As fans of Redaric Williams know, he's charming as hell, funny as hell, sexy as hell, and talented as hell. So, it was a real loss when his The Young and the Restless character, Tyler Michaelson, just disappeared without a trace back in 2014. Fortunately, fans can now see him in a new comedy series called Pump, which follows a TV fitness guru (Ray J) who is forced by scandal to return to the modest L.A. gym where he began. Williams plays a secret eater named Howard in the funny series, which is currently airing on UrbanFlixTV.
Soap Central caught up with Williams to get the scoop on what it's been like to play his very first purely comedic character and how it feels to wear a fake belly (yes, a fake belly!) for the wacky role. We also got him to give us the scoop on which of his former Y&R costars were the funniest and why Tyler just up and disappeared, or as Williams describes it, "threw a ninja bomb down on the ground and -- poof! -- was gone."
Soap Central: So, first things first, how have you been handling the quarantine situation? Are you doing okay?
Redaric Williams: I am. I'm currently on the East Coast, visiting my twin sister, who lives in the DC area. My younger sister, she was packing some stuff up and moving, so I came out here to help out my family and visit. But it hasn't been too bad. I found that even when I was in L.A., I could get caught up on things that I've been putting off to the wayside. You know, you get a busy schedule, and when you do get some downtime, you want to get some RR and relax. But now I have no excuses! I'm like, "What was that thing you were writing? Weren't you working on this, that, and the other?" [Laughs] So, there's been a lot of that.
Soap Central: How is it traveling right now? I heard it's a total nightmare.
Williams: It's not bad. I've been here a couple of times in the past month, and on the first flight, there was next to nobody, and it was such a surreal feeling. In the airports, everybody has a mask on -- which is kind of the norm now, everywhere you go, anyway -- but it was the masks and then there's this overhead audio that plays on repeat like, "Please practice social distancing. To combat this virus, keep your hands..." and it's just on repeat, and you're like, "What is going on? Are you kidding me?" [Laughs] When you're hearing that when you're walking to your gate, it's a little bit of a surreal feeling, a little bit of a dystopian future feel. But it's not bad, and the travel industry is one that has really taken a hit because of this, and for good reason, because I do think people need to take this seriously. In fact, an actor that I just recently worked with on the show Pump, he lost his father. It's an actor named Christian [Torres Villalobos], and he just lost his father last month to COVID-19. So, it's a real thing, and it's something people should be taking seriously, and to protect others, they should be taking all the precautions, wearing the masks, and practicing the social distancing. Which I am doing.
Soap Central: Of course. And what strange times to be debuting and promoting a new show! I imagine doing publicity for Pump is so different than what it would normally be like, so what has that experience been like for you?
Williams: Everything is from the phone, and you know what's crazy is that before the virus hit, I wanted to do some traveling out of the country, but then I was like, "Man, I can't," because I knew that this press run was going to be coming up for Pump. I mean, the month before, I was like, "Well, when this show releases, I know I'll need to be in the L.A. area for studio interviews, this, that, and the other," but it ended up that everything has been from your phone, everything is online, and I'm like, "I could have been anywhere in the world!" Because, yeah, I did an interview for a morning show, and it was all through Zoom. Everything is through Zoom: Zoom videoing, Zoom conference calls. [Laughs] So it is a little different, yeah. I'm new to Zoom, but Skype video is like the same thing. You could really be anywhere in the world, because everything is virtual. But there's been a progressive pull to that for years now, anyway, and this has just heightened the level of virtual everything. Even audition processes, there are taped auditions that you send in to the producers, and it's not the traditional form where you go into [a casting office], which I actually prefer.
Soap Central: A big part of being an actor is connecting with people, so I can see how that could get lost in video auditions.
Williams I think we're leaning a little too much toward the virtual. I know now it's necessary because of these health things, but I think eventually, there needs to be something to bring things back to center or something [to allow us not] to lean on technology so much. I'm not a fan of it, I'm not gonna lie. I know some people who prefer it, who really like it, who say, "Oh, I love taped auditions," or "I don't mind sitting in my living room with no pants on because you can just see my shirt when I'm doing an interview on a talk show!" [Laughs] Somebody told me when I had an interview coming up, "Don't be like this guy," and they showed me a newscast of a news anchor who had a suit and tie on but no pants, and I was like, "Oh, good lord!" But really, I've always preferred the traditional interviews and auditions, the in-person forms. When it comes to auditions, I like going into the room, and there's a feeling you get, you know? There's something different, something very, very different doing in person versus on video.
Soap Central: So, what was it like to shoot Pump? It looks like you guys must have had a blast.
