• Allison Williams from HBO's Girls
Courtesy HBO

On her hit HBO show, Girls, Allison Williams finds the way to womanhood is filled with uncertainty.

Yes, her dad is NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. But as Allison Williams  has proven on HBO’s buzzed-about show Girls, she’s much more than a daddy’s girl. The recent Yale grad, who got her big break on YouTube, loves both the highbrow (she’s a longtime subscriber to The Atlantic) and the less-highbrow (she watches Bachelor Pad). As Girls returns for its second season, the 24-year-old beauty chatted with American Way about comparisons, similarities and motivations.

American Way: Girls often draws comparisons to Sex and the City. Do you think that’s fair?
Allison Williams: I think, like Sex and the City, the broader themes in Girls are so relatable — feeling lost, friendships morphing over time, falling in and out of love. Who is right for me? What am I passionate about? Am I good at what I’m passionate about? Can I make a living doing what I’m passionate about? I think David Brooks
  • Allison Williams from HBO's Girls
Jason McDonald
called it the Odyssey Years, where we’re searching and soul-searching and finding out what makes us happy. There’s this whole group of people that can intensely identify with that.

AW: How much are you like your character, Marnie?
Williams: I read the script, and any time there was a scene with Marnie in it, I knew that I understood this person. But the general goal was to make sure she was nuanced and surprising and that her struggles were unique to her but still relatable on a larger scale.

AW: You graduated from Yale with a degree in English. Why did you go into acting?
Williams: There was always an innate desire to play make-believe in my childhood. One week I’d be every character in Mary Poppins. Another, it would be Peter Pan. When I grew to an age when make-believe became inappropriate, I just didn’t stop.

AW: How did your breakthrough on YouTube happen?
Williams: I thought the theme song of Mad Men would be really beautiful with lyrics, and “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole fit perfectly. I got some press on the Huffington Post about it, and Judd Apatow saw it and called my agent.

AW: That sounds like it could be a storyline on Girls.
Williams: Every day, I’ll have at least one moment where I look around and I just can’t believe where I am. And it makes me very emotional because it just as easily could not have happened. If Judd hadn’t gone to Huffington Post that day — I mean, who knows? It’s fortuitous.