Four years after being hired as “The Daily Show’s” very first African American female correspondent (in 2012), Jessica Williams has said goodbye to the Comedy Central show. Williams signed a development deal with the network that will see her write, produce, and star in the pilot for a half-hour scripted series produced by Naomi Ekperigin (“Broad City,” “Difficult People”), that will center on “a politically-minded young woman who may be ‘woke’ but doesn’t know what she’s doing,” according to the official description.
Williams explained in an interview during which she made the announcement of her “Daily Show” exit: “I’ve had this idea for a while about a young woman who is a feminist and who imagines herself to be “woke.” I think that a lot of the time, we have this idea that when you are, like, “woke” – that you should always have your shit together. But I know that often for me, as a woman of color, I feel like I’m supposed to represent these ideals and values that I was taught as a young lady. Like I’m supposed to carry myself in a special type of way, but oftentimes I’m, like… I’m still in my 20s, and still kind of a mess. So it’s a show about somebody in their 20s who has all these social ideas, but still does not have it together… The main thing about the show is that I’m excited to, in a silly and funny way, be able to explore ideas of feminism and race and LGBT issues — things that I care about.”
Comedy Central president Kent added to the interview: “She’s kind of grown up there at ‘The Daily Show.’ Rather than say goodbye to her, for her to go somewhere else, we want to make sure that we’re developing with her, so that when she’s ready for her next platform, it can actually be with us.”
A smart decision, given that Comedy Central has seen a number of its talents leave the network and become even bigger stars at other networks.
Williams’ next move was only a matter of when, not if, starting with the social media blitz that vaulted her name to the top of the list of successors for the then exiting Jon Stewart in 2015, as host of ‘The Daily Show.” However, it wasn’t a position she wanted, as Williams took to Twitter soon afterward to dampen any enthusiasm and end rumors of her being the likely candidate for the job.
She wasn’t ready for it, was her reply, in brief.
“I feel so many emotions… I feel like I’m growing up and graduating,” Williams said.
And we’re looking forward to seeing what kind of art blossoms from all that growth. Williams will next be seen in the indie feature, “The Incredible Jessica James.”