A Star Wars Icon Is Revealing Their Entire Life Story

By Robert Scucci | Updated

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

People reports that Billy Dee Williams is publishing a tell-all memoir about his life and career. Many of us know Williams for his portrayal of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, but he’s done so much more with his career as an artist and actor, both on stage, and on the big screen.

Billy Dee Williams, best known for his Star Wars role as Lando Calrissian is releasing a tell-all memoir

In his memoir, entitled What Have We Here?, the 86-year-old actor will walk us through his life, and his uncanny ability to overcome adversity in the entertainment industry while maintaining a positive attitude.

Billy Dee Williams Before Star Wars

Long before Star Wars, Billy Dee Williams was already a man of many talents. He took to the stage as a child, and during this time he discovered his affinity to the visual arts. As a teenager, his talent was recognized, and he was even nominated for a Guggenheim Fellowship as a teenager while attending The High School of Music & Art.

His portrayal of Chicago Bears star player Gale Sayers in Brian’s Song was one of Williams’ proudest accomplishments.

Billy Dee Williams eventually pivoted to a full-time acting career when he starred in the 1959 Paul Muni movie, The Last Angry Man. It was during this time that Paul Muni inspired Williams to relentlessly pursue the roles he wanted to play even though the industry was very much dominated by white men taking on lead roles during this time.

Though Billy Dee Williams experienced frustration in the 1960s over this exact obstacle, he saw his rise to stardom after starring in the 1971 made-for-TV movie, Brian’s Song. Williams has stated that his portrayal of Chicago Bears star player Gale Sayers in Brian’s Song was one of his proudest accomplishments.

His Emmy Award-nominated performance propelled his career to new heights, and Williams became one of the most well-known black film actors of the 1970’s.

Billy De Williams in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

But Billy Dee Williams didn’t stop breaking racial barriers with his immense talent after Brian’s Song. 1980 brought Williams into the Star Wars franchise, and he became the first black character with his contribution to 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, an iconic role that he would reprise in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and once again in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker.

And we’re glad he landed this role, because his chemistry with Harrison Ford‘s Hans Solo was instrumental in carrying the story forward during the original Star Wars trilogy.

It goes without question that Billy Dee Williams’ charisma made him such a force to be reckoned with throughout his long and decorated career. Not only does he take his many talents seriously, his editor Victoria Wilson says that his love for life, and his fun personality are what will truly draw readers into the life-story that he’s celebrating with his memoir.

In his own words, Williams stated that he’s been fortunate enough to be let into the lives of so many unique individuals, and he wants to reciprocate by letting people into his life as well.

Billy Dee Williams’s memoir, What Have We Here? is slated for a February 13, 2024 publication, and we absolutely cannot wait to hear his entire life story in his own words. If he’s willing to relive some of his most cherished memories, then it goes without question that we’re ready to read about them.

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