Many of the actresses I interview tell me they wanted to be on stage or in front of the camera from a very early age. Not so with Kaylee Williams, who didn’t set foot on stage for the first time until she was in high school, and that was only after the persistent urging of some friends to get her to audition for a school play. However, once she was on stage, Kaylee said she felt like she belonged there and discovered her unexpected passion.
A native of the Chicago suburbs, Kaylee did theater for a few years before she began doing films. She started modeling around the same time she got into films, but said she’s never wanted to be a model or considered herself one. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, I’m sure the photographers she’s worked with would differ with that and definitely consider Kaylee a model, as well as an actress.
Kaylee was brought to my attention by my good friend Carlo Rodriguez over at Underdogs.com (The best in underground movies!) Impressed after seeing her portfolios and list of film credits that include Slices of Life, Cut, and Zombie Babies, I contacted Kaylee about an interview, hoping to add her to the elite group of girls who’ve been featured here. Thankfully, she’s now one of those girls. (Above photo by Peter Matthes)
CHRIS CHARLES: Another interviewer said you had acting qualities similar to Meg Tilly and Renee Zellweger. Was that the first time you heard that and would you say it was an accurate assessment?
KAYLEE WILLIAMS: That was in fact the first time that I heard that and I was beyond flattered with the comparison to such talented actresses! I’m not very familiar with Meg Tilly’s work but I do know who she is. And I’ve seen a lot of Renee Zellweger’s work so I’m very familiar with her abilities. I think the comparison with these actresses to myself is that we have this very quiet, introverted personality in real life but when you put a movie camera on us, we come to life. I think that is a very accurate assessment. I’m definitely the quiet, shy type in my day to day life, but I feel like my true personality really comes out when I’m on set. That’s one of the things that I love so much about acting is that I feel more comfortable and more myself when I’m on camera or on stage.
CHRIS: You’ve said you feel honored to be considered a Scream Queen. Did any Scream Queen icons from the earlier days of low budget horror inspire you?
KAYLEE: I’ve never really called myself a Scream Queen. When I talk about the type of acting that I do, I tend to refer to myself as a horror actress. Others in the industry have used the term Scream Queen to describe me, since I work primarily in the horror genre and have for several years now. The first website to ever refer to me as a Scream Queen was the French website Cinema Fantastique back in November 2009. I do feel honored to be considered a Scream Queen by so many people, but I feel like that word gets tossed around way too easily these days. I see a lot of pretty girls, who just so happen to be a fan of the horror genre, call themselves Scream Queens, even though they’ve never been in a horror film in their entire lives. Which, to me, is absolutely ridiculous. I feel like a lot of younger people don’t really understand the definition of a Scream Queen. I also see actresses that do one horror film and next thing I know they’re calling themselves Scream Queens because they did one movie. It’s kind of frustrating, which is why I don’t even refer to myself as a Scream Queen. I feel like it should take many many years of working in the horror genre, establishing a fan base, and really paying your dues as a Horror actress to be able to honestly refer to yourself as a Scream Queen.
As for some of my favorite Scream Queens, I have to give shout outs to actresses like Debbie Rochon, Linnea Quigley and Debra Lamb. All of whom are going to be appearing in Disciples, a film that I will be working on in November. I’m beyond excited to be in a film with these three women, as well as all the other amazingly talented folks attached to this project.
CHRIS: I interviewed Debra Lamb several months ago and I’m sure it will be a pleasure for you to work with her. So, who have been some of your favorite people to work with, on either side of the camera?
KAYLEE: Ohhh, I hate these kinds of questions because there are just so many people that I have loved working with over the years and I know that it’s impossible to give every one of those people a shout out. I always feel bad because I can’t name everyone. I will say that one of my favorite groups of people ever assembled for a film has got to be the entire cast and crew of Mediatrix. I can’t express how much I adore all these talented, awesome people. My scene partners in Cut (Larry Laverty, Frederic Doss, and Michael J. Schaeffer) were all wonderful to work with. The Razor Sharp Studios folks (who I worked with on Zombie Babies and Porkchops) are a great group of people out in West Virginia.
The Citizen in the Temple cast and crew out here in Chicago were all amazing. I’ve worked with the hard working and talented Marv Blauvelt twice so far (Slices of Life and Poetic) and will be teaming up with him again in God’s Right Hand. I always enjoy teaming up with Theophilus Jamal (Smashed!), who is just a really great guy. When it comes to filmmakers, some of the ones that I would do anything for because I have so much respect for them and I adore working with them would be Joe Hollow (Cut, Disciples), Cory J Udler (Mediatrix) and Eamon Hardiman (Zombie Babies, Porkchops). The rest of you that I love and adore. You know who you are.
CHRIS: I won’t ask for names, unless of course you want to give them, but are there any people on either side of the camera, who you’d never work with again?
KAYLEE: Oh, absolutely! I won’t name names but there have definitely been some extremely unprofessional people that I have had the displeasure of working with that I won’t be working with ever again. Fortunately though, I can honestly say that the number of people that I’ve worked with that have been amazing far outnumber the unprofessional ones.
CHRIS: You’ve taken stunt classes, so have you always done most of your own stunt work?
KAYLEE: I started taking stunt classes so that I would be able to safely do my own stunts in the films that I do. I unfortunately haven’t yet had the opportunity to work on a big action film so the extent of my stunt work in films so far has been some rolls, falls and fights. But I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a fun action role so I can put my skills to good use! I’d love to play an action role similar to Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) or the two main females in the TV show Nikita, or even a role like Christian Kane’s in the TV show Leverage. These are roles where the actors get to do a lot of fight scenes and that’s what my main interest is.
CHRIS: Ever had had any injuries performing a scene?
KAYLEE: The only injury I’ve ever gotten was during a practice fight at class. Basically, what we do is we partner up with one or two people in class, choreograph a fight together and then perform it for the class, where we get critiqued on our choreography and execution. Sometimes we do the fight 3 times in a row, so we can practice continuity and hitting our marks each and every time. Well at the end of that particular fight I was supposed to be thrown forward head first and do a forward flip to land on my back. The first time I did it correctly. The second time I tripped over my own feet and ended up throwing myself head first into the floor. I didn’t end up performing the fight a third time. I got a pretty unpleasant concussion from that.
Fortunately we practice in a gym, so my head hit a soft squishy floor. If we had been doing that fight on an actual set, on the pavement or something, I would have cracked my head open. I haven’t made the mistake of throwing myself head first into the floor since that experience (laughs). There’s actually a video of that on Youtube somewhere I believe. We videotape our fights so that we can see how it looks on camera and one of my classmates put it online and for some reason every time I watch it I laugh my butt off (laughs). It shouldn’t be funny, but it is.
CHRIS: Any plans to get into heavy stunt work like falls, fire, or stunt driving in the future?
KAYLEE: No, I plan to leave that up to the professionals. My interest in stunt work is mainly fighting/combat, so that’s what I would like to continue focusing on. I’ll leave the high falls, fire gags, and driving stuff to the pros.
CHRIS: Even been a stunt double for someone else?
KAYLEE: I’ve never been anyone’s stunt double, but I think it would be a fun experience! I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if I got offered.
CHRIS: You said your role in Slices of Life was sort of a breakthrough for you and got you noticed by other in the independent horror film industry. Now that you’ve become more established as a actress and great screamer, are you able to be more choosy about roles you accept?
KAYLEE: I have indeed been able to be more picky this past year or so about what types of roles I accept. At this point, I have to try and do what’s best for my career. Honestly though, I’ve been very lucky that the majority of roles that I’m being offered are roles that I’m very interested in. I’ve been given the opportunity to take on a wide variety of different roles this past year and I’m enjoying playing so many different types of characters. The main reason I turn down roles these days is if there is a schedule conflict or if there is no payment. I can’t work for free anymore, so even if it’s a great project I will most likely have to turn it down if there is no pay. I’ve been living solely off my acting career for 3 years now and I’ve got bills to pay! (laughs) I will also occasionally turn down a role if there is no substance to the character. I want to play interesting characters that have layers and depth to them.
CHRIS: So, you don’t have a “day job” that most indie actress have to have to help pay the bills?
KAYLEE: Well, like I said, I’ve actually been living solely off my acting career for about three years now, so right now, I don’t. Unfortunately, I’ve pretty much run out of money. While I am making some money doing films and photo shoots, my bills are costing more than what I’m making. So I’m now in the process of searching for a day job so that I can work throughout the winter and try to save up as much money as I can. Winter is the time of year when the least amount of films are shot, and so far I don’t have anything lined up for the winter. I’m shooting my last project of the year in late November and then I don’t start working on my next film until the spring. That leaves me with several months where I have nothing going on, so I’m filling out as many job applications as I can and keeping my fingers crossed!
CHRIS: As someone who was in the military, I was very impressed to learn that you donate to some charitable organizations including the USO and The Heart Of A Marine Foundation. I assume you have family who are in or have been in the service?
KAYLEE: I love giving back to the community in whatever way I can. And yes, I do have family members that have been in the military. My brother was a Marine and both my grandfathers were in the military.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that you don’t include on any of your bios?
KAYLEE: Hmm, that’s a good question! I think if I were to read through all of the interviews that I’ve done over the years, I’d probably find that I’ve mentioned most, if not all, of the main hobbies and interests that I have. Wait, I may have thought of something! I can’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned this in another interview but I’m a hockey fan. I love love LOVE going to hockey games. I’m a loyal Blackhawks and Wolves (AHL) fan. It’s the only sport you’ll ever catch me watching. Every other sport bores me to tears but I really enjoy hockey for some reason.
CHRIS: When this interview is published, Halloween will be past, but as we speak, it’s drawing near, so where will you be found?
KAYLEE: You know what? This is my absolute FAVORITE time of year and so far I don’t have anything planned! If I don’t end up finding something better to do, maybe I’ll go trick or treating (laughs). I DO love taking free candy from strangers (gives a naughty smile).
CHRIS: Well, it’s been great of you to do this, Kaylee. Any shout-outs to anyone or upcoming events you’d like to mention?
KAYLEE: Thank you so much for the interview! As for any upcoming events, I’m currently looking into making appearances at two upcoming horror conventions; one in November and one in December, but I haven’t locked down the details for those yet so I don’t want to make any official announcements just yet. Keep your eyes on my Facebook page, because that will be where I would make any announcements about upcoming convention appearances/signings/premieres/screenings/etc.!
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question and you can be completely honest: Am I the most handsome man who’s ever interviewed you? KAYLEE: Haha, well I have to say that I’ve been interviewed by many lovely and attractive folks and of course I will add you to that list! Thanks again for your interest in me and my work and for the great interview!
Kaylee said there were some interesting props on the set of Smashed!
As Myra, clutching one of the flesh-covered sketchbooks in Slices of Life (2010)
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.