HomeStreamingJessica Williams Celebrates ‘Shrinking’ Emmy Nominations at WGA Strike – IndieWire
Jessica Williams Celebrates ‘Shrinking’ Emmy Nominations at WGA Strike – IndieWire
July 13, 2023
He’s on the phone with Jessica Williams the morning she earned her first Emmy nomination, car horns blaring in the background, the conversation pausing for well-wishers approaching on the street. “I picketed you. This is what happens,” the “Shrinking” star told IndieWire. “We’re on the line, baby!”
Gaby, an enthusiastic therapist who works with Jimmy (Jason Segel) in a practice run by Paul (Harrison Ford), was named one of four black women nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress by “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” alumna. in the comedy series category – the most every year in the acting category.
Below, Williams talks about what it’s like to be part of a historic group of nominees, the best parts of her role as Gaby on Shrinking, how it relates to her work on Love Life Season 2, and what makes her former boss and now Apple TV+ star still the Favorite of the Television Academy.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
IndieWire: Congratulations! How does it feel to be nominated for the first time? And now I also saw that this year’s result is the most black women nominated in an acting category.
Jessica Williams: Really? God, I didn’t know that. You tell me that. This is great. It’s an honor, honestly. I’m in great company. I am literally obsessed with everyone who has been nominated and feel very lucky. I love Gaby. I feel very lucky to play him. The great thing about it is that I really get to breathe with it and let it become its own thing. And it was truly an amazing opportunity. I am very grateful for that to (creators) Brett Goldstein, Bill Lawrence, and Jason Segel. They trusted me a lot.
How did you know you were nominated? Did you watch the live stream?
Oh, not at all. I was not listening. My best friend came up from Long Beach last night and we went to a few bars. My plan was to sleep through everything, and of course I got up at 8 in the morning and started at 8:30, so I was just a kid and I said, “Please, no one has a phone, everyone put away their laptop. don’t look for it. We’re not watching.” So we just sat in the living room in silence, not talking. Then my publicist called me and it was so funny, I just started screaming.
How did it feel to land at “Shrinking” after the track? After appearing on ‘The Daily Show’, we’ve seen everything from hosting ‘2 Dope Queens’ to movies, limited series, etc.
Yes, it happened near my house. I live very close to where we filmed it and it was great. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It felt like my first LA 9 to 5 job and then on set I felt very supported and loved. Everyone was just working to figure out what Shrinking was and who these characters were in relation to each other. So he was very cooperative. It was unbelievable.
Before we expand on that, one of my previous jobs that I wanted to ask about was, did you feel at all that “Love Life” Season 2 opened the door for you?
Totally. I think one of the reasons I got Gaby was because I did ‘Love Life’ season 2. I think a lot of EPs have seen it. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever done. I miss this show. I love that show. I wish it was on. “Love Life” was really amazing for that, and I definitely think that’s why I got that because I had that kind of work at the time. I got to work with William Jackson Harper, who is a fucking amazing actor, and I got to play Mia Hines, who was also a very complicated and funny person. So that helped me show what I could do, especially coming from a “Daily Show” background. And the 2 Dope Queens podcast and live show, that’s the background. So that really opened things up for me. I am so thankful for this show.
Has it dawned on you that this season has really developed this cult following?
Oh, no, no. It means a lot, yes. I try not to google anything, but I love it. I just love that show (laughs). It was very good and sweet. And I’m really sad it’s not on anymore.
But what a special season it was. Back to “Shrinking,” what can we expect from Season 2? We saw that Gaby was such a good friend to everyone in the first season, but a lot happened to her during the season. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on losing your best friend during a divorce.
Before the strike, I got to go into the writer’s room and see what they were kicking, and we definitely get to know these characters and Gaby because she lost her best friend. This is a really big loss. And so we’re definitely going to get more into that. I guess that’s all I can say, but what I’m most excited about is that now we really understand the dynamics between all the characters. So we’re doing it again and doubling it even more.
Are people alienated from Jimmy and Gaby’s relationship? Have you ever seen a discourse about it?
I can’t Google it myself, I don’t see any feedback. This is too depressing. I can not hear. I just want to go home and play The Sims on my computer (laughs). I like my work mostly with the feedback and stuff, but I also try to live a very balanced life and not let my work become my life. So I’m very sensitive to it.
How was it working with Harrison Ford in this moment where he really gets resurrected?
So good. I really like Harrison Ford. He’s such a good scene partner, I’m obsessed. Gaby and Paul’s relationship – I’m biased because I’m in it – but it’s one of my favorite relationships on the show. I don’t think you have many chances of a black woman talking to Harrison Ford the way Gaby does (laughs). So I think they have a really nice relationship, and one of my favorite scenes is when he comes over for her at the end of the season and shows up for the job interview.
I know you said you were unsure about the feedback, but have you heard from other black female therapists about your portrayal on the show?
No, but I think it’s a very good conversation Black Lady therapist trope. I do not have. I mainly only talk to my therapist, who I keep in touch with. But I think the way to kill and subvert any trope is to attack it specifically. Be as specific as possible to avoid this.
Do you know if your therapist has watched your show?
He tries. He doesn’t let me know personally, because there is this limit that ethically has to be, but I definitely think so.
The last thing I wanted was to see some changes in the Outstanding Talk Series category, but since 2003, either “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or an alumni-hosted series has won the Emmy, and now Jon, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert are back in it. Why do you think “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” feels so big and remains so resonant?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Jon Stewart. And it’s cool, I’m on the line and I see one of the head writers of “The Daily Show” that I’ve known for a long time, and another really amazing writer, and one of my on-site producers that I’m with, so it’s like family, this huge, huge family. But what was amazing about “The Daily Show” is that they give people vegetables, but they think it’s dessert. There’s always been power in satire, people compulsively reacting to their situations with comedy. It’s really strong. And Jon – I love all the co-correspondents and everything. I am biased because I was one of them. But he really hired some amazing writers, field producers and reporters. We all need to branch out and flourish. Very, very, very cool. And one of my favorite things is that he actually did it nice tweet what i saw was i think he was watching the movie “shrinking” and he just tweeted that he thought i was amazing and i cried when i read that.
This is so sweet.
Yes, this is my first big boss. It was awesome.
You’d say something like “All the Talk Series nominees are my deserving friends” or it’s a “Dance with whoever brought you” situation.
Oh, that’s really funny. I mean, I don’t know. so-
I’m sure Apple would like to know.
I know well? For example, “What did you say?” Yes, I definitely watched “The Problem”. I just love that guy. He is the best.