Why Shrinking Star Jessica Williams Isn't Gunning for Trevor Noah's Daily Show Job: 'I Really Love Acting'

jessica williams; 2023 Winter TCA - "Shrinking" Portrait Session, Pasadena, United States - 18 Jan 2023
jessica williams; 2023 Winter TCA - "Shrinking" Portrait Session, Pasadena, United States - 18 Jan 2023

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

There's one full circle Hollywood moment Jessica Williams has ruled out.

The actress, whose career was launched as a Daily Show correspondent 13 years ago, says there's a primary reason she's not looking to fill the anchor seat Trevor Noah vacated in December.

As famous faces like Al Franken, Chelsea Handler, Leslie Jones and Marlon Wayans step in as rotating guest hosts, Williams tells PEOPLE she's focused on a different path.

"I'm really happy with where my career is going," says Williams, who appears opposite Harrison Ford and Jason Segel in AppleTV+'s  new therapy comedy Shrinking and has carved out a career in movies like Olivia Wilde's Booksmart, The Incredible Jessica James, two Fantastic Beasts films and the HBO Max series Love Life.

"I really, really love acting," the 33-year-old star continues. "There's something really special about it. I light up doing it and feel like I'm mining my own personal life and experiences and world on camera. And doing that in a scripted way is really fun. It feels almost like, in between action and cut, I just get to escape and go to a different world and just play this game and be present on set."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - jessica williams
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - jessica williams

Comedy Central /Photofest

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Williams was just 22 and living at home with her parents while attending California State University Long Beach when she became the first Black female correspondent on The Daily Show, then hosted by Jon Stewart.

"Ever since my first day at The Daily Show, my life changed and my trajectory changed," she says. "I learned so much about myself. Being on The Daily Show was like finishing college, because I never finished college. And I learned a lot by watching the writers work together [and] watching Jon Stewart."

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Stewart was even Williams' first celebrity guest when she adapted her popular podcast 2 Dope Queens with friend Phoebe Robinson into a series of eight HBO comedy specials that aired between 2018 and 2019. She calls him "one of the best bosses ever."

"A lot of things made Jon a great boss, but he's just a nice man and was always willing to bank on the unknown. And when he hired me, I was really green - I hadn't had any real experience on late night, but he just hired me on raw talent and what I was capable of," she says.

Shrinking jessica williams jason segel 2023
Shrinking jessica williams jason segel 2023


RELATED: 'I Am My Ancestors' Dream': Read Jessica Williams' Moving Speech from the Chelsea Handler-Led Women's March at Sundance

But Williams no longer feels the need to add her voice to the current political climate. Instead, acting allows her to tap into her own life experiences and hardships, which in recent years included the loss of a longtime boyfriend and a painful endometriosis diagnosis.

"Shrinking is about people going through different stages and versions of grief and connecting with each other and figuring it out along the way. And it really is about leaning on each other and finding that sweet spot where life can be, at the same time, happy and sad and devastating and funny and sexy and silly and weird all at the same time," she says.

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Off-camera, Williams, who has since relocated back to Los Angeles, has found joy in organizing board game nights with friends, exploring her Nigerian roots and spending quality time with family.

"I need to figure out how to make jollof rice. And I need to take my 5- and 6-year-old nieces and nephews to Medieval Times," she says. "For me, it's about finding balance and making sure my entire identity isn't invested in my career."