Williams, an 18-year-old New Jersey native, has starred in local productions ranging from West Side Story to Seussical. In 2014, she was nominated in the best leading actress category at the Paper Mill Playhouse's annual Rising Star Awards.
NBC also announced that Tony nominee David Alan Grier (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess) will play the Cowardly Lion in the televised musical.
Tony winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) will stage the live production, which is based on Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown's Tony-winning stage version. Four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots) will contribute new material to Brown's book. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron serve as executive producers, with Universal Television producing. Full casting will be revealed in the coming months.
The Wiz, a retelling of L. Frank Baum's classic Wizard of Oz stories, opened on Broadway in 1975 and won seven Tonys including Best Musical and Best Score. A 1978 film version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. It was last seen in New York in a New York City Center Encores! Summer Stars revival in 2009, with a cast led by Ashanti, Orlando Jones, and Tony winner LaChanze.
The live television broadcast of The Wiz serves as the precursor to a Broadway revival, coproduced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division, in the 2016-2017 Broadway season.
Watch Williams learn that she got cast below: