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St. John's Confidential File

An Artist Wearing Many Titles
Posted by Michael St. John on Aug 3, 2013 - 6:00:41 AM

HELLO AMERICA!—After meeting and talking with Wanda Ray Willis my belief that Hollywood is still alive and well, because she like so many of our stars of yesterday, she can do it all. 


MSJ: When did you first discover that you wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry?


WRW: At a very young age in Bermuda where I sang solos in church and at other events and when My Mom took me to my first musical, The Sound of Music. I would dress up and put on shows for my parents, singing and doing all the actions for the musical and did the same with the musical Purlie which featured Cleavon Little and Melba Moore.

Wanda Ray Willis


MSJ: Who were your idols as a youngster in either Broadway or in the motion picture industry and why?


WRW: Melba Moore, Julie Andrews, Diana Ross and Lena Horne. All because they were stunningly beautiful and versatile entertainers in the industry who also were business women in the industry who got things they wanted to get done in spite of!!


MSJ: When you first arrived in Hollywood how were you welcomed?  Was it a frightening experience?


WRW: No, it wasn’t frightening. In fact, it was surprising since it was only in a matter of months that I got my Sag card, which I was told took most much longer. My first 2 jobs from Bill dance Casting were Sagg vouchers!! Thanks Bill and Terrance! I also got to produce and air the children’s television show I wrote before coming to California.


MSJ:  You opened for Gladys Knight at one point. Was this one of the biggest challenges of your young career?  And how was she to work with?


WRW: Yes, it was an invigorating experience. But I don’t think she heard or saw me perform as she was very late due to traffic and the weather. I didn’t even get to meet her.


MSJ: What has been the most difficult challenge with which to deal since settling down in Hollywood?


WRW: The challenge of trying to work on my craft, practice and go to theatrical classes while surviving financially on my own without taking a non creative job.


MSJ: What is your ultimate goal as an artist at this point in your life?


WRW: To get a regular theatrical or performing job(s) that still allow me to create and turn my creations into production entities that are viewed by the public. With my songs being recorded by myself or my material in movies or recorded by already established artists. I also have a children’s reading readiness program that publicizes positive events in the school system, that I’d like to produce again and have air once a week nationally.


MSJ: When you’re alone and look in a mirror who and what do you see and how does it make you feel?


WRW: I see a determined hardworking woman who has vision and inner peace. It makes me feel wonderful to be the person that I am.


Cliffside Malibu




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