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An Interview with Cynthia Kaye McWilliams

Today we are excited to chat with Cynthia Kaye McWilliams.  As a young child, Cynthia always knew she wanted to be an actress as she grew a fond love for theatre and poetry while working in a library. Growing up in a small-minded town, Cynthia immersed herself into a whole other world with the art of theatre; she later graduated from the prestige school of theatre at DePaul University. After her first role in Warner Brothers Film, The Lake House, she landed many other parts such as shows Coyote, Real Husbands of Hollywood, Prison Break, Nashville, and many more. Cynthia’s multi-talents in the acting world have led her to a voiceover career and roles in the theatre arts. On or off the screen, Cynthia has a strong bond with all things acting.

With her new project, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, releasing on March 11th, 2022, we take some time to hear more from Cynthia. Please read below to hear about Cynthia’s upbringing, journey, and what’s to come from the talented artist!

When you were little, traveling from place to place, did you know that you always wanted to pursue acting?

My mother always said that I didn’t choose acting, but it chose me. When I was nine years old I worked at a library and I discovered the poetry and theatre section. I started reading plays and poems and could just imagine the people come to life.  So, that’s what I started doing, I started to read plays to the kids, I wrote plays for the theatre, I took classes all throughout school. When high school did not offer theatre classes because there were not a lot of roles for young black women at the time, I created a black theatre program. Just in general, I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I found the opportunities, resources, and the people in the acting community. Eventually, all those little childhood dreams came true.

You graduated from the prestigious Theatre School of DePaul University in Chicago. How was the change from school to landing your first supporting role in Warner Brothers’ The Lake House?

It wasn’t a change that I was expecting, but definitely something I wanted to do.   The Warner Brothers film just came onto my lap, I was young and willing to take any opportunity.  As I look back, I wish I handled that a little bit differently because I do love the theatre and have a great respect for that community.  At the time, I was so young, I did not realize that those opportunities were as valuable. So, yes, the adjustment was a shock, all my life I was supposed to be in theatre and then suddenly movies and television happened like that, just so fast.

Jumping from comedy show, Real Husbands of Hollywood to drama, The last Days of Ptolemy Grey. How was the transition into playing such different roles?

The first most important rule for me is getting down with the script, getting to know this character and start to fall in love with them. Learning how to make that connection with the character to myself, we meet each other in the middle. It’s my favorite part.  Whether it’s comedy or drama, that’s my process.  I really enjoy the freedom of how acting allows me to create.

You also pursue a voiceover career, voicing for Cartoon Network, animated feature film, Bilal, and several video games. How did your voice acting career come about?

I had no idea that I was going to pursue a voiceover career!  My professor in college told me that it was not for me.  She said, “you have entirely too much throat”.  Well, suddenly, the industry changed and looked for more natural voices, and wanted to hear people that sounded familiar to them.  So, I am so grateful that my professor told me I couldn’t do it, because whenever anybody tells me I can’t do something, well, I’ll show you!

What motivates you and your acting career?

What motivates me is something so simple, I love it! I love everything about film, acting, and performing.  It is the thing as a young girl that allowed me to find my voice, in a smaller town with not a lot of vision and dreams and a place that racism was still very rampant.  Acting was the way for me to speak, find truth, have power, and to find my own identity.

What is your favorite memory from your acting career?

When I was in college, I did a play called A Lesson Before Dying, that spoke to me.  It was the first time that I had a role where the story of a woman of color was valid enough to be written. I didn’t have to step outside of myself to be considered a voice, it changed a level of agency in me as an artist.  It made me realize, that plays like that exist, it was inspiring.

How are you feeling about your latest show, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey releasing on March 11th, 2022?

I’m feeling excited to be part of such an awesome project and to be involved with such amazing artists. Whenever, I drive down LA streets, I can’t help but to think “wow I live in LA”. I am humbled and grateful everyday. 

In your free time, you enjoy traveling.  Where is your favorite place to travel to and where is next on your bucket list?

I absolutely fell in love with Barcelona, the culture, the food, and the nightlife. I came back from that trip and I wanted to learn Spanish so badly, so that’s what I did, I got a tutor and learned Spanish.  Spanish culture has a special place in my heart.  Of course, for the future, I want to go see the Northern Lights.

What advice do you have for others that want to pursue acting?

I have the same advice for those who want to purse acting as those who want to pursue anything; make sure it’s what you really want.  Pursue things that are for the joy and satisfaction. Make sure you’re doing something that you want to do and not what others want you to do.

Thank You Cynthia!  See what’s next to come on Cynthia’s Instagram page!


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Image provided by Cynthia Kaye McWilliams

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