RSVP Montgomery

"All the World's a Stage..."


Ashley Whittle Tiedt

“...And it’s people merely players.” It’s not just a Shakespearean quote, it’s a way of life for Catherine “Cat” Williams. The Montgomery native and Montgomery Academy alumna grew up in Montgomery Children’s Theater, headed by John and Lorna Bell, and took that passion with her to college, the Big Apple and the City of Angels. But when the curtain closed on her time in theater a new stage appeared: The Internet. 

Williams’ flare for the dramatic started in children’s theater. She learned to love and relish the spotlight and decided she would make a career of it. Her mentality was “Hit me with the spotlight and watch me dance.” She spent her freshman year at Southern Methodist University and, because of what she describes as sheer boredom, soon transferred to the Boston Conservatory of Music, but not before coming home to be presented to society in the Blue Gray Colonels Ball. Williams said, “I loved every moment. I love a stage, I love a spotlight and I love any kind of gown. I thought it was great, great fun. Nobody had to push me into it. I loved the pomp and circumstance and the production of it, it was great theater.” 
Williams eventually left The Boston Conservatory of Music for the bright lights of Broadway. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied with the Atlantic Theater Company, an Off Broadway Company. Upon graduation, she began making her way as first an actress and then an assistant and associate director. 
After some time on Broadway, Williams decided she needed a break to pursue new andexciting opportunities. However, she found that a theater resume doesn’t always translate into what most would call a “normal job.” Williams said, “I did apply for some ‘normal jobs’ and handed people a resume full of my theater credits...and basically people just said, ‘well this is wonderful, so you’ve never worked?’ And I’m thinking that’snot true. Whatever you can do, I can do better because I’ve had to do it standing on my face, with my eyes closed, 16 hours a day, six days a week.” Not to be deterred, Williams used her connections to land a job with a magazine across the country in Los Angeles. 
Williams needed a fresh start, and so did the fashion magazine GENLUX. GENLUX wanted to expand into a philanthropic direction, they were looking for a philanthropy editor and Williams knew that she could fit the bill. She currently serves as the philanthropy editor for the magazine, interviews socialite philanthropists, and writes a “Shop for a Cause” column. Additionally, she attends fashion week, charity events and store openings for the Beverly Hills­based publication. While she enjoys writing for the magazine, she missed the excitement of the entertainment industry and needed a new stage. In 2014, she decided to start a blog of sorts and named it, The Retired Debutante. “It started as a lark, utterly as a lark,” she said. Initially there were the basic “how tos” and “what to buys,” but she also added in the element of humor and entertainment. “I used to write a Fashion Police­style commentary after different award shows and it started to gain some momentum,” she said. Over time, Williams eliminatedthe “how tos” and “what to buys” and focused on the humor.
In October of 2017, The Retired Debutante was relaunched with a new look and focus. The name came from a makeup bag found in a small junk store. “It was a great title. It’s who we are. We were debutantes and then we retired from being debutantes, and so the title came from that.” Williams bought one for herself and one for her oldest Montgomery friend and fellow retired debutante, Martha Ellen Hill Heuermann. Heuermann used her makeup bag, but Williams has hers in a glass case in LA. Heuermann sends Williams pictures of the makeup bag every so often to let her know she still has it and is holding fast to their title. 
With the reboot, the blog has morphed into a professional entertainment website. “It’s purely an entertainment website now. I am not capable of curing rampant disease, I can’t even cook dinner. I was once sent a Blue Apron box by a friend who was certain she could coax me into learning how to cook. Joke’s on her though, I managed to set the box and half of its contents on fire. It didn’t make for much of a dinner but it made fora sensational story. One thing I am good at is telling a great story and I am happy to be the butt of my own jokes. I have to order out to eat.” 
The website revamp will focus on the writing and, as Williams says, “utterly throwing myself under the bus.” If you’re looking for a website to teach you how to give a manicure, look elsewhere. But if you want to see embarrassing childhood photos and read funny anecdotes, you are in the right place. The stories are light and humorous and focus on the “stupid things” she does. “I am nothing if not a master of messing up. And everyone can relate to that. It’s also about the funny dichotomy of my own personality. On one hand, I am well mannered and perfectly proper. On the other, I’m eating ketchup as a snack and falling off my stilettos. Am I the only person who believesketchup is a food group? I don’t think so.” 
Williams hopes that the new and improved website will build a following. She is working with Atlanta­based Prisk Design to help develop the social media aspect of the website as well as the branding. “It’s a work in progress, but isn’t everything? It’s about creating content that people want to read and will continue to follow,” she said. Williams says she is writing to her fellow Southern woman, “women who grew up in the South, in citiesor in rural places because they get what I’m talking about. We may not be exactly the same, but there is a commonality between all Southern women.” She also writes to connect with those who are fascinated by the South, the ones who are curious about the way we live. “We all share similar challenges,” Williams says, speaking of women who are both from and not from the South, “people want to laugh and be taken away from whatever they are dealing with: children, work, a stressful home life. Everyone needs a good laugh. It’s a wonderful escape even for 30 seconds.”

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