Michelle Williams (second from left) appeared in a Christian Youth Theater production of “Tom Sawyer” in 1990.
Carla Williams raised a daughter her way – a comfortable North County home, elementary and middle school at Solana Beach's Santa Fe Christian where, according to its credo, “the Bible is the standard upon which the educational program is based,” and acting classes at the “family entertainment ” - oriented Christian Youth Theater.
By the time her precociously talented daughter reached ninth grade, Williams was driving her north on Interstate 5 to Hollywood nearly every day for auditions.
Now, Michelle Williams is 25, a mom herself and an Academy Award nominee in the supporting actress category for “Brokeback Mountain,” which earned eight Oscar nods in all. The ceremony will be broadcast at 5 p.m. Sunday on KGTV/Channel 10.
A provocative film about two cowboys in Wyoming whose friendship becomes a romance, “Brokeback Mountain” is a long way from the rigorous religious precepts of Santa Fe Christian and the G-rated productions of “The Sound of Music” at CYT. Nevertheless, Carla Williams is ecstatic about her daughter's success: “She's sweet, she has a heart, I'm so proud of her.”
Not so proud is Santa Fe Christian headmaster Jim Hopson. “We don't want to have anything to do with her in relation to that movie,” said Hopson, who turned down a request from a Union-Tribune reporter to visit the school and chat with students about the movies and one of their own being up for an Academy Award.
“Michelle doesn't represent the values of this institution. We would not approve of her movies and TV shows (including the teen drama “Dawson's Creek”). We'd not like to be tied to 'Brokeback Mountain.'
“I hope we offered her something in life. But she made the kinds of choices of which we wouldn't approve. 'Brokeback Mountain' basically promotes a lifestyle we don't promote. It's not the word of God.”
Carla Williams was nestled in an office at Christian Community Theater 's headquarters in El Cajon (CYT is a component of CCT) with her friends Sheryl and Paul Russell, who founded the organization 25 years ago. They listened quietly as Hopson's words were read to them.
Michelle Williams received an Oscar nod for her work in "Brokeback Mountain."
“He never knew her,” said Williams, with a lovingly assembled scrapbook of Michelle in front of her. “For some people, 'Brokeback Mountain' is difficult. He has the right to his opinion.”
Some Santa Fe Christian staff and faculty members, Williams said, have called to congratulate her and Michelle. One longtime school employee told her, “You tell Michelle how much I love her.”
Carla Williams can deal with her daughter's critics. “I know her heart, her kind soul,” she said. “Nothing she's done as an actress has bothered me.”
Williams, 50, is wary of the media. She was incensed at a snarky caption with a photo that the Union-Tribune ran in January of Michelle's dress in its Golden Globes coverage. It said, “Hits and Misses – Color, Bad: Michelle Williams flopped in a crinkled, tiered purple prairie gown gone wrong.”
“Of all things, why did they have to criticize her dress?” she said. “Who cares what somebody looks like? It's what's in their soul, their goodness, that's important. I saw my daughter that night. She was a princess.”
She'll also see her daughter on Oscar night, baby-sitting 4-month-old Matilda, while Michelle and fiancé Heath Ledger (nominated for “Brokeback Mountain” in the actor category) attend the ceremony in Los Angeles.
“I get the best job,” Grandma Williams said.
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