Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning
Hollywood is not a place for the faint of heart, weak of will, or those without the drive to be the best. Indeed the entertainment industry is a revolving door of singers, dancers, actors, and other entertainers who seem to be here one minute and gone the next. In a time when being the newest “flavor of the week” is how most “stars” prove their moxie; it’s refreshing and rare to find someone in the industry who has truly managed to remain relevant, and more importantly true to herself. That is who Malinda Williams is. Having started her career from childhood, for nearly thirty years, this amazing actress has entertained us through dozens of movies, television shows, and now expands her brand into the field of beauty! “I’ve been in the acting game a long time—several decades! I started this when I was ten years old. I started out as a model, a child model, and from there and then just naturally transitioned from television to film work…so it’s definitely been over thirty years…”
Longevity and relevance are the recurring themes of Malinda’s career. Whereas many of her colleagues and compatriots have fallen to obscurity or disappeared altogether, she is still front row and center, basking in the limelight. Naturally, she knows better than anyone what it has taken to hold steadfast in an industry that is nothing short of brutal. “Well I have to start with God first; and I believe that this is something that I was meant to do. This was my purpose, this is my purpose; and when you are living in your true purpose there is almost nothing you can do to mess it up! So let’s start with that, right? And by recognizing that this is my purpose I listen to my spirit, I follow my heart because I believe that those ideas were truly put in my heart because it is my calling, and I just don’t ignore my calling.”
Surprisingly, Malinda has had her doubts concerning her calling. “You know there have been a few times—not very many—when I was younger, probably in my twenties, when I questioned whether or not this is what I was supposed to be doing. I’ll even say when I started doing ‘Soul Food.’ Before I did ‘Soul Food’ I thought ‘I don’t want to do that project because I I’m more interested in being a mother and having a family, and I felt like my family needs me right now,’ but that project just kept landing on my desk, saying that this is for you. So I couldn’t ignore it and it turned out to be one of my greatest achievements…” Purpose and positivity seem to fuel Malinda’s career and perforate throughout every area of her life. She boasts a powerful, silence confidence that everyone around her can see and admire.
As aforementioned, she has had many roles on a number of television shows and movies like Moesha, Belly, and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. However, most of us know and love Malinda from her time on Showtime’s groundbreaking series, Soul Food, as Tracy “Bird” Van Adams. There, she took on the role as the youngest of the Joseph Sisters who owned a beauty shop and eventually became a televised beauty consultant. Unbeknownst to the public, this role shaped much of her life, brought her previous work full circle, and is something she believes is still relevant to this day. “It [Soul Food] still holds up to this day. You know when you’re writing a show about a family. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about a Black family, you’re just writing about things that happen to regular people no matter what race they are….One of my secrets [to the longevity in her career] is working on projects that stand the test of time, that aren’t dateable. Soul Food wasn’t dateable, it’s genius, it’s classic. The same things that were going on with the family in that show are issues folks will probably deal with until the end of time.” We definitely miss Soul Food, and yearly rumors are swirling that the show will be rebooted. This time around it would focus on a grown up Ahmad and his family with his extended family taking on recurring roles. As we mentioned, this is just a rumor, but Malinda states it would be a great idea. We will keep our fingers crossed!
Soul Food may have been some of Malinda’s most memorable projects, but her recurring role as “Marci Jewel” in TV One’s holiday movies, Marry Me For Christmas (2013), Marry Us For Christmas (2014), and A Baby For Christmas (2015) are our current fan favorites. The film franchise has been met with rave reviews and will return this Christmas with a fourth installment, Baby’s First Christmas! Malinda truly enjoys working on the films due to her love of holiday movies and more importantly the surrogate family and sisterhood she shares with actress, Terri J. Vaughn . “Holiday shows are wonderful! People love holiday films! Families are together, kids are home from college, you also have family members that you are visiting, so they’re looking for things to sit down and view together…When you have holiday programming that’s clean and gives people a good feeling and gets them in the holiday spirit those are projects that you really can’t lose on. I produce them along with Eric Thomas and Keith Neil, and those gentlemen are wonderful, and put out some really good family films. I also get to star alongside Karon Riley, who is Terri J. Vaughn’s husband. Teri’s one of my dearest friends so at this point it’s like we’re a family coming together to do a project about family. We have a really wonderful relationship, and our writer Rhonda Baraka, she has recognized our relationship now. I think that by the second film she saw this synergy that we have as a cast and she began to write working with the chemistry we have together. Now it’s like by the time we’re shooting our fourth installment it’s a piece of cake! We’re just coming together and we have the material, doing our lines, and acting it out, but we’re just being family.” She goes on to reveal her personal connection the youngest star of the film, “The baby in A Baby For Christmas is Karon’s daughter, his and Teri’s daughter, Lola, is also my goddaughter, and she’s a little actress in her own right [she laughs]. She is just amazing and incredible…I’m just like really? I get to play my goddaughter’s mother in a movie. I get to play my best friend’s husband’s wife in a movie…it’s just amazing.”
Malinda has become quite the beauty guru. Some would even consider her the face of the short hair movement, sisters who routinely rock the trendiest short cuts that remain timeless and cutting edge. “I never really considered myself the face of the movement I just do what I do and I live in my own truth. The truth of myself is that I love short, versatile hair. One thing I’ve learned about being a Black Woman is that we are so versatile, we’re versatile in so many ways… and with our hair and it’s a way we get to express ourselves with so may styles…On my YouTube channel that came about almost by accident…I was working on a talk series called Exhale for Esquire Network and I met Angela Burt Murray; and I showed her a video I shot in my bathroom when I was living in New Jersey…she was like well what are you doing with this video? And I was like ‘nothing’ and she said we should do something with this…she and I started doing these tutorials which as you know are wildly popular. On YouTube their the number two category is beauty tutorials, right after gaming…I had no idea what a huge following this would be so it sort of circles back to what my calling is…it’s another thing I have an affinity for…so again, I get to do what I love!” Unlike many celebrities who may just be the face of a brand. Malinda’s knowledge of hair and beauty makes her far more than a spokesperson or ambassador—she’s an expert and authority! Be sure you check out her self-titled YouTube channel to see her “Mane Taming” episodes and other amazing beauty tips!
When they say “Black Don’t Crack,” they must have been talking about Malinda. As you can tell she does not age! Besides regularly working out and eating right, she mostly attributes her youthful looks to her genes. “The reason I’ve been able to appear youthful so many years is because my grandfather is 106 years old…I really appreciate you noticing that, but I have to say I have really wonderful genes and I’m gonna hold that youthfulness and try to carry it to the end…”
Read the full story in the Loving your Body Issue sold Exclusivly on our site
Shot by Nathan Pearcy
Hair By Crystal Givens
Makeup by Jolisa Rena
Wardrobe By Julian Lark
Creative Direction by Porsha Davis