About Alexis

Alexis Paige Williams is a multimedia journalist, a digital content producer, and an arts and entertainment enthusiast.

In May 2015, she earned a Master’s in Journalism and Public Affairs with a concentration in Broadcast from American University in her native, Washington, D.C. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Print Journalism with minors in Spanish and Religion from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2012.

Over the years, Alexis has perfected her writing skills at a number of publications and picked up social media marketing, digital content strategy, and video production skills following a series of marketing and communications internships.

Her work is featured on: ABCNews.go.com, Bustle.com, Vice.com, and WashingtonCityPaper.com.

Alexis is currently the associate producer at Washington Post Live.

Photography

On October 25, 2014, I attended the D.C. screening of “Advanced Style.” The documentary focuses on women 60+ who believe that style does not fade with age. The director, Lina Plioplyte, and one of the film’s stars, Debra Rapoport, allowed me to photograph them and learn more about the importance of acquiring and maintaining personal style.

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Listen to my long-form audio story about the “Advanced Style” documentary:

On October 17, 2014, I photographed the acclaimed D.C. drag queens at Town Danceboutique. Earlier that day, they participated in a photoshoot for The Washington Blade after learning they won “Best Drag Show” in D.C.

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The Talk of the Town: Lena Lett and the Ladies of Town Danceboutique

Photo Essay & Story by Alexis Williams

Sitting regally on a stool in a coat closet-turned-dressing room at Town Danceboutique, David “Lena” Lett removes his sky-high brunette wig. After their cabaret, his fellow drag performers at the popular D.C. gay bar episodically knock on his door to check in with him before heading home.

“I minister to them,” Lett says. “They’re part of my flock.”

The host of the weekly show has officiated over bass-bumping music beats to a devoted congregation of homosexuals for nine years.

“Scripture tells us that humor is as infectious as a disease, but unfortunately so is sin and sadness,” Lett says.

Behind his plum-painted, pursed lips hides a slightly chipped tooth. His physically abusive stepfather and former D.C. policeman left the battle wound. Lett says his scars allow him to empathize with the soldiers struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder that he counsels during the week through the Department of Defense.

“For me not to help in any way that I can with whatever gifts I have is completely selfish and sinful,” Lett says clutching his three-strand pearl necklace close to his chest.

Batting his false eyelashes, he recalls how three years in seminary school led him to a crossroads. As his ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood approached, Lett chose to leave Saint Thomas Seminary in Italy due to his hesitancy to remain chaste.

“There was just something inside of me that knew that I couldn’t take a promise that I wasn’t going to be able to keep,” Lett says.

Diocesan priests make promises of obedience to bishops and chastity to God. While he could not commit himself to the latter, Lett says a chance meeting with a drag queen at the American Red Cross helped him see that service and commitment came in many forms.

“At that point, [the gay community] had high disposable incomes, no children, all this money was building up,” Lett says. “And he saw that as an opportunity to start putting our money to uses that were effective to bring about change in the world. And it was in that process that I thought, ‘You know that’s kind of what the priesthood was trying to teach me all along.’”

Motivated by his grandmother’s steadfast faith in God, Lett returned to the seminary and was ordained on December 3, 2011 in front of his Town family.

“I said to all of my drag queen friends that if you’re coming to my ordination, don’t come as some boy in a suit. That’s not how I know you. I want you to come in full drag. So they did.”

Lett is now a priest in the Old Catholic Church of the Americas, a progressive group that split from the Roman Catholic Church over conflicting views of marriage and papal authority. He serves as a spiritual and supportive guide to those in the D.C. metropolitan area—including the cast and staff of Town.

“It’s a three-ring circus,” Lett says, “I’ve got to make sure that the DJ’s got what he needs, the entertainers got what they need, the crowd is either engaged or at least not being an obstacle to the entertainers…Priesthood is a lot like that…You never know what’s going to be thrown at you, but you have to remember you’re the vessel at that moment that God’s chosen to use to get that person to wherever they need to go. And you can’t turn your back on that kind of responsibility.”

