fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

A Hollywood Leading Lady Who Is Leading with Her Heart

Interview By Lisa Burwell | Written by Tori Phelps  | Photography by Giuliano Bekor / CPi Syndication

“Relatable” isn’t usually how you’d describe an actress starring on a hit TV show. Then again, Virginia Williams isn’t most actresses. On a break from filming—while she was sick, no less—Williams found time to discuss Fairly Legal, the projects closest to her heart, and why she feels “insanely blessed.” Maybe it was her innate graciousness or the bubbly laugh that belied how lousy she really felt, but it took all of five minutes with this appealingly down-to-earth actress to be put under the same spell she has cast on Hollywood.

Virginia Williams has a charming Southern accent that slips through when she’s off the clock. And while she’s a fine actress, this is the real deal. A Memphis-raised Southern belle, Williams adores her hometown and anxiously anticipates trips back home to visit her folks several times a year.

Right now, business is too good for more frequent trips.

Williams landed the plum role of Lauren Reed on USA’s Fairly Legal, a dramedy with two popular seasons under its belt. The USA network is known for its unique, not-gonna-see-this-on-another-show characters, and Williams is thrilled that hers falls into that category. The premise is simple enough: After her decades-older husband dies, Lauren has to keep their law firm going while butting heads with her intrepid same-age stepdaughter, Kate, a mediator who’s also a partner in the firm. Since Kate is the main character, it would be easy to make Lauren a cookie-cutter villain. But part of what makes this show so addictive is that there’s no black and white; rather than “good” or “evil,” the characters are just complex, layered people.

Cream dress on Virginia Williams Hollywood Leading Lady

And for that, Williams is grateful. She clearly has a deep fondness for her character that’s due, in part, to Lauren’s flaws. “She’s exacting and proper and extremely stylish, but she’s also fun and a delight to play,” Williams explains. “It would have been easier to play her as a one-dimensional character, but I’ve tried very hard to show her depth.”

She confides that her portrayal of Lauren is infused with a generous helping of “steel magnolia”: strong and independent yet very feminine. To bring Lauren to life, Williams drew inspiration from the many tough-but-tender Dixie divas in her life. “Southern women are extremely good at getting what they want,” she smiles.

Another source of inspiration: Grace Kelly. Williams studied every movie the Hollywood legend made so she could imbue Lauren with her expressions and mannerisms. This resulted in an uncanny authentic resemblance between the two actresses, gestures and carriage included.

The hometown pride that’s sprinkled throughout her conversations is just one more reason Williams seems so real. Even the story behind meeting her husband (a fellow Memphis native, of course) is adorable. True, it includes Los Angeles and agents, but rather than the all-too-common tale of her “people” setting her up with a fellow actor to raise her profile, she simply ran into a cute guy who was paying his dues in the mailroom at her agent’s office. Instead of chucking true love in favor of someone able to open more doors for her, she grabbed hold with both hands. The tight couple now juggles her work schedule and his career as a literary manager while keeping their relationship top priority. “We try never to spend more than ten days apart,” she adds.

Fairly Legal star Virginia Williams

And when she does have to be separated from her husband, the friends she’s made in her adopted hometown keep her going. Of her newfound pals, she confides, “I didn’t find the stereotypical shallowness that I was expecting. I have really genuine friends here—lots of girlfriends from all walks of life.”

Making friends seems to come easily to Williams, which is a good thing since her craft has taken her all over the world. She minored in Theology while earning a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Performance from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City, an impressive achievement made even more remarkable considering they only accept eighteen to twenty students each year. Following her NYC years, she studied Shakespeare at both Oxford University and the British American Drama Academy—experiences she calls some of the best of her life.

She didn’t just study the art of acting, however; Williams was already a working actor by the time she hit her teens. Roles on soap operas One Life to Live and As the World Turns were followed by appearances on more than two dozen TV shows, including a recurring role on the CBS hit series How I Met Your Mother and a lead in the Lifetime original series Monarch Cove. The self-proclaimed workaholic used her break from filming Fairly Legal in Vancouver to make two movies this summer: a comedy called Sleeping Around and a horror movie titled The Culling. She also lent her vocal talents to an Irish independent film, Choosing Sign.

Most people would feel exhausted just reading about her work schedule, but she seems to think there’s still room for additional projects—namely a musical TV show or film. “I try to get to New York City once or twice a year to see some shows,” says the music lover.

Broadway isn’t the only activity filling her scarce downtime. Williams is a passionate supporter of Free the Slaves, a charity that fights human trafficking and the sex slave trade. She becomes more animated than usual when discussing the horrors inherent in these crimes and the shocking fact that there are 27 million slaves worldwide at this very moment. As part of her work with the organization, she journeyed to the front lines of Nepal and India in September but says there’s work to be done at home, too. “Los Angeles is one of the top three ports in the world for slave trading,” she points out.

On a more upbeat note, she also lends her time and name to La Fresh, a natural, eco-friendly skin care line. It’s hip to be “green” right now, but Williams agreed to be the company’s celebrity face only because she’s obsessed with the products, using them every day to wipe away the airbrushed makeup that coats her face, neck—and even ears—during long days of filming.

Not that she’s complaining. “I’m insanely blessed to do what I love to do,” she says.

Gratitude—just another reason to love her.


Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail