Michelle Williams Really Could Win a Grammy for Britney Spears’s Memoir

Michelle Williams is many months removed from her latest Oscar nomination, for The Fabelmans, as well as one of her most recent films, Kelly Reichardt’s delightfully minor key Showing Up. Yet she’s given what might be the fall’s most talked-about performance as the narrator of Britney Spears’s memoir, The Woman in Me.

The book has been topping charts since its release on October 24, but it’s clips from Williams’s audiobook narration that keep going viral—capturing Justin Timberlake’s cringeworthy approach to Ginuwine, or Spears’s sister being a “total bitch.” The contrast of Spears’s conversational writing style and Williams’s carefully trained voice is funny in 15-second clips, but completely captivating in longer stretches. It’s Spears’s story, of course, but Williams is breathing a different kind of life into it, one survivor of the child-star industrial complex lending her voice to another.

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Williams has been nominated for an Oscar five times, and while most sensible people continue to root for her to finally win, another possibility now looms: Could Michelle Williams win a Grammy for this? That’s how Viola Davis cemented her EGOT this year, after all, by winning a Grammy for narrating her own audiobook. Williams already has an Emmy, for Fosse/Verdon, and a Tony nomination for Blackbird, so this could be what really gets her EGOT run going.

Williams will have to wait a while, however. This year’s Grammy nominations will be announced on November 10, but the eligibility cut off was September 15, which means The Woman in Me will have to wait until next year for consideration.

But the bigger hurdle might be Grammy voters themselves. The category now known as best audio book, narration and storytelling recording has evolved many times since it was established in 1959, under many different names but called best spoken word album from 1998 and 2022. That deliberately broad umbrella makes room for a lot of unlikely competitors; the 1971 award went posthumously to Martin Luther King Jr., winning over fellow nominee Bill Cosby, and in 2003 Maya Angelou triumphed over a recording of Tim Robbins reading The Great Gatsby. Winners have included everyone from Orson Welles to Magic Johnson to Barack Obama. More than perhaps any other category at the always chaotic Grammys, here, anything goes.

But in recent years, while the nominees have been all over the map (Davis beat Lin-Manuel Miranda reading a YA book, for example), the winners have trended fairly seriously. Jimmy Carter won his third Grammy in this category in 2019. Don Cheadle won in 2022 for reading a book by John Lewis. Though celebrity memoirs like Davis’s or Carrie Fisher’s (the 2018 winner) still triumph sometimes, being a former president or a very, very old celebrity is still a pretty unbeatable advantage.

Spears has her own checkered history with the Grammys. She didn’t win a statuette until 2005, for best dance recording for “Toxic,” and famously lost the best-new-artist statuette in 2000 to Christina Aguilera. A whole lot has changed since then, from the makeup of Grammy voters to Spears’s career, and the triumphant comeback narrative around her memoir could easily extend to the Grammys as well. But as much as Williams is likely to be the most talked-about audiobook narrator of this year (or next), the Grammy might not come as easily as we’d like.

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