ELLE Australia
SoftPower Image Credit: ELLE Australia
SoftPower Image Credit: ELLE Australia

Soft Power

IN AN AGE OF NOISE, NEWNESS AND INFORMATION OVERLOAD, ACTOR, MOTHER AND LOUIS VUITTON MUSE MICHELLE WILLIAMS EMBODIES A QUIET CONFIDENCE. FROM REBELLIOUS TEEN IN DAWSON’S CREEK TO BROADWAY DANCER IN THIS MONTH’S FOSSE/VERDON, SHE’S CARVED A CAREER MADE ENTIRELY ON HER OWN TERMS. AND WE LOVE HER FOR IT

Rachel Syme

IT’S NOT THAT SHE LOOKS DOWN ON IT – after all, her best mate, actor Busy Philipps, is such an expert at doing off-the-cuff Instagram Stories that she parlayed her 1.6 million followers into a book deal and a late-night talk show on E! – it’s that Williams just isn’t very good at it. “I haven’t figured out how to use [social media] as a source for my own good,” she says. “I haven’t figured out how to use it to find something inspiring or beautiful.” Instead, she relies on Philipps to text her the news of the day so she stays in the loop.

We’re sitting together early on a crisp autumn morning in New York City, sandwiched into a corner banquette inside the low-lit back room of the Marlton Hotel in Greenwich Village. Williams is nursing a cappuccino and wearing simple tailored high-waisted black trousers and a striped boat-neck jumper. With her pixie cut, she looks a bit Marcel Marceau meets Audrey Hepburn.

“I’m just not a techy person,” she continues. “I grew up on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau. They meant so much to me; they planted seeds and they’re sort of still there. Those seeds don’t really grow on the internet.” She pauses, grins and wrinkles her nose, realiz


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