar the next year for 12 Years a Slave—he’s really a remarkable filmmaker.

I was cast by the OG casting director Avy Kauffman. When I showed up, Steve introduced himself and made me very comfortable by showing me the set they built for me. He sent me off with an assistant to show me the research he’d prepared for me—not often do I get such detailed prep from the film.

(Antoine Verglas)

After we shot my scenes, it was time for lunch. Lunch always feels like high school on the first day—who sits with who? And I walked in hoping I could sit with the lead cast, but there was Steve holding a seat for me next to him.

He wanted to learn about by background and how I became an actor. He let me improvise my scene and go off the cuff, and he was so impressed. I’ll never forget how kind he was to me. I hope I get to meet him again and let him know how much my experience with him meant to me and how it really built my confidence moving through my 20s, as I was only 19 years old on that movie.

You mentioned the ups and downs of the film industry and how being a member of the Actors Studio and SAG has helped you stay afloat. Can you elaborate?

I started acting professionally when I was only 16 years old, and I had tremendous success right away. I worked on every network from HBO, CBS, CW, to the studios of Paramount, Sony, and Disney’s Marvel. When I moved to Los Angeles from NYC it was a different world. I went from everyone being very impressed with me being an actress in NYC where I grew up to being in the land of no F’s given. It was like the magic was sucked out of saying “I’m an actress” because everyone in LA is in another world.

I worked a bit but not as much as NYC, and thank god for SAG as my residual checks have kept me afloat through much of my down time. And the Actors Studio is a sanctuary for actors. It’s a grueling process to become a member there. We get to work Academy Award winners every week—all of us for free sharing our experience and knowledge.

(Antoine Verglas)

I have been able to continue to grow as an artist, stay inspired, and expand my experience without having to win an audition. If ever depression from not working would come about I would just dig deeper into my craft with these amazing artists and count my blessings. When it was a low in LA, the Actors Studio cast me in a play. During that run of the play, I was offered a role in Paul, Apostle of Christ, which resurrected my career. I am forever grateful.  

How can someone catch your attention?

A sense of humor and hygiene are very attractive, but you don’t have to be super funny if it’s not natural, you can be confident and self-aware without cracking jokes. I like a man that can take the lead and pick the place, the wine, and the food, but who can also be sensible enough to let me make my own decisions.

How do you let someone know you’re interested?

If I compliment him on something, it is a pretty good sign, or if I ask deeper questions. If we’ve just just met and I touch his hand or arm, that’s also a good sign.

Tell us about your dream date.

I think it would be great to do things old-fashioned. It always works to be classy. Send me flowers before any date, and be careful, as the kind of flower also says a lot about you. Then ask for the date, and have a plan in mind—something you like to do that you think I might like to do. And don’t try to sleep with me on the first date; it negates the entire effort you just put in.

(Antoine Verglas)

Who’s your biggest celebrity crush?

Theo James and Chris Pratt currently. Just dreamy men. Theo reminds me of a British James Dean. And Chris is so strong and handsome. I can’t believe I kissed James in a show… it was my idea. We were blocking the scene for Golden Boy and I was like, “It makes sense if we would kiss goodbye in the kitchen.” That video made it to the Super Bowl and Times Square that year! 

Have you ever been star-struck by a celebrity?

Yes, it was Matt Damon! I was maybe 20 years old and I had just attended the premier of Promised Land that was up for the Oscar that year, and a waitress turned to him right in front of me and asked if he wanted a “potato pouf.” He turned and looked at me and said “looks like a tater tot to me”—ha! I just remember being like, “Is he talking to me?!” Then he handed me one and we ate together off the little toothpicks. We spoke and I can’t remember anything after that—I blacked out. I met so many talented people in the industry, but something about Matt hit me different.

What’s on your favorite music playlist?

I really like soothing and relaxing music. Ambiance is essential.

What TV shows and movies have you been watching lately?

I’ve really enjoyed Love and Death with Elizabeth Olsen. People compare me to her sometimes, and so I watched, and she’s really something. I love shows/movies based on true events. 

Do you have a favorite athlete or sports team?

Go Knicks, go Randle, go Brunson!

What fashion brands are your faves?

I love fashion, and I wear it all. A classic Chanel bag with some AG denim, and a flowing Gucci or Cavalli top is always a simple chic choice. Or a little business-chic with an ALC dress and Giuseppe Zanotti boots. I like fabrics that are comfortable and a bit flirty and feminine.

(Antoine Verglas)

What’s your absolute favorite food or meal?

I love fresh food. If you know about higher-conscious eating, then I am impressed. As a treat I love Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese and French food.

Favorite travel destination?

A place where I am shooting a movie on-location.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Sweets and massages. NEED! ALWAYS!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Let love shine on the path.

Follow Alessandra on Instagram @tastethevino and @the_alessandra_williams.