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Jesse Wesley Williams (born August 5, 1981)[2] is an American actor, director, producer and activist. He is best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC series Grey's Anatomy (2009–present). He has appeared in the films The Cabin in the Woods (2012), The Butler (2013) and Band Aid (2017). He provided voice acting and motion capture for Markus in Detroit: Become Human (2018).

Jesse Williams
Jesse Williams in 2008 white shirt.jpg
Jesse Williams, New York City, 2008
Born
Jesse Wesley Williams

(1981-08-05) August 5, 1981 (age 38)
Alma materTemple University
Occupation
  • Actor
  • model
  • activist
Years active2006–present
Spouse(s)
Aryn Drake-Lee
(m. 2012; sep 2017)
Children2[n 1]

Early lifeEdit

Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois,[3] to Johanna Chase, a professional potter, and Reginald Williams.[4] Of mixed race, Williams has said his mother is Swedish and his father is African American from Georgia.[5][6] His two younger brothers specialize in visual arts. Williams graduated from Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1998.[4] After he graduated from high school, his parents each began teaching in the public school system, while his mother maintained her work in pottery.[4][6]

Williams graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts.[4][7] Following in the footsteps of his parents, he taught high school in the Philadelphia public school system for six years: teaching American Studies, African Studies, and English.[8]

CareerEdit

In 2005, Williams began to study acting and was chosen to participate in the New York Actors Showcase presented by ABC Television, one of 14 actors chosen from among over 800 individuals who auditioned.[4] Since 2006, he has appeared in a number of television series, films and theatre productions. In 2012, he established a production company, farWord Inc.[6]

In May 2012, a fan campaign was organized to try to influence film executives to cast him in the role of Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.[9] This news resulted in some Hunger Games fans protesting casting decisions made by the film executives.[10]

In 2013, Williams wrote an opinion piece for CNN which analyzed the film Django Unchained.[11] Later that year, he narrated the audio version of the book The Bane Chronicles: What Really Happened In Peru, by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan.[12]

TelevisionEdit

In 2006, Williams appeared in an episode of Law & Order, portraying the character Kwame. He also appeared in the role of Drew Collins, in two episodes of the ABC Family series Greek. He had a recurring role in eight episodes of the TV series Beyond the Break as Officer Eric Medina.[13]

On October 15, 2009, Williams began appearing as surgical resident Jackson Avery, in the ABC television series Grey's Anatomy.[14] On June 8, 2010, it was announced Williams would be a series regular, starting in season 7.[15] BuddyTV ranked him No. 6 on its "TV's 100 Sexiest Men of 2010" list[16] and No. 11 in 2011.[17]

TheatreEdit

Williams appeared in revival joint-productions of The American Dream (1961) and The Sandbox (1959) at Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village in New York City. This production was directed by their playwright Edward Albee.

Williams has also served as a guest director for student productions at the Urban Arts Partnership 24 Hour Plays Off-Broadway, at the request of Rosie Perez and Anna Strout.[8][18] His theater work includes an off-Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie.

FilmEdit

In 2008, Williams made his film debut in the supporting role of Leo in the sequel to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Two years later, he appeared in Brooklyn's Finest (2010), starring Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes and Ellen Barkin. In 2008, Williams signed on for his first leading role, as Holden McCrea in the MGM/United Artists horror film The Cabin in the Woods. Produced by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, it was released April 13, 2012.[18]

On June 9, 2015, Variety announced Jamie Bamber, Kellan Lutz, Jesse Williams, and Jess Weixler had joined the cast of the thriller film Money, directed by Martin Rosete and produced by Atit Shah.[19]

In May 2016, Williams was executive producer of the documentary film Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.[20]

ActivismEdit

Williams is the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project, art exhibition, student and teacher curriculum and website,[21] focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He has written articles for CNN[22] and The Huffington Post,[23] and has been a guest on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room.

In June 2016, Williams won the humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards, delivering a speech highlighting racial injustice, police brutality, and the invention of whiteness.[24] As a result of his speech, dueling petitions were circulated: one to have Williams fired from Grey's Anatomy and one to keep him on the series.[25]

ModelingEdit

Williams occasionally worked as a model during college, but never considered pursuing it as a career. He modeled for Kenneth Cole Productions, L. L. Bean, and Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.[3][26] He can be seen as the love interest of R&B singer Rihanna in the music video for her single "Russian Roulette" from her 2009 album Rated R. He also appears in the music video for Estelle's song "Fall In Love", from the album All of Me.[18] In 2012, Williams modeled briefly for Lane Bryant and recently in the video for "Tell Me You Love Me" By Demi Lovato. Currently, Williams is working on a campaign for Levi's Jean Company.

Video gameEdit

Williams did the voice acting and performance capture for Markus in the video game Detroit: Become Human, which first released on May 25, 2018 for the PlayStation 4.

