Lisa Williams was born in the UK but now lives in upstate New York, which is testament to her success as a TV-friendly psychic. Lisa has done readings on Oprah, had TV cameras follow her into old houses to soothe restless spirits, and even been whisked off stage in New Zealand after revealing names of people connected to the murder of farmer Scott Guy.
According to Lisa, she first realised she had a talent at the age of four when she saw a man standing at the dining table warning her not to eat her peas. She later found out her great-uncle choked to death eating peas. It wasn't until Lisa was in her 20s that she began doing readings for friends. Word-of-mouth spread quickly and she quit her sales job to work full time. Her big break into show business came when television producer Merv Griffin (Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune) signed her for for a show that became Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead. From there on she was famous.
As Lisa is on her way to New Zealand, we called her up to pick her psychic brain.
VICE: When were you last in Auckland?
Lisa Williams: I was there last year teaching mediumship and oracle cards. I teach teachers to teach. I want to try to get the crap off the streets. The ones that really are putting fear into people. What we've got is someone's life in our hands. We can screw someone up if we don't know what we're doing.
Have you ever screwed someone up?
I've never done it to a client but I've had it done to me. Many years ago I was what I'd call a psychic junkie. I'd have another reading to back up another reading to back up another reading. I was at a desperate place in my life. I would base a lot of my decisions on what these psychics would say. It's crazy. Anyway, I let myself be governed and led by this psychic. I realised that I was in such a fragile place that actually she had the ability to really, really crucify me. She could have said anything and I'd have given her so much money. That's the reason why it's so important to have some form of regulation on it.
There are psychics out there who will say, "You've got a curse around you, I need to get rid of it, it's going to cost you $1500." A classic one, and it happened to me, "There's a man around you who is in grave danger. However, if you want to find out who this person is, it's going to cost you X amount of money for another 25 minutes." It's bad.
But is regulating the psychic industry even possible?
I can't personally regulate around the world but I can certify mediums and psychics to be in a directory. People can then look it up and say, "This is someone I can go to and trust because Lisa endorses her." I think that has quite a lot of weight about it.
What is the most common question people ask of the dead?
The first thing is "are you ok?" Second is "could I have done anything differently?" Third is "do you want me to pass a message on to someone?" I understand it's powerful to let people know that their loved ones are OK. It helps so many people move on in life.
What countries around the world are most accepting of the spirit world?
I say the English accept it very, very well. The US has a great understanding of it. I do believe Australia and New Zealand are probably next in line to England, mainly because you've got an indigenous culture. I think that helps. There is a massive spiritual underlying context within the nationality. It's like the Native Americans over in the US, it very much helps.
Have you ever used psychic ability to solve a crime?
Yes, many times. I work with a lot of law enforcement agencies with regards to crime investigation—missing people, a lot of different things.
Any New Zealand cases?
I was on stage in New Zealand. I didn't realise what I was getting myself into. I remember I started talking to someone about Scott someone. It was a big gang murder of some sort. [Scott Guy was found dead at the gate of his family farm in 2010. His brother-in-law Ewan Macdonald stood trial for his murder and was found not guilty.] I had an off-duty police officer backstage. He was kind of getting antsy on the side of stage. Apparently I was coming up with so much evidence that they'd only just found out that day and I was sharing it with the audience. Next thing I knew, flights had been changed. Everything had been changed. My protection, my security had been upped. It was kind of crazy. It's a curse.
It's a curse?
Sometimes. In many ways. It isn't the first time I've had heightened security and whisked away into a little room and someone's said, "Do you know what you've just said?" With high profile cases you have to be very careful. It's something I teach as well: How to deal with law enforcement, how to deal with the FBI.
You moved from the UK to Los Angeles and are now living upstate New York? Why did you ditch LA?
I've got great friends and I got used it to there but as far as I was concerned I'd done my time. I'd done eight and a half years and it was time to go somewhere quieter so I moved to the home of spiritualism. It was just the right time, right place, right move.
Was LA all about ramping up the celebrity side of your business?
Yeah. The entertainment industry is in LA. But over the last couple of years I've really just had a couple of years off. I've done private readings. I've toured a little bit. I haven't focused as much on my work as I would normally do. We all get burnout. We all get tired. My family life needed to take over. I have a son who is 15. I had to focus on him. It was important for me to have some time off. Being a mum and being a friend and being Lisa.