Project Runway All Stars winner Anthony Williams on making history

Project Runway All Stars season 6 ended Thursday night with three beautiful and undoubtedly original collections. The panel of judges had the tough job of deciding among three very talented designers in what they called “a close race,” but in the end it was Anthony Williams’ passion, vision, and sass that earned him the season 6 All Stars crown. Here, he talks with EW about why winning Project Runway is similar to winning a pageant, the importance of being first, and his future plans.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When they said your name and announced you as the winner, how was that moment for you?
ANTHONY WILLIAMS: It was one of those out of body experiences. I remember being able to hear the models walking backstage and I was thinking, if I focus on the models’ feet moving then I’ll know whose models they are. Everything that I tried to do to prepare me, there was no thought that could have really prepared me for that moment. I just thought, did [host Alyssa Milano] really say my name? [Laughs]

It was such a good moment. You look genuinely shocked.
I’m going to be honest with you, I was really shocked because let’s face it, the competition sometimes annoyed me. The judges really loved Stanley’s clothes and they thought Fabio was so cute. I remember Isaac saying, ‘I like him so much, he’s so cute, I can’t give him a bad critique,’ during the avant garde challenge. I was sitting there thinking, “Bitch, you better find one.” I was annoyed by that aspect of the competition.

This season was rookies vs. veterans and this was your third time on Project Runway. What was different this time around for you as a designer and competitor?
First, I gotta tell you this, because people don’t ask me what my life was before Project Runway: I was actually a female impersonator by the name of Kennedy Lorraine Onassis and I was a pageant girl. I’m from the pageant world and you keep going until you win and it’s been a fabulous experience. I tell you what was the defining moment for me: one of my drag sisters, if you will, told me, “Anthony, the only way you’re going to win is if you compete like you’re in a pageant.” This is even before I left Atlanta to do the show. It was a lot to digest at the moment but I never realized that the life I lived in the nightclubs and all of that would influence and help me win Project Runway All Stars. I realized they were the same when Alyssa brought us back and asked us why we should win the competition and something in that moment said to me, “Anthony, hey lil’ mama, you don’t have to give the perfect answer, you just need to answer and leave no doubt that you are the real winner.”

When it came down to the final three designers, it was anyone’s game — each of you are excellent designers. Did that push you even more to show your skills?
First of all I felt like we gave them one of the best All Stars seasons, in my opinion. I knew that I was competing against two people who saw each other as direct competition. So while they were busy competing against each other, I was trying to win a show, and that’s the difference. I definitely think I won fair and square, but what I’m saying is simply that I was focused on winning the show and they were focused on beating each other.

Anthony came ready to win…
Yeah! I came with an agenda, because here’s the thing; I don’t want to be a fashion designer, I am a fashion designer. I enjoy beautiful gowns, point blank. I went on television this last time for the opportunity to showcase my personality and the light that comes through me when I am on TV. If anybody watches me and thinks I’m selling dresses then they are not watching the same show that I came prepared to put on.

When you guys were at the Smithsonian, you said something very important.: you wanted to win because you’d be the first black gay man to ever win any Project Runway show. Why was that so important for you?
I came to this show to be great. There will be a lot of winners at Project Runway, but not everyone will be remembered. There are a lot of people on this earth who will never be the first to do something, so I take great pride in being the first. I have always been black and have always been proud of being African-American but I never knew of the dynamics of it. So, for example, I auditioned for a show in L.A. and there was a black guy in there for the straight category, and in the rotations to test out chemistry they never put me with the other black guy. I realized they were only going to choose one black person. I just didn’t have to be the best out of the gays, I also had to be better than the straight black guy — you get what I’m saying. I realized that it is important, that when you can make history, you can make strides, be an example and representative for your people and people that identify with you, it is important that you do so.

It was so refreshing to see the final three be so unapologetically themselves.
Listen, I feel like I’m giving you all the tea, but we made a covenant at the beginning, Fabio, Ken, Stanley, and myself. We agreed that we would champion each other to the top 5 and once we got there, it was everybody for themselves.

Now that you’ve won and Anthony has made an impression, what’s next?
I want to continue in television; ultimately I want to be on HSN. I like this idea of people calling and buying clothes, but really it’s just my talk show. [Laughs] I have no desire to send my gowns to the red carpet. The truth is, everyday women really respond to what I do. I think that in my journey, as an artist, God has allowed me to work in many fields, and out of process of elimination I know that HSN can be my home. Also, I’ll be the first Project Runway winner to fulfill their position at Marie Claire, and you know damn sure I’m doing that.

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