Malinda Williams' personalities fall in the pussy family. Although she's generally playful—a trait she refers to as being a kitten—the New Jersey-bred actress turns tiger when pleasure takes a backstep to business. "The tiger gets me where I need to go,” she says. "Sometimes she just shows her face to check people.” In a business with limited roles for Black women, a shorty's gotta eat. And in addition to starting her Modern Goddess lingerie line, Malinda, 30, has been feasting on acting gigs. She landed a spot on NBC's mid-season ensemble drama Windfall (A Black woman wins the lottery. That's fiction at its best.) and a leading roll as Big Boi's superwife in the OutKast musical Idlewild. Gotta respect her growl.

KING You've been acting professionally since you were 11. Any casting- couch horror stories?

MALINDA WILLIAMS Now I'm a lot clearer on how I want to navigate this industry. It's like driving on a racetrack. If you let your eyes off the road for one second it can be disastrous. You have to keep your mind on the finish line, and that's where my mind is focused.
Red flag! That type of determination and drive in a woman is usually very intimidating to a man
I've definitely noticed that. I'll see men across the room thinking, "She don't wanna talk to me.” It's an unfortunate thing because to me confidence is one of the sexiest things a man can have. For women like me who have found and stepped into their power, it takes a super-confident dude to be by my side.

"Super-confident” sounds like a special weight class. Hopefully you're giving the brothers who are actually stepping to you some sort of heads up on what he might be getting himself into.

I always give you the warning. I will let you know upfront, I am very strong-willed and opinionated. That's your out, right there. I would never do it purposely, but if you let your guard down, I will trample you. When you step up you have to stay up and the same goes for me.
This doesn't sound like much fun. Is there a softer side hiding somewhere?

I really am a kitten. I prefer to be a kitten, but the tiger does exist.

This year you introduced Modern Goddess, which is your high-end lingerie line. What inspired you to design and sell women's undies?

I just needed a different creative outlet. The acting thing has been good to me and I really enjoy it, but I wanted to do something else. I'm not a writer and I didn't want to direct.

Continue reading this story in the October ‘06 issue of KING (#36)