Williams: Oh, my gosh, yes! Yes! I can't even tell you. I think I got exercise in my face from laughing so much. My cheeks were hurting! I've never really done just pure comedy. I've done a romantic comedy, and everything else that I've done up to this point has been in a different arena, but this was just pure comedy. My character, there is nothing romantic about this guy! He doesn't have a love interest, there is none of that going on. [Laughs] But it was just a good set, and it was so fun to work with everybody. It was just a hilarious environment to be in: very playful, very creative. It was great, all the way around. There was not a single feeling of reservation; everything was just kind of rolling downhill and moving forward. It was really good.
Soap Central: Did you find it challenging at all to do straight comedy when you've mostly played pretty dramatic roles?
Williams: No! And the reason I didn't is because straight out of the gate, it was the tool that I already had in my belt that I used for the comedy. One of the co-creators of the show and the director, Corey Grant, he was in the audition room when I auditioned, and afterward, he told me, "I absolutely love the dramatic element that you're bringing to a comedy scene. You're so believable, and it makes it that much more funny." Instead of leaning toward the comedy element, [it works] to lean toward the realism, being real, and finding that thing that makes it seem and feel real, and then the situation is going to make it funny -- that's where the comedy is going to lie. So, if you completely commit, almost in a dramatic fashion, if you commit to that moment, it's going to make it funny. And it did, so I just kept doing that and leaned into that. So much so, that actually, this character was written to be an overweight guy, but Corey was like, "You commit to the material so much, I have to have you for this role." So, I had to get a little fake stomach to put on, because he was like, "We've got to find a way to make you seem like a chubby guy!" So, I didn't have any issues. It wasn't like I was trying to develop a type of skill that I didn't previously work on. And as an actor, you like the unfamiliar areas, anyhow, because if you're too comfortable, it's going to feel [different] and almost be presented as if there's no spontaneity there. And you really want that spontaneity, so I always look for that, anyway; even if I am in an arena where it's familiar for me, I'll look for something that will put me on edge a little bit or throw me off balance, just to give it that feeling of spontaneity or realism.
Soap Central: You mentioned that you had to wear a fake belly, which is hilarious. What did that feel like?
Williams: I was disturbingly surprised how used to it I got! [Laughs] It's funny, I had a hoodie jacket on the other day, like the ones with the big pocket on the front, almost like a kangaroo pouch that you put your hands in, and my twin sister asked me if I could hold her car keys, which was this jangly thing with all these keys, a heavy set of keys, and I put it in my hoodie pouch and I was like, "Oh, man, this reminds me of when I had that big fake stomach on!" [Laughs] But, yeah, I was disturbingly surprised how used to it I got. I remember at the end of the day when I took it off, I was like, "Where's my little pooch?" I felt like I was missing something.
View this post on Instagram
The facial expression, fanny pack, and fake gut doesn't begin to describe how much fun it was bringing this character to life. Meet "Howard" the ex golden gloves boxer turned nutritionist with an eating disorder, and that ain't even the half. New comedy series PUMP streaming now exclusively on Urbanflixtv.com 7-day free trial Available on multiple devices. @urbanflix.tv @pumptvofficial #UrbanflixTV #Urbanflix #RedefiningUrban #MoviesForAllofUs #PumponUrbanflixTV #PUMP #UrbanflixTVPump
Soap Central: For those who haven't tuned in to see Pump yet, what can you say about your character? Like, how would you describe Howard?
Williams: Jeez, how can I encapsulate this guy? [Laughs] He's an athlete, like he was a boxer, and for making weight and all of that, you have to have a very stringent diet and all of that, but now he has an eating disorder and just eats everything. He kind of hides it from the guys, he says, "Oh, it's research," because he's a nutritionist. He's a mad scientist, there you go! That's how I can describe it. He's a mad scientist who is experimenting on himself, nutrition-wise, and it's not going well! [Laughs] It was a lot of fun.
Soap Central: Just to bring this back to your soap fans, when you were working at Y&R, did you have any costars that were actually just super funny?
Williams: Oh, of course! Everybody on that set was actually really hilarious, just fun and lighthearted people to be around. Angell Conwell [ex-Leslie Michaelson], we worked closely together, playing brother and sister, so there were a lot of practical jokes and pranks that we pulled. She was just a really lighthearted and fun person. But the three funny people that stick out to me are Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman), who could legit go and be a stand-up comedian and be extremely successful because he is just funny, a funny dude who is hilarious; Kristoff St. John (ex-Neil Winters), rest his soul, who was just an overall great guy and human being and also really funny, too; and Daniel Goddard (ex-Cane Ashby). Those three were just comedians and so funny in real life. Which is interesting, because I remember working with all three of them, and they would be in a scene and they'd be so serious, and I mean, the level of intensity was an eleven out of ten -- they were just there with laser beam eyes, and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife, and then, as soon as they yelled, "Cut," they're just clowns! And I was like, "How do they transition like that?!" [Laughs] It was so fun to work with them; great guys, all three of them. And really funny guys.