Lett is particularly protective of Town legend, Jerry “Shi-queeta-Lee” Van Hook.

“She’s HIV-positive and she’s very, very sick and has been for quite a while,” Lett says. “We almost thought we lost her last year.”

On one occasion, after Van Hook cut a 13-minute performance short, Lett overheard a disgruntled customer call him a “lazy bitch.”

“You have not walked in her heels; you don’t know,” Lett says.

Van Hook has performed in drag for 18 years. He is perhaps best known for his impersonations of Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige. As a vocalist and actor, he participated in plays on and off Broadway, founded local beauty pageants and made special appearances in televisions shows such as, “Ugly Betty,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “The Wire.” Aside from Town, Van Hook hosts a weekly drag brunch at Nellie’s Sports Bar and advocates for HIV/AIDS campaigns. Most recently, he performed Diana Ross’s cover of the Gloria Gaynor classic, “I Will Survive,” at the Walk to End HIV. Despite his health issues, Van Hook uses as much of his enthusiasm and imagination as possible to bring his characters to life.

“You have to have a big personality,” Van Hook says. “You can’t be quiet; you can’t have a closed mouth. You have to be able to open up and be very excited, energetic and very creative.”

However, Lett says Van Hook is quite conscious of his mortality—a common sentiment the two discuss during trips to and from the hospital.

“I’ll sit with her for hours and we don’t talk about any drag,” Lett says. “We don’t talk about any drag queens. We talk about life; we talk about hopes and fears and her goals and what she’s got left that she wants to accomplish.”

Van Hook strives to impart his knowledge to his protégé or “drag daughter,” Riley “Epiphany B. Lee” Knoxx. As the only trans-woman performer at Town, Knoxx specializes in impersonating Beyoncé.

“Four years before I made my transition, I was already performing,” Knoxx says. “However, I do know for sure, that had I not become a woman, I still would have been an entertainer either way. Entertainment is the number one thing.”

At 16, Knoxx ran away from her home in Los Angeles to D.C. Although she says she never expected to be famous, she is comforted knowing Washingtonians embrace her for who she is.

“I did fight with a lot of people and fight a lot of things to be who I am but nothing stood in my way of me being myself more than me,” Knoxx says. “I just had to get out of my own way…to be brave enough to be this person.”

According to Lett, this introspection and self-affirming mantra is imperative because it counters stereotypes of drag queens as sissies hidden underneath a costume. Whether Lett is recognized in his priestly vestments or full drag regalia, he sees himself as a “work in progress.”

“It’s not about me being known; it’s about the mission getting done.”

Aside from hosting and aiding soldiers, he continues to deliver sacraments to the religious community at Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Centerville, Virginia and Saint’s Monica and James Episcopal church on Capitol Hill. With his girls by his side, Lett and the ladies of Town recently accepted the honor of “Best Drag Show” in DC by the Washington Blade. Lett’s infallible message of personal enrichment through unfiltered hilarity can be heard every Friday and Saturday at Town at 10:30 p.m.

Video

This is a collection of my latest video projects.

The Ascend Parent Advisors congratulate their fellow students who are parents for completing their postsecondary education.

A recent study by the Office of Revenue Analysis found that living in DC isn’t so expensive for young people. Alexis Williams has more on just how far money can go for millennials in the District.


Although DC is perhaps best known for its politics, the music scene in the Nation’s Capital is getting a lot of play down south. Alexis Williams has more on how one local band is putting DC’s signature sound on the main stage.


Sweet Briar College, one of four same-sex schools in Virginia, will shut down a the end of this academic year. Alexis Williams has more on why many are asking if there is still a place for women’s only institutions.


Black-owned businesses are booming in the D.C. Metropolitan area according to a new study. Alexis Williams reports from a local shop that found its sweet spot in Hyattsville.


This is my first video package. My partner Liz Whyte and I worked on it together during our second week of American University’s Journalism Boot Camp. After Forbes magazine named Washington, D.C. the “coolest city in America,” we took to the streets to see if natives and tourists agreed.

