What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life

What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life

by Billy Dee Williams
What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life

What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life

by Billy Dee Williams

Hardcover

$32.00 
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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

An inspiring story of purpose, ambition and making his way through old, racist Hollywood, What Have We Here? is dripping in the kind of panache Billy Dee Williams brought to the screen and stage. Star Wars fans and beyond will find gobs of universality in the art and life of this actor, singer and performer.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A film legend recalls his remarkable life of nearly eight decades—a heralded actor who's played the roles he wanted, from Brian’s Song to Lando in the Star Wars universe—unchecked by the racism and typecasting so rife in the mostly all-white industry in which he triumphed.

“Effortlessly charming. . . [Williams] writes with clarity and intimacy, revealing the person behind the persona.” —Maya S. Cade, The New York Times Book Review

“The story of a legend, written by the legend himself! Impressive, inspiring, entertaining and endearing.” —J. J. Abrams

Billy Dee Williams was born in Harlem in 1937 and grew up in a household of love and sophistication. As a young boy, he made his stage debut working with Lotte Lenya in an Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill production where Williams ended up feeding Lenya her lines. He studied painting, first at the High School of Music and Art, with fellow student Diahann Carroll, and then at the National Academy of Fine Art, before setting out to pursue acting with Herbert Berghoff, Stella Adler, and Sidney Poitier.

His first film role was in The Last Angry Man, the great Paul Muni’s final film. It was Muni who gave Billy the advice that sent him soaring as an actor, “You can play any character you want to play no matter who you are, no matter the way you look or the color of your skin.” And Williams writes, “I wanted to be anyone I wanted to be.”

He writes of landing the role of a lifetime: co-starring alongside James Caan in Brian’s Song, the made-for-television movie that was watched by an audience of more than fifty million people. Williams says it was “the kind of interracial love story America needed.”

And when, as the first Black character in the Star Wars universe, he became a true pop culture icon, playing Lando Calrissian in George Lucas’s The Empire Strikes Back (“What I presented on the screen people didn’t expect to see”). It was a role he reprised in the final film of the original trilogy, The Return of the Jedi, and in the recent sequel The Rise of Skywalker.

A legendary actor, in his own words, on all that has sustained and carried him through a lifetime of dreams and adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593318607
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/13/2024
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 45,516
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

About The Author
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS was born and raised in New York City. He has starred in forty movies, seven Broadway plays, and has made more than forty television shows and TV movies combined. He lives in Los Angeles.
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