Kris Williams is one tough chick. This Massachusetts native has done it all from construction to art to modeling. She added “awesome paranormal investigator” to that list in 2007 when she joined the cast of Ghost Hunters. In a television genre dominated by men, Kris has stood out by defying the traditional role of the terrified girl: Kris runs toward the things that go bump in the night, not away from them.
On her website, Kris says, “There’s a lot more to me than nightvision or the butt shots the camera dudes have a habit of taking.” In this interview, she shows just how much more there is.
PRG: Prior to Ghost Hunters, you had a pretty wide variety of experience, from construction and modeling and acting. How did you transition between them?
KW: My father raised me to know that being a female is not a weakness, being a female doesn’t mean you can’t do things. He was big on teaching me new things that were considered unusual for girls. I spent many summers working on my car – he taught me how to do bodywork and mechanical stuff. He was a flooring installer and that’s how I got into that.
I reached a point in my life where I was sick of doing the normal nine-to-five thing, so I started trying different things. I tried the flooring and did tile, hardwood, vinyl, and all that stuff. But, I also worked in carpentry where I was doing things like installing oak staircases and cabinets, framing doors and hanging windows. I have always been a very hands on person.
I also don’t like being told I can’t do something. It’s mainly by guys. If a guy tells me I can’t do something, I will kill myself to not only do it, but do it better than they do. I think that’s what happened with the flooring. I was part of a crew and was the only girl there.
It’s a strange little world, and it’s not only there. It’s in a lot of situations that are male driven. If you want to do well, you not only have to bust your ass, you have to work harder than they do to get any respect. It’s helped me out a lot in a few areas of my life.
PRG: Over the past couple of years, I’ve had more and more students – mostly girls – tell me that, when they’re done with school, they want to be ghost hunters. A few years ago, they all wanted to be crime scene investigators – now it’s paranormal investigators and they say it’s because of Ghost Hunters.
KW: That’s great to hear! It’s kind of weird working in this because in a lot of ways it’s a boy’s club. That surprises me because we’re finding out that more women watch Ghost Hunters than men do. I know when I was little, watching horror movies with women, they always showed the girls running and screaming and crying and freaking out. That used to drive me crazy, even as a kid. With Ghost Hunters, I said I’m not that type of girl and I’m not going to be that type of girl.
PRG: How does one become a ghost hunter?
KW: It’s just a matter of getting online and finding a local group and reading up on the subject. It just fell into place for me. I had actually met Jay and Grant maybe three years before they got the show. We clicked right away and I wanted to be part of their group, but I couldn’t do it then – I was working full time, was in school full time, and my grandfather was sick, so whatever spare time I had I spent with him. They eventually got the show and halfway through the third season they asked me to join.
It happened to be a weird time for me because I had had five people in the previous eleven months pass away. I didn’t grow up in any church or organized religion so, I didn’t know what to believe. I always grew up with this belief in hauntings and ghosts, but when I thought about just death, I always looked at it as well, I don’t remember not being around before I was born, why would death be any different. You just stop. It took that to make me see that my two beliefs totally contradicted each other.
I’ve been at it for three years and I probably have more questions now than when I started.
PRG: What kind of questions?
KW: When I came into it, the question was, more or less, is there some sort of life after death. I didn’t have a church background and I lost a lot of people all at once, so coming in to it, I was open to anything.
Once I started having experiences, I noticed that the skeptic in me still kicks in first. It seems like the crazier the experiences get, the more the skeptic comes out.
I’ve seen things I never thought I’d see, like six foot tall shadows just walking out of nothing. I know what I saw, the people with me knew they saw the same thing. But, I can’t help but wonder if it were this that or that other thing. What if I didn’t check all my options? When the experiences are big enough, they’re still too big to wrap your head around. I think that’s why I’m still doing it. Once you start, it’s addictive.
PRG: Does having that bit of skepticism make you better at what you do?
KW: I think so. You do have to be a skeptic coming into it. For some people out there, every bump in the dark is a ghost when it’s really an animal. There’s a lot of people who don’t realize that there are little things that can happen. Like, say the doors open and close, or they’re hearing voices. Come to find out there’s a vent in the floor that goes to another floor and they’re actually hearing conversation from that floor. Or with the door thing, sometimes when you open one door in the house, the suction causes another door to slam shut. Sometimes there are rational reasons for why things happen and other times they’re not so easy to explain.
PRG: You’ve been into genealogy since you were a kid. How has that helped you in your investigations?
KW: Genealogy has helped me out not just in investigating, but in life in general. As far as being a kid that grew up outside of religion, when it came to figuring out where I came from and what I’m all about, genealogy helped me out a lot in learning where my family came from and some of the difficulties they went through to get me to where I am. You don’t really realize how much your family’s past effects where you are, so it’s interesting on that line.
Also looking at old family photos, it gives a sense of belonging because you’ll see certain characteristics in people’s faces that you also have. I had a lot of fun with that and was obsessed with it for a while.
With investigating it’s great because it’s basically the same thing: you’re researching the dead. And who haunts houses? People do. It’s trying to figure out who past owners are, who else may be attached to the property, what historical events took place there whether it be battles or disease or something else. It’s come in handy quite a few times.
PRG: What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?
KW: I’d say the scariest place we’ve ever been was Waverly Hills in Kentucky. I had two huge experiences there when I was still new to the whole thing. It was insane. It was one of those places where – and I hate saying this because I know how crazy it sounds – it’s one of the few places where I will admit that something is up with that place. Not only is there something there, it’s also aware of us and what we’re doing. It’s like it waits for us to not be ready. It caught me off guard twice in there.
Ghost Hunters airs Wednesdays at 9PM on Syfy. Here is a preview clip from tonight’s episode.