Personal lifeEdit

In September 2012, Williams married longtime girlfriend Aryn Drake-Lee. They have two children, Sadie and Maceo. In April 2017, it was reported that Williams had filed for divorce. He then was in a relationship with actress Minka Kelly; they broke up in January 2018. He is now dating actress Taylour Paige.[27][28]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Leo
2009 Brooklyn's Finest Eddie Quinlain
2010 Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights Johnny Short film
2012 The Cabin in the Woods Holden McCrea
2012 Question Bridge: Black Males N/A Executive producer
2013 The Butler James Lawson
2013 Snake and Mongoose Don "The Snake" Prudomme
2013 They Die by Dawn John Taylor
2016 Money Sean
2017 Band Aid Skyler
2019 Selah and the Spades The Headmaster
2019 Jacob's Ladder Post-production
2019 Random Acts of Violence Todd Walkley Post-production

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Law & Order Kwame 1 episode
2006 Beyond the Break Eric Medina 8 episodes
2008 Greek Drew "The Hotness Monster" Collins 2 episodes
2009 The Washingtonienne Keya Pilot
2009–present Grey's Anatomy Dr. Jackson Avery Recurring (season 6)
Main cast (season 7–present)
Nominated – People's Choice Awards, Favorite Dramatic TV Actor (2016–17)
2010 Seattle Grace: Message of Hope 6 episodes
2016 The Eric Andre Show Himself Episode: "Jesse Williams; Jillian Michaels"
2018 Most Expensivest Episode: "Lights Camera Action"

Music videosEdit

Year Title Artist
2006 "When Your Heart Stops Beating" +44
2009 "Russian Roulette" Rihanna
2010 "Fall in Love" Estelle
2017 "Tell Me You Love Me" Demi Lovato
2017 Legacy Jay-Z

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2018 Detroit: Become Human Markus Also motion capture

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Jesse Williams Drops More Gems". BET. Viacom. June 29, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  2. ^ "Jesse Williams". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Adams, Patty (October 26, 2009). "The Betty Interview: Jesse Williams". BettyConfidential.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e David B. Boyce, Standard-Times correspondent (November 13, 2005). "Dartmouth native wins spot in ABC acting showcase". SouthCoastTod ay.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Jesse Williams learns and plays history – Daily Press". Articles.dailypress.com. September 18, 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Jesse Williams Is Not Just a Pretty Face". Global Grind. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Django, in chains - CNN.com". CNN. February 21, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Jackson Avery: Played by Jesse Williams)". Grey's Anatomy official site (ABC). Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ "Catching Fire Casting Scoop: Fan Fave Jesse Williams Talks Finnick!". E! Online. May 2, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Anna Breslaw (May 5, 2012). "Another Racist Shitstorm Brews Over Casting Hunger Games' Finnick". Jezebel.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "Django, in chains". CNN.com. February 21, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Rosenfield, Kat (April 17, 2013). "Jesse Williams Spills The Beans On His 'Bane Chronicles' Voice Gig". MTV. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  13. ^ "Jesse Williams' Official Website: Filmography". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "Jesse Williams cast in 'Grey's Anatomy' – Live Feed". Hollywoodreporter.com. August 28, 2009. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  15. ^ Fowler, Tara. "'Grey's Anatomy' exclusive: Jesse Williams gets full-time upgrade | Inside TV | EW.com". Ausiellofiles.ew.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  16. ^ "TV's 100 Sexiest Men of 2010". Buddytv.com. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  17. ^ "TV's 100 Sexiest Men of 2011". Buddytv.com. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c "Jesse Williams' Official Website: Bio". Archived from the original on July 30, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  19. ^ Hopewell, John; Mayorga, Emilio (June 9, 2015). "Bamber, Lutz, Williams, Weixler Set For 'Money' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  20. ^ "BET's Award-Winning The Truth Series Returns with the Premiere of an Original Documentary on the Rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement". Business Wire. May 2016.
  21. ^ "Question Bridge".
  22. ^ Jesse Williams, Special to CNN (February 19, 2013). "Django, in chains". CNN.
  23. ^ "Too Many American Students Are Experiencing Hunger". The Huffington Post. October 11, 2011.
  24. ^ Katie Roger (June 27, 2016). "How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards With Speech on Racism". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Stack, Liam (July 5, 2016). "Petition Wants Jesse Williams Fired for His Speech at BET Awards. But He's Not Worried". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  26. ^ "Jesse Williams". RTÉ News. November 24, 2011.
  27. ^ "'Grey's Anatomy' Star Jesse Williams and Wife Divorce". TMZ. Time Warner. April 24, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  28. ^ Corinthios, Aurelie; Leonard, Elizabeth (April 24, 2017). "Grey's Anatomy's Jesse Williams & Wife Aryn Drake-Lee Amicably Divorcing After 5 Years of Marriage". People. Time Inc. Retrieved April 24, 2017.

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ During an interview in 2016, Williams himself stated that he had seven children.[1] However, most sources only mention two.

External linksEdit