Soap Central: I think you almost have to have a sense of humor when you're playing dramatic soap opera scenes, otherwise they'd get to you over time!
Williams: Yeah, I think so. Especially when you commit yourself to them. It's a psychological thing, when you're going all the way there, yeah, I agree.
Soap Central: People really loved Tyler, and then he just kind of disappeared.
Williams: He did! He threw a ninja bomb down on the ground and -- poof! -- he was gone. [Laughs]
Soap Central: So, what happened? Did your contract run up and they didn't renew it, or was it just that they didn't know what to do with him anymore?
Williams: I don't know what was going on behind the curtain, because actors only have certain information. A lot of the fans of the show think that we know more than we do, but a lot of times, we find out stuff as they find out. But to my knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes, and I don't know what the reasoning was, but a lot of new writers were brought on, a new head writer and some new staff writers, so the writing crew was switched up. There was a regime change in the writing arena, and the writers that created my character, they pulled up their anchors and went elsewhere, so the new writers that came in, they weren't really invested, I think, at all in my character. And it was not a knock or anything, it's just that they had their own thing going on. And it starts with the writing, you know? Everything starts with the writing. With TV, it starts with the writing and ends with the writing. The heartbeat of any show is the writing room. So, it was new writers, and when they changed the writers, they started shifting things around, and characters changed. But it was interesting to me, because there wasn't even an investment in, "Let's write an exit story for this character." Like any soap, the show is extremely fast-paced, so I think they had to prioritize things, like what they were going to focus on, and they probably wanted to hit the ground running. There was probably a lot of pressure on their shoulders, as writers, to come onto the iconic The Young and the Restless. I remember what it felt like for me as an actor, and I can't imagine the amount of pressure as a writer, coming onto a show that's so iconic. So, I believe if I had to take an educated guess, that's what it was, the change in writing staff.
Soap Central: Have you ever kind of just made up a story for yourself about what happened to Tyler? Like, what do you think he went off and did?
Williams: Yeah, I've had a few thoughts about it. He was someone who was very ambitious. When you look at where he comes from and where he was going, he just seemed like he was becoming more and more well-versed and more and more polished. He went from being a graffiti artist to being the artistic head of Jabot! He was honing his skills to an incredible level, and to him, everything was about elevation. Everything was, "How can I take this and make it bigger and better?" And I think his life was like that, as well. So, I see him being a worldly person and traveling around, being in different countries and developing his skills to an even higher level. I see him as a bit of a globetrotter, for sure.
Soap Central: A little bit like you! You travel a lot, and you also studied abroad. Do you have any favorite places?
Williams: Yes, my absolute favorite place is South Africa, by far. I like London, as well. I've been all over Europe, but London in particular, and I love it there. But my absolute favorite would be South Africa.
Soap Central: Were you studying there or just traveling?
Williams: Actually, I was working in South Africa. At the time, I was dating a girl in New York City, and she was in the industry, and she threw South Africa out there as an idea and suggested that I sign up with some different agencies over there, so I sent out a few emails, and I got a really good response. They said, "Come on over, and we'll send you out on auditions." So, I did just that: I bought a ticket -- on my dime -- and went over there and joined an agency. I stayed for a few months and went out on auditions, and I started booking a lot of stuff left and right. I was booking a lot of work, and it got to the point where, when I left and went back to New York, I was working with so many different production companies and I had booked so many jobs over there, that [my agency in NY] would literally just email my representation in South Africa and say, "Hey, is he available for this date, this date, or this one?" And then they would relay it to me, and I would say, "Yeah, I can do that," and then they would buy me the plane ticket and set me up in a hotel over there. I even did a campaign for Carling Black Label, which is a big beer brand they have over there. So, I was working over there a lot, and the relationships that I developed and cultivated were great. I did a couple of films, one called The German, so I was there working a lot. But then, when I wasn't working, I just hung out, and I made a lot of friends there, too.
Soap Central: Weren't you in South Africa when Y&R called you?
Williams Yeah, I was! I had just finished filming and had wrapped a project, so I was hanging out and having good times, and my manager was in New York, and she said, "Hey, I think you should come back to New York because there's a show that's interested in you, and I think you'll have to fly out to California and do a screen test." So, I flew back to New York, and sure enough, like two days later, I got requested to fly out to Los Angeles and do a screen test for Y&R. So, I flew out and did a screen test, and it was like the entire [company of CBS] was there! All of the executives were there, they had the writers, and it was like a big audition. It was in this theater-sized room, like a big classroom, almost like a university auditorium, where the seats go up, and the stage is on the bottom?
