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(At other times it just seems really, really —and the fact that it’s off-putting may reflect more poorly on the viewer than on the character.)And then there’s what goes unspoken. Obviously I will have a lot of great loves in my life.” It just never crops up between these two characters. It’s interesting, because that means, in a way, even if you’re not trying to be political, you kind of are.”Later, she adds: “In a way, that’s kind of what it can mean to be black.”We spoke more about her feelings on that incident, about making I’m really tall, so I loved that this movie is about an unusually tall woman. You left at the beginning of last summer, arguably when things really started to go haywire with the 2016 election.
Jessica and Boone are opposites: He’s as self-deprecating and gibbering as she is self-assured and unnervingly direct. “What I loved about Jessica,” says Williams, “is that she’s a black woman, and that is part of her identity. They fought for me to be able to stand up here in the cold-ass snow in front of a bunch of white people wearing Uggs”); then for publicly tussling with Salma Hayek over matters of intersectional feminism at a lunch for women in Hollywood (Hayek’s position: reject victimhood; Williams’s position: for certain women—black and trans women in particular—“it’s not so simple”).“Race affects everything that I do, and everything that I create speaks to intersectionality,” Williams explains when I ask whether the film’s handling of interracial dating connects to the point she was trying to make at Sundance. Have there been moments since then when you’ve felt pangs of: I wish I could get back into the satirical news game?
There’s Jessica herself: passionate, slightly clueless, unflappable in the face of rejection, so much so that her abundance of self-esteem can seem at times like millennial self-delusion or even clinical narcissism. I think when you’re a tall girl, you feel a little bit like an outcast. So I did feel a little alone in that situation, but as soon as I was out of it, there was a lot of love. When we meet her, she is smarting from a string of professional and personal disappointments (when she’s not fantasizing about outlandish ways her recent ex-boyfriend might drop dead, she’s papering the walls of her deep-outer-borough apartment with rejection letters from every major theater company in the Western world). It’s always some 5-[foot]-10-ass dude, trying to stand butt to butt with you, trying to see who’s taller. In this film you play a character who manages, no matter what, to put a happy face on disappointment. That’s not a sore subject and it was not a disappointment. Before, I would have compartmentalized everything in a box, just pushed it away, not thought about it, then have it fester for a long time until it finally breaks out of me in a nonhealthy way. There’s cameras and a man holding a boom mike who’s ready to go home. Then Jessica’s friend Tasha (Noël Wells) sets her up with Boone (Chris O’Dowd), a slightly older app developer who is himself reeling from a divorce. The thing that annoys me as a tall woman: Sometimes I’ll be out somewhere and guys who are just around 6 feet are like, “How tall are you? It’s like, okay, alright, I’m the physical incarnation of your failures. So I was really excited to play her for that specific reason. But I have, however, had a lot of rejection in this industry. I think now I’m trying to acknowledge whatever my disappointments are, why I’m sad, either go talk to my therapist or go work out or something, try to figure out why it didn’t work. I’m not somebody who even likes to hold hands in public. Just the idea of doing a scene like that in front of a bunch of crew. But their most visible difference—she’s black, he’s white—is never even mentioned in passing. But in this story, it’s relevant and also premiered at Sundance, so the film was long in the can by the time its star made headlines at the festival, first for delivering a rousing speech at the Park City Women’s March (“Williams is my last name, but it is not my real name. I only think of that when I come across people I used to work with, because I miss them. Race certainly crops up: “Look at me,” Jessica says at one point.