Why We're Obsessed With Allison Williams's Anti-Stress Routine
Though beloved by many, Allison Williams isn't exactly known for portraying crowd pleasing roles. Perhaps you know her as the notoriously self-centered Marnie from HBO's Girls or the down right evil villain named Rose in Jordan Peele's brilliant film Get Out. But off-screen, Williams couldn't be more genuinely amiable and thoughtful (which is a testament to her talent as an actor). After juggling a crazy busy work schedule for over 6 years, she's currently using her celebrity to raise money and awareness in an effort to bridge the education gap. Specifically, she leading an initiative with Horizons National that gives children in low-income areas access to summer enrichment programs.
It's called 10 Days of Giving, and you donate to Horizons, and she sends you her self-curated products as a thank you. If you'd like to know more, then you're in the right place. We spoke with Williams to learn more about the program and how those patterns of inequality become relevant on-screen, too. To find out more about which brands she partnered with and what kind of work Horizons does, read through Williams's explanation below. And since we're also always on the lookout for career advice and insight from stylish, intelligent, and successful women here at MyDomaine, we couldn't help but ask Williams for her best stress-management techniques and the most pivotal learning moments of her acting career. Get ready to take notes as you scroll.
Unpacking Health and Nutrition Inequality
While the emphasis of Williams's campaign with Horizons is to bridge the educational gap, she also spoke about the multitude of ways in which these issues arise in other facets of life, like health and nutrition. When she asked if she had any affordable cooking tips or recipes to share for anyone who's on a budget but still wants to prioritise healthy eating, she joked, "I'm not a parent and I cannot cook anything at all, healthy or not." She did, however, have some insight into the systemic issues facing low-income households.
"But I do think one of the biggest problems that a lot of kids don’t have access to healthy food year round because it can be so expensive and some of them live in these so-called food desert areas," she shared. If you're not familiar with the term, food deserts are regions with a lack of healthy food options like farmers markets and grocery stores. These regions are almost always found in impoverished areas, putting inhabitants in the areas at higher risks for certain heart diseases and diabetes.
"It’s a really big problem in cities, too. Especially with the kids that we cater to, a lot of times it’s a single parent or two working parents and there just isn’t a lot of time for anything, let alone driving a long distance to shop for perishable organic vegetable and fruit, which are expensive...It becomes a balance of priorities that we really shouldn’t be asking anyone to make." That's why one of Horizon's main goals is to give kids access to healthier eating options throughout the day.
As Williams explains, "it really helps to be able to have a full belly and be ready to learn during the day and provide kids with the energy they need. And sometimes they come from an environment where that isn’t a given." We also spoke about the potential of community gardens a way to make healthy fruits and veggies for accessible in urban spaces. "I think doing things like gardening with your kids...is such a great activity," she says. "It can teach kids about nutrition but it also is just such a meditative, calming, nice collaborative thing to do with your child. And it takes patience, tending, nurturing" and understanding biology.
Her Mindful Mindlessness Approach
Though she's never taken a Meyers-Briggs personality test, Williams thinks of herself as an extroverted introvert, meaning that she has qualities across the spectrum. Over the years, she's realised that this means, "to recharge [her] batteries, alone time is super important." Since she has a hectic work schedule, getting a ton of down time isn't always possible, but sometimes a short calming routine is all it takes. "I’ve tried to start building a little time by myself to just collect my thoughts and breathe and be alone on busier days."
Her go-to activities while she's alone? She likes to listen to podcasts while playing solitaire. "I find it really soothing since most of the podcasts I listen to are about things that have nothing to do with me, so it’s the perfect way to get out of my own head and into someone else’s reality and experience. And the solitaire is kind of mindless and mindful in the same way. For some reason that seems to be a magical combination for me," Williams shares.
Stylish Footwear That Gives Back
Part of Williams's campaign with Horizon's is about giving away awesome products to the donors, so we decided to ask her about why she chose brand partnerships. And characteristic of Williams, there's clearly a lot of thought behind each partnership. Though she likes to "keep the products themselves a secret until they launch," she has already launched one product with Keds. "I worked with Keds company because I love their slogan, 'ladies first,'" said Williams.
Unpacking that idea further, so goes on to explain why sneakers, and Keds more specifically, send the right message to young girls. "I think especially as girls are growing up, it’s so nice to have a way like that that isn’t going to break the bank but will allow them to feel expressive and unique in their feet, in their shoes, as they’re trying to find out what their vibe is."
She's also including a wide range of products to make sure that a broad spectrum of people on different budgets can give as much as they're able to. "It's important to me that we offer a range of prices because I know that not everyone can afford to make a big donation to Horizon’s. However, for the people who can afford it, I tried to include a couple things just so that, you know, we can increase the amount of money we’re raising for the kids. I’m very Robin Hood about it. I will happily take people’s money because they have too much," she joked.
Surprising Lessons Learned From a Villian
While we had Williams's, we had to ask her about her role in the highly successful film. First of all, it was the first movie character she took after finishing season 7 of Girls. "How do you prepare for a role that’s as evil, and presumably very different from you, and have you been able to learn any rewarding lessons from her despite that," we asked before quickly clarifying that we meant Rose from the horror film and contemporary race relation allegory, Get Out, and not Marnie.
"Marnie has been called a lot of things, but evil isn’t one of them [while] Rose is completely, to her core, evil." She explained that the most fascinating and difficult aspect of playing Rose was that she someone wasn't meant to have any redeeming qualities, though many audience members may try to find some.
"I think people go a long way to try to look for white victimhood in that situation. In some cases, when a woman has been victimised in a certain way, that’s totally legitimate, but I think that knee jerk response is also applied in interracial situations and is really dangerous." So rather than trying to empathise with Rose to be able to play her convincingly, she felt that her "job was to give no excuses to people to not hate Rose. And I can tell you, as one of the authorities on Rose, she has no redeeming qualities and she is to her core evil."
So how did she do it? "Just being alone somewhere creepily in a dark room listening to really dark music and not interacting with anyone really. Total isolation was important," she explained. And we can totally see Rose doing just that (remember the milk and fruit loops scene?). Williams also employed another clever technique: coloured contacts. "It helped to be able to look in the mirror and see different eyes, for reasons I can’t quite articulate. It just helped to kind of defamiliarise myself with the face I’m used to seeing in the mirror. But it was definitely unpleasant and difficult."
Despite dreading the shoot days when she had to film the scenes in which Rose was particularly sinister, racist, and violent, Williams found the challenging role worth it when "watching the final product and in hearing audiences cheer when she gets shot." she says. "I felt good about the job I did and I felt like, you know, I had done right by Jordan Peele [the director]...hopefully making all the points he wanted to make along the way."
To make a donation right now, head over to the Horizons to contribute and get a new pair of Keds sent to your home.