Growing up on 8 Rod Road in Waterville, Helen Williams watched “I Love Lucy” and dreamed of being an actor.

The 1981 graduate of Waterville Senior High School is now living her dream in Los Angeles.

At 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1, Williams, who years ago changed her name to Diana Hart, will appear on TNT’s “The Closer,” starring Kyra Sedgwick.

The episode also features “Judging Amy” alum and 1984 Bowdoin College graduate Marcus Giamatti and “Criminal Minds” regular Meredith Monroe.

Hart was Diana Hart’s mother’s maiden name and Hart was spurred to pursue her dream of acting after her mother died in 2005.

“I’m very fortunate and very grateful to be here doing this and expressing a part of the human condition,” she said.

“It’s so enriching what I do. There’s a reason this is going on now in my life.”

The original plan, said Hart, was to pursue acting a couple of decades earlier.

After graduating from Newbury College in Boston, Hart grabbed a backpack and traveled throughout Europe with her college roommate.

She settled in London for a couple of years, married a man from New Zealand and moved there.

After divorcing in 1987, Hart, 23 at the time, headed to Los Angeles with $1,500, two duffle bags and a purpose.

Hart ended up using her interior design skills, and worked in retail and on the fringes of the entertainment industry.

When Hart’s mother died in 2005, Hart said she reassessed her life.

She said she was north of 40, divorced, and felt like she was “on a treadmill alone.”

“Some days I felt like the most creative thing I did was get dressed,’ she said. “It was a grind.”

So Hart left her job at Disneyland and began pursuing an acting career.

On her resume, Hart lists one of her special skills as the ability to cry on command.

Hart said she has a wealth of emotion from which to draw, including the deaths, in their 40s, of two of her brothers.

With makeup and wardrobe changes, Hart, who calls herself a character actor, can morph into an abused woman or the first lady of the United States.

She’s got the photos to prove it on her website, www.dianahart.com.

“It’s fun to be able to have the ability to look so different,” she said.

Hart was chosen for the guest appearance as a school administrator on “The Closer” after attending a casting workshop and being asked to the studio to read a scene from the script.

After she was selected for the part, Hart attended a table reading, which consists of reading, in performance mode, the complete script with the entire cast of the show.

Hart was also recently cast in a supporting role in the comedic drama “God’s Country” and she stars as the first lady in “The Average American,” an August entry in the International Vegas Cine Fest.

“I’m as proactive as I can be,” said Hart, who said she goes to casting workshops, does a lot of networking, attends a class and hikes.

Hart said being chosen for “The Closer” was particularly rewarding because it is the favorite show of her aunt and uncle, Sue and Perley Beane of Waterville.

“I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” she said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

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