(A dispatch from Mount Vernon’s First Person Interpretation Unit)
… well, not literally. However, the First Person Unit has indeed added a new character to engage Mount Vernon’s guests: William “Billy” Lee, General Washington’s trusted and longtime enslaved Valet – and the first slave freed by Washington’s will.
The new character is played by former Williamsburg Actor-Interpreter Willie Wright, who was drawn to the role by the interesting possibilities offered in portraying such a longtime companion to the General. As Mr. Wright explains, “Billy Lee will be able to offer unexpected and intimate glimpses into George Washington the man. As both a slave and a companion who rode by the General’s side through the Revolution, he has a unique point of view.”
K. Ken Johnston, Managing Director of First Person Interpretation, is extremely pleased to have been able to cast Mr. Wright: “Having worked with Willie before, I knew he would bring to the role dedication, professionalism, and a personal warmth necessary for such an important character. He has a background in interpreting the enslaved of the 18th century that is needed to play Billy Lee properly.”
Mr. Wright and Mr. Johnston are especially looking forward to building visitors’ knowledge of General Washington. “The more we ourselves discovered during the rehearsal process, the more we wanted to share with our guests,” states Mr. Johnston.
Willie Wright performs as Billy Lee daily at Mount Vernon, Sundays through Thursdays.
Visit our website to learn more about Mount Vernon’s popular and expanding first-person interpretive programming!