Jama Williamson

Jama Williamson
Born (1974-03-12) March 12, 1974[1]
Evansville, Indiana
Occupation Actress
Years active 1998–present

Jama Williamson (born March 12, 1974 in Evansville, Indiana) is an American actress. She was active in New York City theater throughout the early 2000s, during which she appeared in such shows as Avery Crozier's Eat the Runt, Hunt Holman's Spanish Girl, A. R. Gurney's Sylvia and Simon Mendes da Costa's Losing Louis. She also appeared in an Off Broadway musical adaptation of the pornographic film Debbie Does Dallas, and she is featured in the show's original cast recording soundtrack.

Williamson has appeared in such shows as Law & Order, Numb3rs and Chappelle's Show, and her voice was featured in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In 2005, Williamson was cast as the wife of James Van Der Beek in the CBS sitcom pilot Three, which was ultimately not picked up. Since 2009, she has made regular guest appearances on the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation as Wendy Haverford, the ex-wife of regular character Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari.



Jama Williamson was active in New York City theater throughout the early 2000s, during which time she was represented by the Paradigm Talent Agency.[2] In 2000, she appeared in Eat the Runt, a comedy by Avery Crozier about a job applicant's series of bizarre interviews at an art museum. During this production, by Mefisto Theater Company at Altered Stages, the actors had to be prepared to play every role in the play and, before each show, the audience Drew tickets which determined what actors play which characters. The New York Times reviewer Lawrence Van Gelder said the gimmick was novel, but in the end, "the cast has probably had more sustained fun than the audience".[3] In the summer of 2001, Williamson again appeared in Eat the Runt at The American Place Theatre, this time without the constant role switching. She played a second applicant trying to get the museum job, who claims the protagonist is actually her scorned love interest who is only pretending to seek the job in order to hurt her chances.[4][5] In the summer of 2002, she appeared in an Off Broadway production of Hunt Holman's Spanish Girl at the Second Stage Theatre. The show was about a college student who had a summer fling relationship with a 15-year-old girl, then tries to end it. Williamson played Jolene, the strong-willed college girlfriend of the protagonist, who does not know about his affair.[6] New York Daily News writer Robert Dominguez praised her "strong performance".[7] Marjorie Gunner of New York Voice called Williamson a scene-stealer, and said she played the role "like the center of gravity".[8]

Jama Williamson appeared in the 2002 Off Broadway stage musical adaption of the 1978 pornographic film Debbie Does Dallas, which was shown at the Jane Street Theater starting October 2002. She played Roberta, one of Debbie's attractive young friends who perform sexual services for money.[9] Williamson, along with other female members of the cast, was praised by The New York Times theater critic Bruce Weber as "for lack of a better word, adorable", and appeared to be "having great fun while they wait for better jobs".[10] During the show, she performs a sexually-themed duet called "Make That Candle Work for You", in which Roberta and her boss sing at the candle store where Roberta works. During the song, girls dance with candles shaped like erect penises.[11][12] The song was sung by Williamson in the Debbie Does Dallas Original Cast Recording soundtrack, which was released on compact disc in 2003. Her singing voice, along with those of the rest of the cast, was praised in a Los Angeles Times review.[13] From October to November 2003, Williamson played the title role in Sylvia, a comedy by A. R. Gurney, at Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The show was about a dog (played by a human) named Sylvia who is adopted by a couple, which creates drama in their relationship. Irene Backalenick of the Connecticut Post said of Williamson's performance, "Jama Williamson is just not doggy enough, playing it more like a petulant teen-ager. She is really convincing as Sylvia the dog only when she lies down, putting her chin on Greg's knee."[14]

Starting in October 2006, Williamson played Bella Holland, the office assistant and mistress of a married man, in a production of the English Simon Mendes da Costa play Losing Louis, which played at the Manhattan Theatre Club.[15][16] The show opened with a controversial scene in which the protagonist performs oral sex on Williamson's character while his six-year-old son hides under the bed.[17][18] The show received largely negative reviews,[19][20][21] Williamson herself received mixed critiques. The New York Times writer Charles Isherwood said Williamson was one of the stronger cast members, but added, "the actors cannot do much to freshen the coarse innuendoes or breathe life into the plot contrivances".[22] Elysa Gardner, of USA Today, said Williamson added "dynamic support" to the show.[23] North Jersey Media Group critic Robert Feldberg, who was critical of the show, said her performance was amateurish and reminded him of "middling community theater." However, Feldberg said other more experienced actors were similarly bad in the show, so Williamson's faults can be blamed in part on the director.[24] Backstage said Williamson and other cast members "fail to register in any credible way".[25]


Williamson has appeared in several television shows, including the NBC legal drama Law & Order and the Comedy Central sketch comedy series Chappelle's Show, starring Dave Chappelle. She also appeared as a jogger in the 2005 independent comedy drama film Duane Hopwood,[26] and provided voices for pedestrian characters in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.[27] Starting in the mid-2000s, Williamson began appearing more frequently in television. In 2005, Williamson was cast as one of the three leads in a CBS Paramount Network Television pilot for the sitcom Three, in which she played Annie, the wife of a character played by James Van Der Beek. The show revolved around the happily married couple and their recently divorced male friend, played by Zachary Levi. The pilot was never sold.[2][28]

In early 2007, Williamson gave an appearance in a pilot episode of the sitcom Rules of Engagement. Although the series was picked up by CBS, the episode featuring Williamson never aired.[29] Williamson appeared in "Democracy", a third season episode of the CBS drama series Numb3rs, which originally aired on March 9, 2007. In the episode, she played Jane Aliano, a woman who gets kidnapped as the result of a voter fraud conspiracy that led to a series of murders throughout the episode.[30]

