Bright and early this morning, while the rest of us were still snuggled deep in our beds, an announcement on Good Morning America was busy changing the life of one of our own, as Shanice Williams' casting as Dorothy in NBC's The Wiz Live! was revealed on national television. (Live, of course, as is only fitting.) In case you aren't quite up to date, The Wiz is a musical based on The Wizard of Oz, and NBC has already cast Queen Latifah as the wizard (a role usually played by a man) and Mary J. Blige as Evillene, aka the Wicked Witch of The West. And while I'm sure we're all equally thrilled for the young Williams for landing the coveted lead role in such an iconic musical, you'd be forgiven for not recognizing her name right off the bat.
And that's because Williams is a newcomer in the truest sense of the word. She's not been working and auditioning for years and snagging small parts in TV shows and movies and just not getting the recognition she deserves; this girl is a complete newbie, and in The Wiz, she's making her big-time musical debut. Crazy, right? So in honor of that impressive accomplishment, it's time to get to know her as much as we can before her face is everywhere. (You know, everyone likes to say "I knew her before she was a huge star.")
Here's what I managed to learn about Williams, who'll be belting her way onto your TV screens in The Wiz Live! on Dec. 3, 2015.
She's Just 18 Years Old
Yup. She is a literal teenager. That puts her on the lowest possible end of the 18-27 age range that producers were searching for for this role, and that also means you're probably racking your brain right now to figure out how you've already been able to waste so much of your life. (I know I am.)
She's From New Jersey
The Most She's Done Up Until Now Is Local Theater
According to Entertainment Weekly, Williams has performed in local productions like West Side Story, Pippin, and 42nd Street, and has about five years total of experience in local musical theater. So even though she's young, it seems like she knows what she's doing. (I mean, she also sounds like she knows what she's doing. Sing it, lady!)
She's Even Been Up For Prestigious Theater Awards
She's already made a mark on the local theater community, as in 2014 she was nominated for best leading actress in a musical at well-known New Jersey theater Paper Mill Playhouse's Rising Star Awards. Fancypants.
She Got The Role From An Open Call
That means she beat out hundreds of other young women for the part, which isn't surprising when you see her audition!
She Shares Her Name With A Beauty Queen Who Made It All The Way To Miss Universe
The other Shanice Williams went all the way to Miss Universe in 2014 representing Turks and Caicos, which was very confusing for me until I saw photos of both of them and realized they were different people.
She's The Second Williams In A Row To Star In An NBC Live Musical
Conspiracies aside, I think some congratulations are in order. I couldn't be more excited for this girl!