Online Clips

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D.C. Sports Superfan Walter Wiggins Has Been Pumping It Up for Decades

Earthquake Gets the Last Laugh with Legendary

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An IT Company Creates Strategic Partnership with Two-Generation Organization

Ohio State University’s ACCESS Collaborative Creates a 2Gen Solution to Help Student Parents Cope with COVID-19 Challenges

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Trap Karaoke Is ‘Soul Train’ for the Black Lives Matter Generation

Thirsty 4 P.O.P. Talk Consent, Partying, and Being Women at Carnival

Flatbush’s N.O.V.A. Knuckleheads Tell Us Why Carnival Is Crucial

Trumpeter Etienne Charles Connects Jazz and J’ouvert

A Queer Black Poet’s Quest for Liberation

The World’s Coolest Day Party Is Also a Safe Space for People of Color

A DC Mural Honors 16 African-American Heroes Throughout History

Ashley August Isn’t Afraid of Rejection

The Legacy of Mae Jemison, the First Black Woman to Travel Space

My Friend MLK ‘Died of a Broken Heart’

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The Documentary ‘Whose Streets’ Shows The Power of Activist Unity In Places Like Charlottesville & Ferguson

Amandla Stenberg’s Election Night Story Has An Eerie Connection To America Under Trump

Kendrick Lamar’s Openness About Facing His Emotions Is What Hip-Hop Needs

John Boyega Gets Asked About Race All The Time, But His White Coworkers Should Be Too

‘Detroit’s’ True Story of Police Brutality Is Just As Relevant Today As It Was In The ’60s

If You’re Only Focused On ‘4:44’s’ Commentary About Beyonce & JAY-Z’s Relationship, Then You’re Missing The Point

Gabourey Sidibe Celebrates Black Womanhood In Her Directorial Debut

Serena Williams’ ‘Vanity Fair’ Cover Is A Beautiful Show Of Strength — PHOTO

Solange’s 2017 BET Awards Speech Highlights The Importance Of Representation

Jesse Williams Believes Everyone Should Fight For Social Justice & Honestly, It’s Insulting Not To

Zendaya Realizing The Power In Being Herself Is What Took Her Career To The Next Level

Why Alison Abdullah Can’t Represent All Muslims On ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Taystee’s Speech On ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Gives Voice To The Black Women Whose Stories We Haven’t Heard

Troian Bellisario Found Confronting Her Past Eating Disorder For ‘Feed’ Beneficial In More Ways Than One

How ‘Get Out’ Made Allison Williams More Empathetic To The Black Experience

Solange’s Stunning Letter To Her Teenage Self Is All About Evolution

Zoe Kravitz’s Pride In Being Black Emphasizes The Strength That Comes With Owning Your Identity

“Do Work” Is Christopher “Big Black” Boykin’s Legacy Of A Life Lived To The Fullest

Shay Mitchell’s Social Media Advice Could Make You Step Away From The Apps For A Minute

Priyanka Chopra Won’t Settle For Just Any Role, But The Reason Why Extends Beyond Hollywood

Dear White People, You Really Need To Watch ‘Dear White People’ 

Danielle Brooks’ Way Of Describing Her Stretch Marks Is Beautiful

Chance The Rapper Is On The ‘Time’ 100 List Because He’s Completely & Totally Himself

John Boyega Experience With “Random Checks” At The Airport Is Sad But Not Surprising

A Miami Street Being Named After ‘Moonlight’ Brings Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Oscar’s Speech Full Circle

‘This Is Us’ Star Susan Kelechi Watson Shares A Lesson That Could Redefine Your Idea Of Beauty

“Who Said That?” Is The Greatest ‘Real Housewives Of Atlanta’ Gif Of All Time

The Backlash Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” Video Star Is Facing About Her Look Is All Too Familiar

Janelle Monae Says Women Should Say Yes To The “Power In Saying No” & She’s Spot-On

