Allison Williams

Allison Williams landed the role of Marnie Michaels on HBO’s ‘Girls’ soon after college, and it propelled her into the spotlight.


The daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, Allison Williams was born on April 13, 1988, in Hartford, Connecticut. She attended Yale University and soon after graduation landed a juicy role on the new HBO series Girls. The show took off, and Williams found herself a part of a national obsession. With appearances on The Mindy Project on her resume as well, Williams has been building screen presence, most recently starring in the title role of the NBC presentation of Peter Pan Live, a musical watched by more than 9 million viewers.

Early Years

Allison Williams was born on April 13, 1988, in Hartford, Connecticut, to NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and Jane Gillan Stoddard, a TV producer. She was raised in New Canaan, an upscale town situated on the Long Island Sound, and attended Greenwich Academy, an all-girls prep school in nearby Greenwich. Williams then went to Yale University, where she was a member of an improv comedy troupe called Just Add Water for all four of her years in New Haven.

Joins Cast of 'Girls'

Williams graduated with a degree in English in 2010, the same year she appeared in a YouTube video in which she sang Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy.” Her version had a big twist, though: The song was set to RJD2’s “A Beautiful Mine,” the theme song for TV’s Mad Men. The rendition racked up more than a million hits through early 2015. More importantly, the clip was brought to the attention of filmmaker Judd Apatow, a family friend and the executive producer of a show HBO was creating called Girls. Soon Williams was auditioning for a role. Crediting her Just Add Water experience, Williams landed the role of Marnie Michaels, the pretty foil for Lena Dunham’s Hannah Hovarth. Girls premiered on April 15, 2012, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

Williams says she had wanted to be an actress since she was a little girl, and landing the role straight out of college was a huge step into the heart of her dream.

“I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was 4,” she has said. “I just feel lucky to be making a living doing what I love. I have always held that as the standard for happiness… and it feels as good as I always imagined it.”  

Other Roles 

Before Girls added Williams’s name to mainstream consciousness, she wrote a series of Funny or Die sketches called Will & Kate: Before Happily Ever After, in which she appeared as Kate Middleton. She has also made appearances on the TV sitcom The Mindy Project (2013) and in the film College Musical (2014). Also in 2014, Williams took on the title role in NBC's presentation of the musical Peter Pan Live, a show watched by more than 9 million viewers.  

Personal Life and Family Controversy

Williams had been planning nuptials to her longtime beau Ricky Van Veen. The wedding was reportedly postponed however upon Williams receiving the Peter Pan project and then supporting father Brian Williams, who was suspended from NBC in February 2015 over false statements made in relation to war coverage. "One thing the experience has not done is shake my trust and belief in him as a man. He's a really good man," Williams said of her father in a talk with Seth Meyers at New York's 92nd Street Y. "He cares so much about journalism. And yes, he's a really good dad." Williams and Van Veen tied the knot on September 19, 2015 at a ranch in Wyoming.

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