Kiely Williams is no stranger to girl groups. She’s been in two: 3LW alongside Adrienne Bailon Houghton and Naturi Naughton – and The Cheetah Girls, an international frenzy courtesy of Disney where Williams toured alongside Bailon Houghton, Raven Symone, and Sabrina Bryan.
Both groups dismantled but Williams still believes in the power of girl groups, which is why she had little hesitation in deciding to participate in the Carlos King-produced reality series, BET Presents: The Encore. The show documents Williams and eight other female singers from other popular girl groups who join forces to create a supergroup of their own. The ladies are put to the test to learn choreography, have intense vocal training, studio sessions, and a final performance.
Total member Pamela Long is also in the house. Both she and Williams go into the experiment with an open mind. But when Williams announces she has no desire to be part of the group and instead serve as a creative director, all hell breaks loose. Long is one of the only ones receptive to the idea. For Long, who had hits with her group like “Can’t You See” and “No One Else,” she says Williams proved herself during dance rehearsals why she could be of assistance behind the scenes.
“Kiely did amazing…she plays it real cool though,” Long told Shadow and Act. “I had like three left feet and I was like, ‘Kiely, can you please help me?’ I was blown away. She ain’t even [rehearse the steps]. All she did was stand there, watch and look, and the next thing you know she was doing it. And doing it in a boss up fashion, just going.”
With the chaos in the house of trying to get nine women to agree on a vision, Williams says she did what was necessary to stay centered, “I figured, I’m here for a reason, we can do this, we just have to keep pushing,” she says. “My whole mindset going into it was that I’m going to not give up in the hopes that whoever is feeling down that day would see that I had a shit day the day before and I got up the next day and kept going so you can too and that’s why we’re all here to support each other.”
Overall, both women wanted to be of service and not necessarily care to be in the forefront. Long kept herself in tact by leaning on her faith. “I saturate myself in prayer because it works,” she says. “Because I need it because if I’m not good, then how can I be good to everyone else around me?”
Williams says Long’s spirit was definitely needed in the house of so many superstars. Luckily, despite the drama, both say things come together.
Watch the full interview where Williams and Long reveal more about creative differences, friendships they built, and why they participated in the experiment:
Watch BET Presents: The Encore on BET every Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST.