Actress Michelle Ingrid Williams knew early on in her life that acting was what she wanted to do. A local stage production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer kicked off a lifelong love of acting. After seeing that production, she would go on to perform in an amateur production of Annie. Her parents Carla and Larry Williams, would drive her from San Diego to Los Angeles to audition for parts, but it wasn't until 1993 that she would first grace Television screens in an episode of Baywatch. While most or all of Williams' money comes from her prolific career as an actress, her unique choices and moving portrayals are how Michelle Williams achieved a net worth of thirty-million dollars.
Self Reliance is Key
Michelle was born September 9, 1980, in Kalispell, Montana. For years before her family moved west to California, she grew up in the area where her family had been for generations. Though Williams had four siblings, the family was not overwhelmingly close. However, her relationship with her father was closer than most. Larry R. Williams is an author and commodities trader who taught his daughter to shoot and fish. By the time she was nine, the family had relocated to San Francisco, and the introverted Michelle was already well on the path to self-reliance. As an adult, Michelle Williams has fought tirelessly for wage equality. By the age of fifteen, she knew that she intended to pursue acting full time. With permission from her parents, she filed for emancipation to partially circumvent child labor laws. After that, Michelle moved to Burbank for easier access to auditions.
In her early career, Michelle guest-starred on Step-By-Step and Home Improvement. However, her first major motion picture role was in the movie Species. While Natasha Henstridge played the adult version of the alien-human hybrid, Michelle portrayed the younger form of the creature. After her emancipation and subsequent relocation, the actress took work in television commercials and several low-budget films to support herself. In 1996 and 1997, the actress took minor roles in several films, including My Son Is Innocent and A Thousand Acres with Michelle Pfieffer. However, in 1998, she finally got a bigger break. Williams was in Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later with Jamie Lee Curtis, but that wasn't the part that garnered her serious attention. Dawson's Creek was wildly popular in the late 90s and early 2000s. Michelle took a well-deserved starring role as Jen Lindley along with co-stars Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, and James VanDerBeek. Despite relocating to Wilmington, North Carolina, the young actress made time to work on other film projects. Although her role as Jen offered financial stability, it wasn't well suited to Michelle's real-world personality. Pursuing other roles in comedies such as But I'm A Cheerleader, and Dick offered more satisfaction. In 1999 and 2000, Michelle took on roles that included nude scenes. While her parents weren't thrilled by this, the actress spoke openly to EW about HBO's, If These Walls Could Talk 2, where she was in a lesbian love scene," Doing the nudity in the play was cathartic and freeing, really the best thing that ever happened to me." However, she made an effort to mostly avoid nudity in her career afterward.
Paths Not Taken
While there is no question that Michelle Williams is a superb actress, she had another skill learned from her father. The commodities trader taught his daughter more than hunting and fishing. He also shared his love of trading. Clearly, Williams had a talent for it because, at seventeen, she entered the Robbins World Cup Championship. The prestigious World Cup Trading Championships are competitions typically entered by those who wish to create or further a career in stocks, futures, or a similar financial field. It's no coincidence that her father was the highest winner of all time, and Michelle herself ranked number three. Moreover, she was the first woman to win the title with a return of a thousand percent. Williams could easily have had a future as a stockbroker, hedge fund manager, or financial professional. However, she opted to pursue her passion instead.
Roles and Awards
As her career matured, Michelle Williams has taken roles in such well-known films as Brokeback Mountain, Manchester By The Sea, Shutter Island, and Venom. The actress has received at least four Academy Award Nominations among many others, and she won a Tony award for Best Actress in a Play when she starred in Blackbird. In addition to her time on screen, Williams has worked on Broadway and done several musicals. When she played the wife of PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman opposite Hugh Jackman, she was on the soundtrack. Likewise, in the movie, My Week With Marylin, where she played Marilyn Monroe, Michelle contributed her voice as a singer receiving three credits on the soundtrack and won a Golden Globe Award for that role. While most awards don't contribute to a professional actors' pocketbook, they do acknowledge prowess and outstanding performances. Fortunately, acting pays well, especially when you're as good at it as Michelle Williams.
A Platform for Activism
Not content to simply take her check, Michelle has been outspoken in her continued fight against wage inequality. Famously, she used her Emmy acceptance speech for Fosse/Verdon in 2019 to bring light to the workplace inequality that persists for women of color. Elle Magazine featured a story about her incredible use of her platform. The brief speech called out the wage inequality stating, "...the next time a woman and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents to the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed bc of her workplace environment and not in spite of it. "
Many young actors and actresses peak in their first few roles then disappear into obscurity afterward, content to live on their early earnings. Some pursue other passions and talents. Michelle Williams always intended to make acting into her career, and she has seen a great deal of success due to her hard work and skill in the field. Doubtless, we will see more stellar performances in the future, and we can't wait to see what she does next.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee