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The last time Malinda Williams was on your television screen, it was probably as “Bird” on Showtime’s hit series Soul Food. The veteran actress is stepping onto new ground, however, as co-host of a new talk show on the brand new ASPiRE network. As one of the first programs on the network, “Exhale” will also feature journalist Angela Burt-Murray, comedians Erin Jackson and Issa Rae, and television anchor Rene Syler as co-hosts of a show focused on issues that matter most to black women. Madame Noire caught up with Williams recently to discuss what she’s been up to, why she thinks “Exhale” will change lives and the hot topics she can’t wait to discuss.

Madame Noire:  What made you want to make the jump from acting to hosting a talk show?

Malinda Williams: It’s actually pretty funny. It’s the most unorthodox way I ever got a job. I made a connection with a woman on Twitter. We followed each other and one day she sent me a direct message saying was an aspiring producer and wanted some advice. We went back and forth, but at some point 140 characters wasn’t enough and I gave her my email. One day she sent me a message saying she knew a woman that was looking for an actress to help host for a new talk series. They first person she thought of was me. It ‘s great to tell the story because we often think that everything has to be a certain way but there are no rules. Also, I’m at a point in my life and career that I feel I have something from my experience to share with others.

MN: What helped you reach that level of comfort to confidently share your experiences?

MW: It was family that helped get me there and my really close girlfriends. I went through a divorce a coupe years back. In going through that, there were women [who] reached out to me to lend me support. They held me up and kept me confident so, when I came out on the other side, I was able to feel 100 percent my self again. I realized the importance of reaching out to other women. When this came opportunity came, I felt like I had to do it.

And it’s not new for me to express myself. I grew up with sisters and we’ve always been very open with each other. When I first moved to LA and my sisters weren’t there, I developed strong sister-friendships because I needed that. When I got the opportunity to do this show, I knew it would be healing because we’re sharing our personal stories and people will know they’re not alone in going through what they’re going through.

MN: Can you speak to the importance of diversifying, or having a few irons in the fire professionally?

MW: Here’s one thing I know: The world is changing daily. If you don’t know by now, the web has changed the game – every game. It’s changed everyone’s business. So I feel like if you’re not staying current and watching the changes in business, you’ll be left behind. As an entertainer, I have to meet people where they are. I’ll meet you in the theater, in your office, in your living room.

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