“Girl” Gives Back

For actress—and former Polo store associate!—Allison Williams, charity starts close to home

This year is turning out to be a big year for Allison Williams. On TV, she wrapped up the final season of the cultural juggernaut Girls. At the movies, she costarred in Get Out, destined to be the biggest sleeper hit of 2017. And last week, she kicked off her second annual 10 Days of Giving to benefit Horizons National—a nonprofit that provides after-school and summer learning opportunities for low-income youth. For 10 days, Williams announces two curated products per day, via videos on her Instagram feed, which people can get when they make a specified donation to Horizons National. We talked to her about her deep roots with the charity, her favorite four-legged costar, and her stint working at a Polo Ralph Lauren store.

Tell us a little bit about how you first got started with Horizons National.
I basically grew up with Horizons. I grew up going to the elementary school where they started their first program, the New Canaan Country School. During the summer it transforms into this part camp, part school, part swimming class—because every student learns to swim. Only as I got older did I start to understand certain statistics about why Horizons is so effective about combating the summer slide. Summer affects low-income kids disproportionately, and it can really mean the difference between that kid having an equal chance at making their dreams come true or not.

What’s been the most fulfilling thing for you about working with Horizons?
I feel almost guilty about the caliber of education that I received growing up. Obviously I feel incredibly grateful, but I also wish that same education had been available to all of the kids that I meet at Horizons programs all over the country. I am constantly driving the national board insane by bringing, like, a city a week to them. I’ve been on the phone with their state government trying to start a Horizons program. They are constantly like, “We’re a small organization! Slow down! We can’t expand as quickly as you want us to.” They’re right to do it carefully. I’m just impatient

This is your second year doing 10 Days of Giving. What will be different this year? What special things can people expect?
Well, obviously last year was a heavy lift; we did a product every day, so naturally this year I doubled it. So we’re doing two products a day. But it’s really fun to come up with a mixture of expensive and less expensive for everything from dogs to girlie things to more neutral things. I should add that I’m thrilled that Ralph Lauren is involved this year and donated product for Horizons. It’s also been an absolute blast to make all of the videos and having my costar Moxie in as many of them as possible…
                            Allison Williams in Ralph Lauren Collection at the Met Costume Institute Gala, 2012
Allison Williams in Ralph Lauren Collection at the Met Costume Institute Gala, 2012

That would be your 2-year-old rescue dog. How is she on set? Does she come in prepared? Does she know her lines?
She definitely comes in prepared. She’s very particular. I think I can comfortably call her a diva. She likes there to be no sound, as little activity as possible, and she demands treats on a pretty regular basis, but the work is so good, I can’t really fault her for her behavior. She’s just beautiful and nice and talented. What’s not to love?

You used to work at the Polo Ralph Lauren store in New Canaan, Connecticut. Since we’re doing this for RL Mag, do you have any fun memories you’d like to share?
I have so many. First of all, I’m very proud of my ascent from a stockroom girl to a full-on salesperson. I also remember that I used to pack my suitcase folding things with paper because I had grown accustomed to doing that [working there]. My family thought I was insane, but after we arrived and nothing was wrinkled, they started to rethink their packing choices. I loved working for Ralph Lauren. It just seems like it was the perfect summer job. Still to this day when I go home for the weekend or something, I’ll go into Ralph Lauren and see some familiar faces, which just makes me really happy.
Andrew Paine Bradbury is a writer and musician based in New York City.
  • 2012 Kevin Mazur
  • Courtesy of Horizons National
  • Photograph by Kevin Mazur; Courtesy of WireImage