Jenny Slate Has Some Solid Advice On What To Do After A Breakup

Nathalie Emmanuel’s Story About Her Childhood Self-Esteem Shows How Important Representation Of People Of Color Is On Screen

Demi Lovato’s Post About Being 5 Years Sober Touches On The Tough Realities Of Recovery

Amy Schumer Embodies “Let Your Haters Be Your Motivators” With A Message To Internet Trolls

Chance The Rapper Speaking Out About Mental Illness In The Black Community Is A Game Changer

Angelina Jolie’s First Lecture As A Visiting Professor Is Helping To Mold Young Women’s Rights Advocates

Why Noor Tagouri Wants To Make People Uncomfortable With Her New Show ‘A Woman’s Job’

Anne Hathaway’s UN Speech On Parental Leave Makes Clear That This Is About More Than Money

Pete Davidson’s Instagram About Being “Happy & Sober” Includes An Important Message About Hope

Who Are Ed Sheeran’s Grandparents? “Nancy Mulligan” Was Written About Their Love Story

Jane Fonda Speaks Out About Her Rape & Wants Other Women To Know Abuse Is Not Their Fault

How Viola Davis’ Impoverished Childhood Inspired Her To Pursue A Better Life

Emma Watson Taking Control Of Her Image Will Inspire You To Do The Same

Barry Jenkins’ Actual Oscars Speech Would’ve Focused On What It Means To Dream For Someone Like Him

Naomie Harris Has An Important Reason For Her OBE Being Particularly Meaningful To Her

Will Matt Damon Attend The Oscars Or Will His Feud With Jimmy Kimmel Drive Him Away?

What Do Denzel Washington’s Children Do? They Followed In Their Parents’ Footsteps

Chris Brown’s Ex-Girlfriend Karrueche Tran Is Reportedly Granted A Restraining Order Against Him

Lindsay Lohan Claims She Was “Racially Profiled” For Wearing A Headscarf At An Airport

Amal & George Clooney Are Reportedly Expecting Twins, But Twitter Is Still Not Over Beyonce

Who Is Gary Clark Jr.? The Guitarist Is No Newbie To The Grammys

How Justin Timberlake’s Time With *NSYNC Affects The Way He Raises His Son

Tom Hiddleston Views On Honesty May Change Your Views On His Relationship With Taylor Swift

Why Gigi Hadid Has Some Fans Upset & Claiming She Mocked Asian Features

Why Lena Dunham Believes Making Fun Of Donald Trump’s Looks Isn’t The Way To Resist Him

Why Matthew McConaughey’s Comments About Donald Trump Have Some People Upset

Will Beyonce Still Headline Coachella? Pregnancy Didn’t Get In The Way Of Some Of Her Most Epic Performances

Beyonce & Jay Z’s Twins Are Here To Save The World, According To Twitter

Amy Schumer’s Latest Instagram Defends Chuck Schumer & Calls For Anti-Trump Action In One Fell Swoop

Lindsay Lohan Meets Bana al-Abed, The Young Girl Who Tweets About Aleppo & Shares A Message Of Peace — VIDEO

Shailene Woodley Applauds Malia Obama For Attending A Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Why Is Migos’ Album Called ‘Culture’? Its A Serious Statement On Their Own Influence

What Jay Z Says People Have To Do To Bring About Change In Today’s World

‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s’ Impact On Feminism Is Undeniable & Makes It Worth Watching Today

Paris Jackson’s First In-Depth Interview Speaks Volumes About Her Resiliency

Viola Davis’ Oscar Nomination Record Is Bittersweet

What Playing Jada Pinkett Smith Taught Kat Graham About Being Black In Hollywood

The ‘Power Rangers’ Trailer Is Here & It Has Some Big Changes From The ’90s Series

Kat Graham Is Ready For ‘Vampire Diaries’ Fans To See Past Bonnie Bennett

What Beyonce’s Interview With Solange Teaches Fans About Their Relationship As Sisters

Lena Dunham’s Lessons On Being Self-Confident Are Something We Should All Take To Heart

