NBC’s television reboot of “The Wiz Live” has found itself a new star and she’s a breath of fresh air.

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Wednesday, August 5th, NBC revealed that newcomer Shanice Williams will be taking on the leading role of Dorothy in “The Wiz Live.” Williams will be playing alongside such talents as Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Stephanie Mills, Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley. Adapted from the original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum and based on the musical turned movie, “The Wiz Live” will air December 3rd. We were able to get an exclusive interview with 19-year-old Shanice Williams and hear her thoughts about this life-changing experience.


Did you also find out the morning it was announced or have you known for a while that you’re playing the new Dorothy?

Actually, I found out about two weeks ago.


Was it hard keeping it a secret?

I felt like it was harder than the audition. It was so hard just because everyone knew I was in the audition process and they were asking me everyday like, ‘what now?! what now?!’


How did you react when you found out the good news?

At first, I was shocked; that was my first reaction. I was like, ‘is this real?’ After that I felt so grateful.


How did you find out about auditions, how did you prepare for the role?

I was at school and I was like ‘OK I’m coming home for the summer and I need to have something to do because my mom’s not gonna let me sit on the couch.’ I looked up auditions and this came up and I was like ‘this is huge, super huge,’ so I’m not gonna go into this like ‘please I want the part.’ I’ve never had any New York audition experience and I wanted learn the process and that’s how it started.


At such a young age, do you feel a little pressure having taken on a role that talents such as Diana Ross have had before you?

Of course there’s pressure even when you’re doing anything, even when I did high school shows, especially having such a big role. I know I’m only 19, but I feel like I’ve waited forever for this opportunity and now that it’s here I’m not gonna let the pressure or the nerves get the best of me. I’m so excited and I’m ready to give it 110% and have fun because it’s my first job.


You’re going to be playing alongside some incredible talent? Have you had a chance to interact with either Queen Latifah or Mary J. Blige?

I’ve never met any of them, but I am of course a fan. I went to Lincoln Center and watched all these original broadway shows that are off-broadway; I saw Stephanie Mills in that and listen to her music. I’m excited to learn from all of them because they’re so serious and they could teach me a lot.


You’re experience has predominantly been in theater, are you excited to transition to television?

Yes! When I auditioned for this I was like, ‘this is cool because I’ve always done stage, but I feel like this is a stage thing because it’s going off the original broadway show.’ I feel like I’ll be comfortable because I’m used to a live audience.


After “The Wiz Live” do you see yourself heading to Broadway or working in film?

I like film and I like Broadway; I just love performing, so whatever God has for me I’ll be happy to just try it and see what happens because no matter what, if I’m performing I’ll be happy.


Do you have any advice you want to give to other young actresses on how to land their dream roles?

I would tell them, if you wanna do something no matter how crazy it seems, no matter what people tell you, no matter how much you think you’re not right for this part or it’s not your time, just go and try it and if it doesn’t work out the first time, just try again and never give up and keep trying.

-Nishat Baig

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