Actor Gregory Alan Williams has soared through Hollywood for decades. His latest project is OWN's television series Greenleaf. We spoke about his character as "Uncle Mac" on screen and the effect it had on him as a person. We also had a great conversation about his proud novel Heart of a Woman. It was recently released as an audiobook. Williams has a voice that truly intrigues his listeners. It was such a pleasure to speak with him!
Your book "Heart of a Woman" was published in 2009. It is now available as an audiobook. Could you tell us why it was important to release an audio version?
It was an opportunity for me to combine my writing and acting skills. I am narrating the book and I am the voice of all the characters. It was a challenge. There are lot of people who do not read, but they will listen. I could reach a broader audience of readers. You can listen to things on the train and the car. Technology is smarter and quicker.
Does your writing have a specific target audience?
My target audience are women and men of a certain age. I thought about the men and women of my generation, who remember Motown, Marvin Gaye, and Teddy Pendergrass. It is also for younger people who want to take a deeper glimpse into where life can take them when they make the right choices. Parts of the book can be a mirror for people. Young women with old souls have to be aware of their value in society. They have to understand the value of your beauty and how it is valued by older people. It took me four years to write this book. A lot of revision, research, writing, and perfecting went into it. I had two wonderful editors. I am excited about the audiobook, because it is its own thing.
Would you ever consider writing a movie, play, or tv show?
I am not that interested in screenplays. With novels, I don’t need anybody else. I don't need the crew, cameras, or a million dollars. I could bury myself in it. With acting, it is a partner with all kinds of people. What I love about writing novels is that I can do it in the park. I could go in Red Lobster and work on a new book. It is a private and intimate kind of pursuit.
How does it feel to play “the bad guy” on OWN’s Green Leaf?
Bad guys get a lot of attention on TV and movies. When you are playing the kind of bad guy who is really out there hurting people, it's not a lot of fun. It can be a challenge and you have to commit to it. It can weigh you down, because you have to be part of that darkness and play him true. Playing Uncle Mac true, means really wading into the dark places. I thought I was leaving all of him on the set, but I found out I was not. He is very dark, lonely, and sad. I was carrying some of that sadness with me. Anybody who serially hurts people and has to cover it up, lives a sad life. Some of that sadness stayed with me. Oprah put a video on Youtube about the "Mac" character, featuring a conversation with me. The conversation happened a few days after I realized the character was going to die. I was relieved, because I could finally talk about Mac and how playing him made me feel. Greenleaf brought back memories for people. I read comments on Facebook and I could tell who those people were. "Lord thank you for what You’ve given and thank you for what You’ve taken away.” At the end of Greenleaf's first season, I was able to do a movie called, A Question of Faith. I play a character full of life. I've been running around with the producers promoting this moving that is uplifting. That is the grace I've been given.