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Budding celebrities

Budding celebrities — Kimberly Williams, Taho Dinh Vo, Robb Valleir, and Maduka Steady juggle college and fame

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KIMBERLY WILLIAMS
Northwestern
Twenty-one-year-old Williams didn’t know how to play basketball when she signed on as Steve Martin’s beloved, betrothed, and basketball-ready daughter in the 1991 hit movie Father of the Bride. She was in college and couldn’t find time for sports — what with majoring in performance study and taking journalism classes in case her acting career petered out, as she assumed it would. She’d done several ads — for clients like Clearasil — and though she was clearly cast in these because she appeared to be an all-American teen, none of the spots included athletics.

A basketball coach taught the diminutive actress the fundamentals, but when the big night came for her to go one-on-one with Martin (known to be almost as good with a ball as he is with a funny line), she found herself so sick with the flu that she couldn’t even speak.

And who was there to bring Williams hot tea? Her own dad, Gurney, a former magazine editor who had flown in from Westchester County, N.Y., to do a piece for Ladies’ Home Journal about what it was like to be the real father of ”the bride.”

After shooting the movie, Williams returned to college ”worried there was going to be jealousy. But I think people know I’m still the same person…It’s kind of fun, though. I love coming to L.A. And then I love going back to school and visiting friends.”

But leading a double life can be chaotic: She has just begun shooting Tomaqua with Alan Alda and Elizabeth Perkins, so she won’t be able to begin senior year until January. If then.

Rather than seek typically Hollywood diversions for solace, Williams turns inward. ”Sometimes dreams are more of a reality to me,” she says. ”I was talking to my dad about it, and I said, ‘These bees keep turning up in my dreams.’ He said, ‘Think about the word bee.’ It’s like to be, what should be, what you want to be. Whenever I’m feeling pressure to be a certain way, or trying to find out who I am, be is the word.”
Trish Deitch Rohrer

THAO DINH VO
Dartmouth
For novelist and ’92 Dartmouth grad Vo, it was passage from India that forced him to begin Traveling Light, a story about a middle-aged author of low-budget travel guides. Two weeks before he was to leave that country after an extended visit, his wallet was stolen and he was stranded. ”I had nothing to do but sit and think,” says the 24-year-old, who sent five chapters of Traveling to Ballantine, addressed ”To Whom It May Concern.” Remarkably, the manuscript was picked up by editor Iris Bass, who plans to release it under the Available Press imprint next year. Vo is no accidental tourist: A trip to his native Vietnam last winter (his first since his family left in 1975) had the young wanderer taking notes again — this time for a nonfiction account of his family’s history.
Suelain Moy

ROBB VALLIER
Berklee College of Music
This 22-year-old says that in the 250-plus songs he has written since he was 11, he has tried to combine catchy pop melodies with the storytelling of his early musical models, Rush and Genesis. The recipe must work: One of his songs, an R&B tune called ”Losing Love,” placed in the top three in a ’91 Boston songwriting contest run by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP); he and his band are working on the next album by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. The junior from Ames, Iowa, who is majoring in production and songwriting, says he knew he was destined to go pro ”when I started listening to other people’s stuff and saying, ‘I could have done that better.’ I can’t just say, ‘It’s got a good beat.”’
Caren Weiner