Rising actress Renika Williams has proven to be one-to-watch in Hollywood. The rising star currently plays the breakout role of ‘Willow’ in the Mindy Kaling directed HBO Max hit comedy-drama series “The Sex Lives Of College Girls”. Renika brings her charismatic charm to the hilarious, soccer-loving character whose best friends with ‘Whitney’ (played by Alyah Chanelle Scott). After receiving high praise from fans and critics alike for the first season of the series, the show quickly started up production for a second season. Season 2 will begin streaming on HBO Max this November 2022, with exciting storyline developments for Renika’s character (who is also in the LGBTQ+ community) and deepened friendships within each episode!
Renika’s acting journey began in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, where she received a BFA in Acting from Wright State University. As an avid theater lover, Renika is no stranger to the theatre and has been in regional productions at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Repertory Theatre, The Arden Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Cincinnati Shakespeare company. She got her start with theatre productions for her college playing Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Myrtle May Simmons in “Harvey.” Since then, she has been cast in theatre productions such as “All the Natalie Portmans,” “The Climb,” and “Sweet”. Renika has since made the transition from on-stage to on-screen roles, but will always have a soft spot for the theater.
Acting aside, Renika enjoys cycling, yoga, reading, and watching YouTube videos about black-owned hair product businesses. She loves watching Grey’s Anatomy with her miniature Dachshund. She is also passionate about getting involved with philanthropy work for Sickle Cell Anemia awareness.
Hi Renika, welcome to OLC! How did you begin your journey in acting and what drew you to it?
I’m a storyteller at my core. I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. Writing and performing has always been the way I express myself. I’m from Dayton, OH and I started doing theatre when I was 12 years old. I auditioned for the arts magnet school in my hometown when I was in the 6th grade. When I was accepted, that was the first time I had ever taken an acting class and I really fell in love with the craft. I knew at that young age, I wanted to pursue it as a career.
How did you land the role on ‘The Sex Lives Of College Girls’ and talk to me about the auditioning process for your character “Willow”?
The audition for Willow came to my email just like every other audition. I did the self-tape in my room with my big cousin on the phone as my reader. We did it twice and that was it. She asked, “do you want to do it a few more times? You normally do a few takes.” I said” Nah, I thought that was funny. I can’t be any funnier.” My manager sent it in and a week later, I got a call back. Then after the callback, I had a chemistry read with the lovely, Alyah Chanelle Scott, who plays Whitney Chase, and then I booked it! The writing was so great, it was easy to prepare for all of the scenes they gave me. Great writing makes an actor’s job easier!
Did you have any experience playing soccer prior going into this role?
Absolutely not! But thankfully, the producers provided Alyah and I with private coaching sessions a couple times a week during the filming of season one. It was really hard for me at first because I never played but eventually, I started to get the hang of it and actually enjoy it!
What is it like working on a show created by the great Mindy Kaling? And what has been your most memorable moment so far?
Being a part of what I call “The Mindy Mafia” has been amazing. I’ve always been inspired by her as an actress, writer, producer, and leader and it is definitely a huge blessing to work with her. There were a few weeks during season two filming when I was really homesick and I reached out to Mindy. She replied with a sweet and understanding message that included some fun places to explore in Los Angeles that really helped her find her happy space when she was homesick when first moving there. I was really moved that she went the extra mile to help support me at that moment.
You’re very passionate about a lot of things, one of which I read is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, what do you love about Grey’s and would you love to be part of the show?
It is literally one of my life goals to work on Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s has made such an impact on television history! The work they do is relevant and impactful; it will make you laugh and cry. And all of the characters leave a mark on you over the years. I definitely advise anyone who hasn’t seen Grey’s Anatomy to watch it on Netflix and catch up!
You are also very involved with Sickle Cell Anemia awareness, tell me about the work you do with them?
Unfortunately, one of my best friends passed away from complications related to Sickle Cell Anemia and it was one of the toughest chapters in my life thus far. Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic disease that many people, including some medical physicians, don’t know much about because primarily affects African Americans. I believe if more people learned about Sickle Cell, there could be a push for further advancements in medications, medical care, helpful tips on how to healthfully live with the disease, and many even a cure. No one should have to lose a loved one to Sickle Cell Anemia.
What upcoming projects do you have in the works you can tell us about?
You can catch me on NBC’s NEW AMSTERDAM season 5 episode 9 “The Empty Spaces”! New Amsterdam is a great show with an important message, so grateful I got to be a part of the legacy before it came to a close.
What are your plans for Christmas and New Years Eve?
Planning on spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family!
Renika Williams Social Media:
The Sex Lives Of College Girls:
*Season 2 of The Sex Life of College Girls premiered on November 17, 2022 on HBO Max