Genelle Williams is a Canadian actress who is best known for her role as Leena in the Syfy TV Series Warehouse 13. She’s also credited as Sister Judith in the movie Orphan, Ashley Ellis in the movie Saving God and numerous television shows such as Degrassi, The Latest Buzz, The Listener and The Lost Girl. I caught up with Genelle and her natural tresses.
Mz Mahogany: How did you become an actress?
Genelle: It was my last year of high school and I was performing in a musical. There was teacher there that happened to be with an agency. She asked me if I ever thought of acting. I told her I thought of it but there were many scams that asked for thousands upfront. She took my picture from school and sent it to her agency and the rest was history.
Mz Mahogany: Most people know you on the SyFy TV show Warehouse 13, how did you land that role?
Genelle: I missed the first audition for the pilot because I was getting my tonsils taken out but they still haven’t found someone for the character Leena. When I got a chance to audition for the pilot it went really well. Jace Alexander was the director at the same. Season 1 aired in 2009 and I’ve been playing the role Leena ever since.
Mz Mahogany: Are you returning for season 4?
Genelle: Yes, wow time goes by so quickly! We are shooting now. It’s great. I’m very lucky and everyone on the show is amazing. The fans love it and it’s one of the high grossing shows on SyFy.
Mz Mahogany: What was it like having a part in a big film like Orphan?
Genelle: I had a smaller part in the move Orphan but I really enjoyed it because most of my scenes were with CCH Pounder, who I get to work with a lot on Warehouse 13. It was ironic because we also did another pilot together, all within a month I happened to work with her three times. I really enjoyed it more so for that reason. She is absolutely amazing and gives the best advice in the entire world. I love her and I have been blessed to be able to work with her. That would be my highlight for the movie Orphan. Movies are so much more different than television work. It would be great to do more of it. After Warehouse 13, I’m hoping to venture more in that direction.
Mz Mahogany: Are you currently working on anything else?
Genelle: No, just Warehouse 13 right now. I have kids too so it’s a great schedule for me to be able to do both, being a mom and being an actress.
Mz Mahogany: Let’s talk hair, how long have you been natural?
Genelle: Oh gosh! How old am I, 28? So it’s been 15 years I think. My mom is Caucasian and my dad’s side of the family always told my mom to perm my hair. I hated it back then but now natural hair is in. I didn’t have any Caucasian friends and everyone permed their hair or wore extension. So I did both. It wasn’t until my last year of junior high school I decided to stop perming it. I was really into volleyball and I was constantly sweating out my perm. The constant need to re-perm was damaging my hair and my scalp. So I stopped! I was so happy and it was probably the best thing I ever did. Like I said I hated it at first but learned to love it.
Mz Mahogany: Did you go through a transition period or did you do a big chop?
Genelle: I let the perm grow out and then I cut it all off. I remember going to the 9th grade with short hair. My aunt was a hair dresser so I would go to her house and my hair treatments to keep my hair healthy. It’s really helpful to know people that can style natural hair. Usually on set there aren’t many people that can handle natural hair. So yeah I did have to start over by cutting all my hair off but it was worth it in the end.
Mz Mahogany: After you cut your hair and went to school for the first time, did you get any reactions from your friends?
Genelle: Not really because I didn’t really wear my hair out. I always wore it back and since I cut it, it was too short to wear it back like I normally would do. So it was more of big thing that was my hair was out. It was kind of a shock to them when I first had it curly. But then I started blow drying and flat ironing it because at the time I hated the curls. My best friend, who happens to be my boyfriend now, loved it curly back then. He was great motivation to wear it curly.
Mz Mahogany: Would you ever go back to a chemical relaxer?
Genelle: No! As much as it is a pain to blow dry and flat iron, which I do less of now, I still have that option to wear it straight when I want to. On the show, my hair is curly so I don’t wear it straight too often. Plus I watch the movie Good Hair. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
Mz Mahogany: What is your current daily hair care regimen?
Genelle: I don’t wash my hair everyday however when it’s curly I do wet it to freshen up the curls. I deep condition it a lot. I use Moroccan oil. I really do enjoy their conditioner. I also use the Mixed Chicks shampoo and leave-in conditioner.
Mz Mahogany: How often are you washing your hair with shampoo?
Genelle: It really depends. If I’ve worked a lot and they’ve put a lot of sheen in my hair then I’d wash it with shampoo every two or three days. If I was my hair a lot it will dry it out. When it’s straight I shampoo it every five days.
Mz Mahogany: Do you have any favorite products you cannot live without?
Genelle: I cannot live without my Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner. I have a huge bottle and I travel with little bottles everywhere I go. It’s almost like my gel in one because I really don’t like gel. I use gel if I have to use it. I also cannot live without my serum. I don’t have a favorite brand serum because they pretty much do the same thing.
Mz Mahogany: How do you preserve your curly hair at night for the morning?
Genelle: Well that why I have to wet it in the morning. Even if I wrap my hair up, not matter what I do to it at night, I always have to wet it in the morning. I can never just wake up and go. When I sleep the curls get flattened and misshaped. This is why I condition my hair every day.
Mz Mahogany: When you wet it, are you putting more products in your hair?
Genelle: Sometimes when there is already a lot of product in my hair, all I have to do is wet it. Other times, I wet it and put more Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner.
Mz Mahogany: Have you noticed any heat damage as a result of blow drying and flat ironing your hair?
Genelle: Yes, I have noticed a few pieces in the back that won’t get curly. I have a small curling iron that I use to try and fix it. Heat definitely loosens the curls. After I straighten my hair, when I wash it, my curls are always different. It eventually goes back with the exception of some pieces in the back.
Mz Mahogany: I’ve seen you rock your hair with a red hue, golden brown hue. Are you dying your hair?
Genelle: Yes, I used to have blond in my hair and I tried to get rid of it. I tried dying it and played with different colors until the blond was out. I regret it.
Mz Mahogany: Did it make your hair brittle or dry?
Genelle: Yes, the blond did. I remember the front part completely broke off. I cried for days.
Mz Mahogany: While trying to cover up the blond, did you use dyes that were chemical based or natural?
Genelle: The guy that’s doing my hair is using natural products on me. On the show, Allison Scagliotti is a super natural chick and she yells at me about it! I probably won’t have to dye it again because we are back to my natural hair color.
Mz Mahogany: Do you have any words of encouragement to the many women that are thinking of going natural?
Genelle: People are usually worried about what other people will think, especially what males think. Just embrace it. In the long run, you are going to be happy you went natural. There are so many things you can do with your hair. You will get to know you hair. Right now, natural hair is in, so if you are going to try it, now would be the perfect opportunity. You have women that are paying hundreds for a weave that looks natural, which is beyond me. I would say embrace it and do it.
Mz Mahogany: Thank you so much for sharing!
Watch Genelle in season 4 of Warehouse 13, premiering this summer.