By Kathy L. Collins

Dan’yelle Williamson always wanted to become an actress.

“I became an actress because the idea of becoming someone else in another world appealed to me,” explained Williamson, who grew up in Brandon.

She graduated from Howard W. Blake High School and received her Bachelor’s of Fine Art from the Boston Conservatory. Now, Williamson is living her dream.

Williamson got her big break on Broadway when she landed the role of Felicia Farrell in Memphis.

“Not only was this my Broadway debut, but the character and I had many things in common. As an African American woman in theatre, we are often overlooked and/or used in a very limited fashion,” said Williamson. “This role allowed me to tap into the power that I as a woman of color have. Felicia Farrell aspired to get out of the underground clubs of Memphis. She wanted more for herself and her gift. I have been faced with many challenges, but have been able to overcome many obstacles in making it to Broadway.”

Recently, Williamson had the pleasure of working on Dreamgirls as Lorrell Robinson at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Today, Williamson is working on her next project which is being kept under wraps for the time being.

Williamson has worked hard to achieve the success she has to date. Her advice to aspiring young actors and actresses is simple: Be resilient.

“The performance industry is tough, you have to be able to let things go quickly. A ‘no’ does not mean you are not talented. It just means you did not necessarily fit their vision. A lot of times, creative teams think they know what they want. Keep that in mind,” explained Williamson.

Williamson returns home to the greater Brandon area when she has time. This past December, her visit home included volunteering at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa.

“I feel it is important to give back. It is easy to take certain things for granted like food, clothing, and a home, but some folks do not have these ‘basic’ things. Volunteering brings me joy, and the folks receiving gifts and food were so appreciative. Seeing them happy makes me happy that I made a difference,” said Williamson.

You can follow Williamson and her career by visiting www.danyellewilliamson.com.