We’ve loved her on television since cult fave Strangers with Candy, but now the actress is making a power move into Netflix’s Fuller House.
Virginia Williams has sparkled in roles on shows from USA’s Fairly Legal to Lifetime’s Monarch Cove, but when we heard she was joining the cast of Netflix’s monster throwback phenomenon Fuller House, we couldn’t resist the chance to chat her up about what funny business awaited her by the Bay.
So how does your character end up on Fuller House?
In Fuller House Season One the main storyline is with DJ, played by Candace Cameron Bure. She’s in a love triangle between two guys, Matt and Steve, Matt being the new guy in her life and Steve being the old boyfriend from the original series. A lot of people have a nostalgic connection to Steve and are very much “Team Steve.” … So she tells the two guys at the end of Season One, “I am going to let both you guys free; I need some time to figure it out. At the start of Season Two, they come back and she’s ready to tell them who she’s chosen to be with — and they’ve both set each other up with new girlfriends.
And you’re with Steve?
I’m Steve’s new girlfriend, CJ. The comedy there is that CJ is described as “DJ 2.0.” Everything that DJ is, CJ also is. CJ also has three kids, but hers have skipped two grades. CJ is also bubbly, but she’s two inches taller.
Why do you think the show still works?
My age group, which is the 30-somethings, we grew up on Full House, and of course there is a nostalgia factor for us. We enjoyed the originals, maybe even loved the originals, maybe even spent every Friday night with our siblings and pizza in front of the TV watching. We have a deep connection to family on this show.
It’s not a format you see done as much nowadays.
I think that something happened after the ‘90s sitcom. As we went into the 2000s with shows like The Sopranos and Sex in the City, television got very polarized. There were adult TV shows and kid TV shows. The kids would go into one room and watch their shows on Nickelodeon or Disney. Their parents would go into their room. … This is the first show that I can think of that is actually not geared towards little kids; it’s actually an adult show that you can watch with your little kids … and the innuendo won’t horrify you.
You’re part of a philanthropic group, “The New Hollywood,” that helped organize the debut of a benefit this year. Can you describe how that happened?
One of [us] said, “Man it would be so cool to do a Broadway Cares benefit.” … I think in less than six months, she had fully planned, organized, and produced the first — now it’s going to be annual — Broadway Sniffs Out Cancer benefit that I was fortunate enough to sing at and be a part of — which was a dream for me as a singer who doesn’t get to perform on stage very much, working on television. Bernadette Peters hosted, and performers included Telly Leung, Megan Hilty, and Rory O’Malley: I mean, crazy huge Broadway stars! … It sold out, and raised thousands and thousands of dollars for cancer detection dogs. … [The New Hollywood] last year started an LBGT branch, which is wonderful, and a men’s group is going to start up for the first time in 2017.
You’ve been such an ally to the gay community. What does that mean to you today?
I’m Christian, and I for one feel it’s a message of acceptance and love. … That is the most important aspect of what I believe. I think that there is a lot of divisiveness right now. I suppose there always has been, but I feel like in the current political climate, things have been quite heightened. People are getting very polarized and pointing out their differences, and I just think that it’s most important that we come together and point out how we’re similar and ultimately how we want to love, bring people together, and make the world better.
Virginia Williams shares what she learned by confronting herself on a billboard — and other life lessons — as our conversation continues.
Any word on a Season Three for Fuller House?
My hope and prayer is that Season Two does as well as Season One and that Netflix gives it an immediate Season Three order. The way that Season Two ends, I am a very integral part of the storyline. I’m not sure how much I can tell you, but I just hope the writers continue to stretch the “Ross and Rachel” storyline.
I love the Friends reference!
I guess that makes me Emily. [laughs] But I’m very fortunate that I was able to do half the episodes. I mean my character doesn’t just pop in every once in awhile; it’s pretty much every other episode.
We’ve been talking about you playing a Mom, but you are also a relatively new Mom in real life, as well. How has motherhood changed you?