The Most Empowering Celeb Quotes About Mental Health From 2016

Carrie Fisher Quotes That Prove She Was The Most Badass Woman

Todd Fisher Tweets A Touching Tribute To Sister Carrie & Mother Debbie Reynolds — PHOTO

Debbie Reynolds’ ‘Halloweentown’ Co-star Kimberly J. Brown Honors Her With A Sweet & Personal Post

Why Drake & Jennifer Lopez Are Compatible… As Music Collaborators

Beyonce Is The Most Charitable Celeb Of 2016 Thanks In Part To Her Awareness Raising Tour

Mindy Kaling’s Assistant Gave Her A Funny (& Foodie) Christmas Present — PHOTO

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German Bus Driver Saves 60 Kids Before Train Crash

Barbie to Honor Zendaya with Doll Wearing Dreadlocks Like Oscars Red Carpet Look

Archaeologists Recover 3 Civil War Cannons From River

Woman Escapes Home Moments Before It Explodes

85-Year-Old Jewelry Thief Arrested for Allegedly Shoplifting at Saks

See Woman Being Rescued From Smoking Car at Pennsylvania Gas Station

Mom Uses Son’s Walker to Create Costume From ‘Up’

Former Taco Bell Exec Wants to Apologize to Uber Driver

School Hails Garbage Man as ‘Hero’ for Selfless Deed

Restaurant Issues ‘Rule Cards’ to Rein In Rowdy Kids

Fisherman Catches 2-Year-Old Camera, Then Reels In Owner

Officials Search for Answers to IHOP Parking Lot Collapse

American Girl Magazine Faces Criticism for Photo of Adopted Daughter and Two Dads

Pizza Hut Introduces Triple Decker Pizza and Dessert Box for the Holidays

Restaurant Offers Lonely Diners a Free Meal on Thanksgiving

Muslim Woman Turns Hate Into Help for UNICEF

Two-Legged Shelter Puppy Gets 3-D Printed Wheels

1-Eyed Alligator Caught on Texas Golf Course

Harvard University Police Investigating Hate Crime at Law School

Vietnam Veteran’s Lost Dog Tag Returned After 46 Years

Dog Captures Owners’ Wedding With a GoPro

Man Sends 240 Doughnuts to Cops After Being Ejected From Game

Misshaped Reese’s Christmas Trees Trashed on Social Media

Man Allegedly Caught on Camera Stealing Christmas Decorations

Watch Baby Mesmerized by Grocery Store’s Automatic Sliding Doors

This NFL-Themed Christmas Display Is Even Too Much for Hometown Fans

Darth Vader Seeks Job at the Fort Worth Police Department

High School Choir Performs as 67-Foot ‘Singing Christmas Tree’

Russia Gives France a Puppy Following Death of Police Dog During Paris Attacks

Santa Asks Little Girl What’s on Her Wish List With Sign Language

Anonymous Woman Pays for New Hampshire Family’s Christmas Gifts

Anonymous Donor Drops Rings in Salvation Army Red Kettle

Pennsylvania Man Pays Tribute to Late Son With Christmas Display

Photo of Elementary School Coach Praying With Players Causes Controversy

ABC News Staffers Preview New Star Wars Ice Cream

Photo of Professor Babysitting Student’s Kids While She Takes Exam Goes Viral

Airman Surprises Son During Gym Class After Yearlong Deployment

Persuade Like a Hostage Negotiator

When Conference Guests are On Their Worst Behavior

Understand What Innovation Really Means

Consumer Reports Reveals the Best and Worst Lawn Mowers

Hiring Millennials: 4 Things You Should Do

Handcrafted Candles Add a Scent of Sophistication to Shelves

5 Jewelry Gifts for Graduating Students

101 Reasons Why Social Media Matters to Your Brand

Civic Hacking and Ingenuity Ease Election Technology Challenges 

My Hair Evolution: The Trials of a Transitioner

Why I Enjoy Having a Signature Look

10 Most Relatable Quotes from HBO’s “Girls”

Passion for Color Is Key to Kelley Interior Design