Stephanie Evison Williams’ day always starts with a coffee. She then will walk her dog and head to a fitness class. She knows how you begin your day as an actress is vital to your success. It is about getting in the right headspace, so when she walks on set she is someone else entirely. She devotes herself completely to those she portrays, even trying to dream about future scenes while embodying her character. That, for Evison Williams, is what being an actress is all about.
From a young age, Evison Williams loved musical theatre, and as an overly creative kid and sometimes, as she describes, a loud child, she found her way into acting. In her high school years, she played Sally Bowles in a small production of Cabaret and that was when she knew. There was nothing else in this world she wanted to pursue, and since that time, she has devoted herself solely to acting, quickly rising and becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after actresses.
“I love the people, like-minded creative people who observe the world slightly differently to most, people who people watch and who go through life with a scalpel trying to understand why people behave like they do. I love the feeling when you are so ‘in’ a moment, it’s the best form of mindfulness or meditation because you are so present, listening and reacting. Creative flow. It’s a drug, acting,” she said.
Known for her work in the Netflix series Rostered On, as well as films such as Playgroundand In the Wake, Evison Williams has had a formidable career, with many highlights decorating her resume. One such project was the award-winning film Lazy Boy, which saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals, despite being made for the infinitesimal budget of $600 AUD.
Lazy Boy was awarded a 2016 Flickerfest finalist and nominated for the Flickerfest National Tour as well as a SciFi Film festival nomination. It received a Heathcote Film Festival nomination and was an Official Selection and a Top 100 Short Film at the 2016 St Kilda Film Festival. In 2017, it toured theatrically around the United Kingdom with Discover Film.
“It’s fantastic. I am really proud of the film. It’s an amazing story. It’s a great sci-fi-esque, time travel concept with a sinister undertone and a lot of heart,” said Evison Williams.
Lazy Boy tells the story of Ray and when he brings home a new purchase, his pregnant girlfriend is not impressed. Banished to the garage he soon realizes the old La-Z-Boy recliner he bought is in fact a one-minute time machine. Audiences are asked the question: will Ray learn from his mistakes, or is he destined to repeat them forever?
In the film, Evison Williams plays Sarah, Ray’s girlfriend. Although the synopsis may present her as simply hormonal, she is far from it, and she and their unborn baby end up being the catalyst of the story, ultimately affecting Ray’s decision on whether to use the time machine for good. Sarah is trying to hold it all together, and Evison Williams perfectly portrays her struggle. She is pregnant and has a partner who is not rising to the occasion, she hormonal, working and doing all the preparation for the new baby. She is pulled very thin.
To prepare for the role, Evison Williams spent a lot of time working with her scene partner, Steve Carroll, who played Ray. They wanted to ensure they had good chemistry while in front of the camera, as the success of the film hindered on their authentic performance as a couple. For Evison Williams, a large part of her research also went in to studying how a pregnant woman may be feeling when stressed. It would have been easy for her to come off as a “nag” or “buzz kill” and Evison Williams was very conscious of showing her heart and struggle.
“I didn’t want to continue that persistent sexist stereotype. Choices were made to motivate why she is saying and behaving as she is. Not that Dave wrote her like this, but it would have been the easier choice as an actor,” she described.
The Writer and Director of the film, Dave Redman, is a prolific storyteller with a passion for film and television. He has worked in the Australian film and television industry for over 20 years and has established a solid career as a film and television editor, cutting five feature films, 160+ episodes of TV, hundreds of TVCs and more than 45 short films that have played at festivals worldwide. When Evison Williams saw the opportunity to work with him, she was eager to take part. When she read the script, she was hooked.
The story allowed for Evison Williams to dive deep into a character that could have been very two-dimensional if she allowed. In exploring Sarah, her performance was real, and that is what Evison Williams aims for in every performance, a truthful style.
“Even when doing comedy or character I am always aiming for truth. I would prefer watching a scene about ‘what’s for dinner’ more than two people not listening and performing an idea,” she concluded.
Written by Sara Fowler