Starting in May 2009, Williamson began making regular appearances in the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation as Wendy Haverford, the wife of regular character Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari.[31] Wendy is an attractive and well-liked surgeon, and many in the show wonder why she is interested in the sarcastic and overeager Tom. It is eventually revealed the two characters have a green card marriage to prevent Wendy from being deported to Canada.[32][33] Williamson first appeared in the first season finale "Rock Show", but made regular appearances throughout the second season. Wendy and Tom amicably separate after the December 2009 episode "Tom's Divorce",[34] but she continued to make appearances afterward.[35][36]

Williamson portrayed, Nora the mother of Loren Tate (Brittany Underwood), on the 2012 TeenNick series Hollywood Heights. In 2016, Williamson played the recurring role of Principal Mullins on the Nickelodeon comedy series School of Rock; her role was upped to series regular for the series' second season.[37]


  1. "birthday @jamawilliamson since:2013-03-12 until:2013-03-14 - Twitter Search". Twitter.com. March 3, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  2. 1 2 Andreeva, Nellie (April 21, 2005). "Van Oy and Dunn get a 'Life' at ABC; Bateman in 'Show'; Pilot Watch". Back Stage West. 12 (17): 12. ISSN 1531-572X.
  3. Gelder, Lawrence Van (July 11, 2000). "Theater Review; The House Lights Dim: So Who's Playing Which Role This Time?". The New York Times. p. E5.
  4. Dominguez, Robert (June 7, 2001). "8 Actors in Search of 7 Roles". New York Daily News. p. 46.
  5. "One vote against 'Runt'". The Star-Ledger. June 16, 2001. p. 33.
  6. Gates, Anita (July 31, 2002). "Theater review; Summer Camp Brought More Than He Bargained For". The New York Times. p. E4.
  7. Dominguez, Robert (August 2, 2002). "An Entertaining School for Scandal". New York Daily News. p. 63.
  8. Gunner, Marjorie (November 13, 2002). "On and Off Broadway". New York Voice Inc. 44 (31): 18.
  9. Winship, Frederick M. (December 3, 2002). "Debbie does off Broadway as well as Dallas". United Press International.
  10. Weber, Bruce (October 30, 2002). "Theater Review; Cheerleaders Put the Fun in Fund-Raising". The New York Times. p. E1.
  11. McCarter, Jeremy (October 30, 2002). "Dirty Blondes". The New York Sun. p. 10.
  12. Isherwood, Charles (October 30, 2002). "Debbie Does Dallas". Variety. p. 16.
  13. Nichols, David C. (March 9, 2003). "Recordings; 'Music Man' doesn't miss a beat with Broderick". Los Angeles Times. p. 46.
  14. Backalenick, Irene (October 9, 2003). "Dog's Life at Playhouse on the Green; Theater review". Connecticut Post.
  15. Rooney, David (October 13, 2006). "Losing Louie". Variety. p. 69.
  16. Kuchwara, Michael (October 12, 2006). "2 generations deal with sexual indiscretion in 'Losing Louie'". Associated Press.
  17. Dziemianowicz, Joe (October 14, 2006). "'Losing' is Lousy. New B'way play is a comedy of eras with few laughs". New York Daily News. p. 53.
  18. Johnson, Malcolm (October 13, 2006). "Sex, death, secrets made dull; A lively cast can't bring 'Losing Louie' to Life". Hartford Courant. p. D3.
  19. Mehlman, Barbara (November 10, 2006). "Dylan-infused musical, 'Losing Louie' disappoint". Poughkeepsie Journal. p. 18I.
  20. Shapiro, Howard (October 15, 2006). "'Louie' a losing proposition". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. H05.
  21. "Two brothers come together in 'Losing Louie'". Daily Record. October 13, 2006. p. 17.
  22. Isherwood, Charles (October 13, 2006). "Dad Had Adultery; the Son Is Stuck With Adulthood". The New York Times. p. E2. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  23. Gardner, Elysa (October 13, 2006). "Entertaining 'Louie' is by no means a loss". USA Today. p. 7E.
  24. Feldberg, Robert (October 13, 2006). "Can we deport a play?; British show flouts laws of good drama". The Record. p. G22.
  25. Sheward, David (October 19, 2006). "Losing Louie: Manhattan Theatre Club at the Biltmore Theatre". Back Stage East. 47 (42): 10.
  26. "Jama Williamson - Trailer - Showtimes - Cast - Movies & TV". The New York Times.
  27. "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Credits". MobyGames. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  28. "Justine Bets on UPN". The New York Post. April 16, 2005. p. 85.
  29. "Primetime network television". Ross Reports Television & Film. 59 (1): 46–55. January 1, 2007. ISSN 1520-7722.
  30. "Charlie suspects that a series of murders are tied to a voter fraud conspiracy, on a rebroadcast of "Numb3rs," Friday, July 27" (Press release). CBS. July 27, 2007.
  31. Schur, Michael (2009). Parks and Recreation: Season One: "Rock Show" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
  32. Fowler, Matt (October 9, 2009). "Parks and Recreation: "The Practice Date" Review". IGN. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  33. Pierce, Leonard (December 10, 2009). "Parks and Recreation: "Christmas Scandal"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  34. Sepinwall, Alan (December 4, 2009). "Parks and Recreation, "The Fourth Floor": Tom's divorce". The Star-Ledger. Newark, New Jersey. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  35. Gonzalez, Sandra (January 22, 2010). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: House party at Leslie's!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  36. Sepinwall, Alan (January 22, 2010). "Parks and Recreation, "Leslie's House": Dinner party run amok". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  37. Petski, Denise (April 12, 2016). "'School Of Rock': Jama Williamson Upped To Regular On Nickelodeon Music Comedy Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 4, 2016.

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