Soap Central: What, really?
Williams: Yeah! So, I was down there on the bottom, and it was Christel Khalil and Daniel Goddard, who play Cane and Lily, and I had scenes with each of them. And then after the audition, my manager reached out me and said, "Hey, they want you! They're offering you a contract!" So, it was all history after that.
Soap Central: I did not know that they did auditions like that! I always thought that they took place either in a casting room or on the set of the show, like on the set of the Chancellor living room or something, you know?
Williams: No, it was like a stage play! I had to hone my theater skills and remember what it was like to perform in front of a live audience. It was like, "Okay, just do the material, do the work, get through the scene!" It was a large, large audience.
Soap Central: Well they obviously loved you, and the fans loved you. And speaking of your fans, have you found that the Y&R fans have followed you to other projects like Pump?
Williams: Yes, they still reach out to me to this day, and, in fact, I did not even know that apparently, I was on the show recently! The fans reached out to me on social media and said, "Hey, we loved seeing you!" And I was like, "Wait, what?!" [Laughs] They keep me in the know! But yeah, I love the fans. We live in such a negative, Yelp-review era, and there's especially a lot of that online, so when you have fans of a show, those people are individuals who like something, and when people like something, it's always a good energy. And you love interacting with people who are in good, positive spirits with good vibes. You know, just good people. And that's one of the things that I miss about being on the show, is going to fan events and actually meeting the fans. Like I said, they are there because it's something they like, so there is a good energy that comes along with that and a really good vibe. It's good to be around people like that, and it's good to have people like that connected to you via social media and reaching out and messaging you, because it's all coming from a place of love.
Soap Central: Do you still get recognized as Tyler?
Williams: I do! To this day, I absolutely do. It doesn't matter, I could be walking down the street or chilling at the airport. But not so much now, with the mask on your face! [Laughs] Because I do take all safety precautions, and I wear the mask and use hand sanitizer and social distancing. But yeah, to this day, I absolutely get recognized as Tyler.
Soap Central: If the opportunity came about, would you consider coming back to Y&R? Or even joining a different daytime soap?
Williams: Yeah, I would never be opposed to that. It's an arena that I love. Daytime television is just a gem. It's great to work in, it's great to be a part of, and like I said, the fan base is wonderful, just all of it. I would never shy away from any opportunity to go back.
Soap Central: Do you know the plan with Pump, as far as whether it will just be the one season or if there will be more to come?
Williams: I don't, and I'm not a psychic, but I can honestly say with confidence that this show is going to keep going. It's that good. There's going to be a season two, a season three, and so on. I know that. But there has been no talk. I have heard nothing, and we only filmed one season. But if I had to bet everything in the bank, I would put it on the fact that there are going to be more seasons. It's that good. There's no reason it wouldn't continue, really. It would have to be something catastrophic to stop the show from going forward. Other than that, no this thing is going to have a good run. I would definitely bet on that.
Soap Central: Well, we have our fingers crossed for you! Before I let you go, I have one more thing to ask. What is something you've always wanted to do but haven't found the courage?
Williams: Skydiving! That's the one thing. I had the opportunity a couple of times, and I was like, "Hhhmmm... maybe I'll put that on the to-do list for next time." [Laughs] I think there have been three solid times when it was like, "Hey, we could do this skydiving thing!" And I was just like, "Yeah, noooo." But when the opportunity is not there, when nobody is talking about it, I'm like, "That's something I'd kind of like to do!" But it's exactly what you said, about building up courage. I just haven't built up that level of confidence in the parachute pack and something not going wrong. It's something that I would love do, getting that free-fall feeling and being in the sky. I'm not afraid of heights and never have been, even as a small child. I remember when I played football in college, it was the most hilarious thing to me -- I find irony to be the most hilarious thing, like a big bear in the circus on a little, teeny bicycle, and it's funny to me, the juxtaposed situation -- and the irony on the football team was there were these big, big athletes who were little babies when it came to flying and were afraid to fly! Some of them were just deathly afraid of getting on an airplane and flying when we would have to fly for away games. And I just thought that was so interesting, like, "How are you afraid to fly, man?" For me, it's such a good feeling. When the plane is taking off, I always look out the window, and it just feels so good. I've never been afraid of heights. But something about that parachute maybe not opening or opening wrong -- I just can't get over that!
What do you think about our interview with Redaric Williams? How much do you miss seeing him as Y&R's Tyler? Have you or will you check out the actor's comedy series, Pump? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.