In her most challenging role to date, TV and film actress Malinda Williams is making audiences stand up and take notice as Cassandra, a troubled pastor’s wife in Russ Parr’s The Undershepherd.
Cassandra not only suffers abuse at the hand of her husband, played by Isaiah Washington, but she also suffers from bulimia, an eating disorder which is very common among young women today. This is the fifth film Parr has written and directed.
The controversial look into the Black church is so dark and twisted that it was a shock to the film’s creators when it received six Grand Jury Award nominations from the American Black Film Festival including Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, and for Malinda’s role, Best Actress.
Receiving this honor never even crossed Malinda’s mind. She said she never thinks in terms of awards. However, after the honor sunk in, she had to admit, “It’s great that somebody is appreciating the work. Somebody was moved.”
The actress told S2S she had to be very careful on two fronts. First, she along with the entire cast realized they were portraying religious figures and people with very strong convictions, so they had to be responsible with their portrayals. And second, she had to mentally prepare herself not to go too far into her character.
“There were moments where I was actually frightened by the process of delving into certain aspects of this rol—the abuse aspect and the bulimia aspect—because these are dark places,” she explained. “It affected me in a way that hurt my heart because I know women that have gone through it.”
Being the professional that she is, Malinda went all in for her character, but also knew she had to keep herself in check. “I am one of those people that believe that things that you think, you attract into your experience,” she explained. So she constantly reminded herself she was just playing a role and did not allow those things to permeate into her spirit.
Watch the trailer of The Undershepherd below.