Oh my gosh, it’s changed me so much. My priorities are completely different. I feel like my whole life has been a rat race with my career. Every decision has been based on this first love: which is my art, my job. And while I have a profound respect and love for my career and for the craft of acting, there’s no question that it’s second fiddle to family. Now the decisions that I make about my career are very much based on how it will influence and affect my family. Certain auditions don’t appeal to me anymore. It’s gotta really be worth it to go shoot in Romania for six weeks, you know? … I love being with my son. He’s my bestie. We have so much fun together, and I just adore him. I very much want to have another child as well. I don’t foresee a Jon and Kate plus 8 situation happening, but I think two kids is hopefully in the cards for us.
It seems like you’re striking a good balance between your personal and professional life.
I think I was very fortunate pretty early on in my career, that I had a major life lesson crack me across the head, if you will. About ten years ago, I had my own series; it was called Monarch Cove. It was something I had been working towards for many years. It was the first show pilot I had ever done that was picked up [with me as first lead]. I thought it was everything I had wanted. It was an interesting storyline. It shot in Australia, which sounded very fun: I’d be moving to Australia for 6 months. … [But] it was all on my shoulders. It was my face on every billboard, every bus that went by in New York City — me doing all the interviews. I felt responsible for the show.
How did it turn out?
It ended up being a really bad experience while I was in the middle of it. It was lonely and isolating. I had such a difficult time with it, actually, that I was pretty convinced that I was going to leave the business altogether. I was only 26 or 27 at the time, and I ended up getting back here and taking a breath, and not leaving the business. The biggest thing I took away from it was that I can never let anything in my work, completely consume me. When I was working on that show, I did. I did not even have moments to call my boyfriend back home, talk to my parents, see friends, anything. I was 100 percent invested in my work, which will never bring you fulfillment and happiness the way that people and relationships will.
What happened next?
I learned another really great life lesson in that experience. I came back to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, and there was a billboard of the show — which was kind of the name of the show and my face on it — right outside of the Starbucks, which is the Starbucks that I used to go to when I first moved to LA. It’s the place where I would dream about someday having my own show. And — because it was such an uncomfortable experience — every time I drove past the billboard, it actually made me shudder and avert my eyes. One day I decided, “You know what? I’m ready. I’m going to go sit down at that Starbucks, I’m going to have a cup of coffee like I used to do, and I’m just going to look up at the billboard and just express gratitude: Just be grateful that this experience happened, and [for] what I can learn from it, and just be in a place of thanksgiving.” And I drove to the Starbucks, and I parked, and I got my cup of coffee, and I sat at the table, and I took a deep breath, and I looked up, and it was an iPod ad. [laughs] Overnight it had changed to another ad.
What did you do?!
I started hysterically laughing, and I couldn’t stop. … It was so much better than if the old billboard had been up there. You don’t get to pick and choose when to be grateful. You just need to be grateful in every moment — for whatever it is that you’re going through. It was just the best life lesson I’ve ever learned. I have to say I make a very concerted effort to be grateful in every moment for whatever it is I’m going through — even the very low lows on the roller coaster because they are definitely plentiful as well. [I try to] express gratitude and really recognize that family, friends, people, relationships always need to take precedence over career. And career fulfillment will come when the rest of your life is in balance.
Let’s talk a little bit more about philanthropy.
I’ve always found in my life that the more I give away, the more I inadvertently receive. That’s really in everything. When I give away my time, somehow I’m blessed with more time to do what I need to do. When I give away my money, somehow I’m blessed with more money. When I give away things of my skill set, somehow the areas where I’m lacking end up coming to me.
Is there a group you’d like more people to know about?
Free the Slaves: I got involved with them years ago, I just think they’re an incredible organization whose emphasis is freeing slaves and putting value on human life. I don’t know of much that has a higher cause than that. I went to Nepal and India years ago with them and was able to speak with a lot of people who had been brought out of captivity and talked to them about their communities, how to work with them and how to help them. One thing I love about Free The Slaves is they very much are in alignment with the saying: “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” They are all about empowering communities and equipping them with ways to sustain themselves.
Last modified: June 16, 2017