Jessica Williams is a woman of so many talents that it's easy to forget she's only 25. The youngest (and best) Daily Show correspondent spoke at the Sundance Film Festival with Slate about her segments which focus on feminist issues and black feminist issues. "Now that I'm older, Jon [Stewart] gives me more liberties to explore what I think is important," Williams said.
She made waves in 2014 with her powerful and important segments, focussing largely on street harassment and campus rape. In the memorable "Jessica Williams' Feminized Atmosphere," Williams exposed just how threatening, persistent and exhausting street harassment can be. It was a follow-up to her earlier and equally great segment "Masters of Sexism," where she slam dunked with the line, "[A woman’s] walk to work is not there for [men] to comment on. It’s not a red carpet, it’s not a fashion week runway. It’s a sidewalk." Damn right.
At Sundance, where she was promoting her film People, Places and Things, Williams talked about the name she's made for herself on The Daily Show, and it's amazing how both confident and humble she is about her work. When asked if her feminist segments "were a conscious choice on her part in terms of pitching ideas," Williams said: "Yeah, it's very relevant now. I also grew up on the show and started the show when I was 22, and I just wanted to have dope-ass opinions, and now a lot of my main issues are women's issues and black women's issues." It's safe to say her objective of having dope-ass opinions has definitely be satisfied.
Even though The Daily Show has been home lately to two incredible female correspondents, Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee, it's still frustrating to see that there are, after all, only two of them. When Jon Stewart took a day off last fall because he was out sick, Jason Jones filled in for him in the host's seat. Samantha Bee, Jones' wife IRL, made a lot of not-so-amicable barbs at Jones and Jon Stewart for not choosing a woman to fill in for just one night. "I should be in that seat right now," she said, and she certainly should have been.
Though I love Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show, there was a small, hopeful part of me that wishes Williams would get Colbert's vacant time slot. Some day down the line, I'm sure, she'll get her own show, but as for now, her voice is strong and necessary to rounding out The Daily Show's diversity. In a recent segment about Jay Z, Williams told Jon Stewart to "stay in his lane," and she's gotta be there to keep him in check. As much as Jon Stewart is an ally to women and other minorities, he owes it to his show and his audience to keep Williams around to speak from a place of personal experience.
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