Hollywood’s Treasure – Evan Williams

With over a decade’s worth of credits, Evan Williams has admirers from all over the world. Most recently, it was his role as “Chevalier” in Versailles, which garnered the Canadian-born actor praise from critics and fans alike.

With captivating charm and a sharp sense of humor, Williams shines both on screen and off. It’s not only his acting and singing that wins hearts over, but it’s his kind-hearted spirit as well.

At 15 years old, Williams began his philanthropic efforts working with a mobile medical clinic in the deep jungle of Nicaragua. It’s a passion he has been pouring his soul into ever since. In June, we caught up with Williams while he was traveling to Malawi, Africa, volunteering with an organization called, buildOn.

“I don’t plan to slow down,” Williams tells INLOVE Magazine about his charity work. “It’s not because I’m some great philanthropist. I’m just a regular person. But, I truly believe that if your average citizen could see the life-changing power that this kind of service can channel, they would get hooked, too.”

Sari: How do you balance creating music and acting?
EW: I feel like music and acting utilize the same muscle. It’s storytelling, so we can come to know each other more personally and more universally. When I’m singing my heart out, it feels the same as when I lose myself in a character. The two forms complement each other. As an actor, I have to wait for the tap on the shoulder to do my job, or I’m biding my time for the next project that’s right, so during the in-between time, I can throw myself at the music. I play to soothe my soul first and foremost; to untangle the complexities of what it means to be alive. Without it, I frankly don’t know what I would do. It’s a relatively recent revelation that the world might care to be soothed by my music the way that I have been privately. I’ve been working to unearth and discard the filters that I’ve thrown up over the years to protect myself. Same goes for the acting in that respect. I want to get truer and braver. That’s really the work of any artist. It’s a journey, and underneath all the fanfare, it’s an act of love. That’s why art and activism fit together so snugly.

Sari: You have a background in musical theatre. Do you ever think about doing theatre again?
EW: Sure. It’s been a minute, but I had some of the most fun in my life doing musical theatre productions. Every so often, a new song will bubble up from inside of me that is just a touch too theatrical. I’m stockpiling them for a rainy day when I plan to finally write my own musical. It’s been a pipe dream ever since I first stepped on stage. On the performance side, I audition for projects with a musical component all the time; more often in recent years, as I think it’s popular right now.

Sari: Your voice and lyrics are very soulful. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
EW: I don’t approach music as a puzzle to fit together or as an algorithm to hack, but as a vibrational dive into myself. Since we’re all fundamentally on the same ride here, the more personal one gets, the more universal it is. I’ve naturally developed a technique – quite by accident – where I’ll start with an instrument, some motif or movement that catches my ear or stirs me for whatever reason, and I’ll free(ly) associate a melody that grows from within the movement of the chords. Then gradually, I’ll close my mouth around vowel sounds as they crystallize organically. Maybe a word or two will pop out over time, and I’ll continue to draw the sound up and out, marrying the melody to the mood, staying open to the feelings that are arising, letting the song tell me what it wants to say. Slowly sounds grow into words, which grow into phrases, and eventually, I’ll catch the thread that my subconscious has been dangling for me. There’s always an ‘aha, so that’s what this song is about!’ moment, and it’s always exciting.

Sari: Versailles was a fantastic show. What was your favorite part about playing Chevalier?
EW: Versailles was magical to be a part of. The longer the time stretches since we wrapped the show, the more I appreciate what a special experience it was. I was so lucky to have a character like Chevalier to dig into and to have writers who so artfully grew the character up around me once they saw the way I was playing him. It’s fascinating to see the way the character ended up, compared to the original casting breakdown. He was to be dark and dangerous, brooding, and likely killed off by the end of the first season. Instead, we have this blonde show pony, natural disaster, who can’t help but make his life more difficult at every turn. In three seasons, I explored an arc that saw the character evolve almost unrecognizably. I hear this so often from fans of the show: ‘At first, I hated him, then I loved to hate him, then I loved him.’ I am so pleased when I hear this because that was always my goal. I needed to defend this guy because no one else did. I couldn’t let him become an archetype. I wanted to find his broken heart and explore him trying to escape from it any way possible. I wanted to find the bridge where he ended, and I began, and then meld the two worlds together. I feel like I only scratched the surface, but it was an absolute blast. I won’t miss the heels or the heat of the wig on the warmest days, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Sari: What’s a fun fact about you that isn’t searchable on the internet? Something your IMDB page won’t tell us?
EW: For the last six years or so, I’ve regularly played live music classes at a hot yoga studio in L.A. I sit in the back with a guitar, a ukulele, and a couple of other little instruments from India, and I sing and play whatever comes to me for the duration of the hot yoga class. Sometimes originals, sometimes covers, sometimes I’ll just open my mouth and make something up. It’s right in the sweet spot for me artistically because it’s not a performance per se. I’m really there to facilitate the experience of the people during their practice. At the same time, they’re also deeply listening to themselves and the music, so we take a journey together as the body and mind open to a deeper experience. Reverence and resonance together. It’s magic.

Sari: Since we are INLOVE Magazine, I want to know what being “INLOVE” means to you.
EW: I’m a big fan of this question. For me, being INLOVE means LOVING OUT. Those who follow my social media have heard me talk about loving out for the last couple of years. I’ve built all of my charitable fundraising on this concept. What I mean by loving out, is that it’s a given that we all have love in our hearts, it’s part of being human. But if our love stays safe within the confines of our heart, then it stays in the realm of potential – and the world will never be blessed by it. We’ve got to activate our love bravely, get it up and out, or all of our overflowing hearts will remain a secret. The thing about love is it’s contagious. Once it catches, it’s like wildfire. I believe this is what we need right now as a global society. When I was first sounding the call for support with buildOn, I put it this way: When we feel the pain of the world around us, the urge to react with anger, violence, apathy, and cynicism can be so strong it can be difficult to find a reason to hope. The world is so big, what could I ever do that would have any effect? The sense of scale can seem overwhelming. But, it’s my core belief that LOVE IS STRONGER THAN FEAR. Fear is reactive, but love is active. Fear is reductive, but love is creative. It grows roots deep into the ground and forms a network. It grows limbs high into the sky and spreads its arms, to be seen for miles in every direction. Love is a revolutionary act. It doesn’t matter what your expression of love is, as long as it is universal, and as long as it’s getting out.

Williams continues to share his message of “loving out” with the world, as well as his talent. While the actor says he would be on board for a revival of Versailles – and fans eagerly await the possibility – the former Degrassi star has several other projects in the works. He’s already back in the studio, recording his follow-up to The Bright World EP. You can also catch him starring opposite Venessa Lengies [Glee] in their new Christmas movie.

“Last but not least, I’ve got a short film currently in postproduction, which I wrote, directed, and scored,” Williams added. “I’m not rushing that one, it’s a passion piece, but I’ll be very excited to share it when it’s done.”

Sari Cohen