Alumni Profiles

Vivian Nixon Williams ’02

“I was surrounded by creative people and an arts culture that definitely informs what I do today.”
Classmates will remember Vivian as an accomplished dancer who joined Crossroads in seventh grade and then spent several years at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. She returned for her junior and senior years and was involved in the Crossroads dance program as well as dance training outside of school. “My biggest takeaway from Crossroads was the social and emotional experience, and how tapping into that influences artists,” she said. “Teaching students to allow themselves to be open and vulnerable is a huge asset of the program and has been valuable in many areas of my life.”

After graduation, Vivian studied dance in the prestigious Ailey/ Fordham BFA program. During her senior year, she was cast as the lead in the Broadway musical “Hot Feet.” She went on to perform in theater and on television, gradually making the transition from dancing to acting. “It wasn’t easy,” she acknowledged. “People don’t always think dancers can do other things.” She honed her craft in acting programs in New York and LA and appeared in films including “(500) Days of Summer” and “Top Five” and many television series, including “Glee,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19.”

These days, Vivian continues to work as a producer, director, choreographer and actor, voicing animated characters such as Millie on the web series “Helluva Boss.” She serves as the associate artistic director of Debbie Allen Dance Academy. (Debbie Allen is Vivian’s mother and a legendarily multi-hyphenate talent in her own right.) Vivian was a choreographer and creative consultant on Tyler Perry’s upcoming documentary “Six Triple Eight” (about the only all-Black, all-female battalion in World War II) and on various Mariah Carey tour performances. Earlier this year, she and husband Jazzston Williams launched the film and multimedia production company Will the World. Vivian still carries the enriching environment of Crossroads with her. “I was so inspired by my talented peers: musicians, dancers, actors,” she recalled. “I was surrounded by creative people and an arts culture that definitely informs what I do today.”