Billy Dee Williams Opens Up About Gender Fluid Identity, Sees Himself as ‘Feminine as Well as Masculine’

Billy Dee Williams attends the Premiere Of Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” - Arrivals on May 10, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

At 82 years old, Billy Dee Williams is not only making moves as an iconic actor but as an iconic person.

In his recent feature interview for Esquire, Williams opened up about the ways in which he expresses his own gender identity.

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“And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” Williams confirmed. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

Writer Matt Miller then mentioned Donald Glover, who portrays the younger version of Williams’ character Lando Calrissian in Solo (2018) and discussed the character’s gender fluidity during the film’s press tour.

“Really? That kid is brilliant—just look at those videos,” Williams replied.

There are two major things that stick out to me, in terms of significance. Anything deemed as feminine is thought of as inherently inferior (we’ve all heard the word “pussy” used as a pejorative when we all know it’s actually the most brolic body part in these streets) which is ridiculous and unfounded. Williams, who has portrayed some of the most hyper-masculine characters in black history, knows his masculinity isn’t threatened simply by the existence of femininity. Quite the contrary, he is actually enhanced by tapping into both parts of himself.

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Additionally, sexual and gender fluidity has existed since forever, despite the “gay agenda” brigade promoting otherwise. This concept of non-binary identity is far from some newfangled millennial invention and Williams, an octogenarian, is just one example of that.

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Most importantly, being able to embrace your identity, whether it is within the gender binary spectrum or not, is a beautiful thing.

Williams cites his performance as Gale Sayers in the 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song, as his proudest. His portrayal earned him an Emmy nomination. “It was a love story, really. Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division,” Williams recalled.

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Overall, other than his remarkable talent, what makes Williams great is that he is steadfastly himself and is fully confident in that.

“I never tried to be anything except myself,” Williams noted. “I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

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Williams will be reprising his role as Lando in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will be released in theaters on Dec. 20.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.