Michelle Williams has accomplished a lot since the superstar trio Destiny's Child dissolved a few years ago.
She has recorded two solo albums—Heart to Yours and Do You Know; conquered the stage through roles in Aida and The Color Purple; and even made a splash on TV, playing an HIV-positive record producer in the UPN series Half & Half. Now, the Illinois native has a new album, Unexpected, dropping Tuesday, Oct. 7—accompanied by a single, 'We Break the Dawn,' that has a video full of very hot guys.
Windy City Times: Congratulations on The Color Purple. I hardly ever go to musicals, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Michelle Williams: Oh, thank you!
WCT: Was it intimidating working on this production? I know you have theater experience, being in Aida.
MW: It wasn't, because I really prepared for it. We had months of rehearsals, and being in Chicago made it a little better. Plus, we had a very strong cast, and that helped, too.
WCT: Let's talk about your new CD. Why is it called Unexpected?
MW: Nobody expected me to come out with that type of an album. Everything in my life has been unexpected.
WCT: How would you describe this album?
MW: It is a pop album with some dance and Euro-club elements. There's also a bit of R&B in it.
WCT: The first single, 'We Break the Dawn,' is certainly catchy. In making the [ accompanying ] video, you said that you wanted to make the opposite of a club video. What did you mean by that?
MW: When I first heard 'We Break the Dawn,' and thought about what the video should be, people said that it should be in a club and I said, 'That's so typical.' So we set it outside of a club.
WCT: Well, I want to thank you for the video—and the dancers in it.
MW: [ Laughs ]
WCT: When did you notice your following in the gay community?
MW: I noticed it, personally, with this particular single. I go on MySpace a lot and hit the blogs every once in a while, and it is amazing what the gay [ community ] says. I like that there is a base.
WCT: You've been an entertainer for a number of years now. I have to ask: Does anything prepare you for fame?
MW: [ Pauses ] You can have all the school training in the world to get the basic tools, but nothing beats that hands-on experience. It's the same way with entertainment: You can have all the basics, but the real [ learning ] is when you have to deal with people in the industry.
WCT: Do you have a favorite musical genre?
MW: I love all types of music. I don't want to be pigeonholed and do one type of music. [ Note: Williams has previously recorded gospel music. ] I'm sure my record label wants me to decide what I want to sing. But, I'd like to think that my fan base will follow whatever I decide to do.
WCT: You have other interests, of course. You're part-owner of [ women's pro basketball team ] the Chicago Sky. This season had to be bittersweet: The team didn't make the playoffs, but star player Sylvia Fowles won an Olympic gold medal this year.
MW: [ Fowles winning the medal ] was great. Sylvia got injured at the beginning of the season, and she was our star girl. Sylvia did go to the Olympics and represent. With the Sky, there's only room to get better. They're going to kick butt next season.
WCT: You're also involved in something called Camp Heartland ( www.campheartland.org ) . Could you talk a little bit about that.
MW: Camp Heartland is for children infected with HIV/AIDS, and it's also for family members who need help dealing with it. [ The camp ] is really a beautiful place. It's like the kids don't have a care in the world [ when they're there ] .
See www.michellewilliamsonline.com . Also, visit iTunes for Williams' music.