Best known for his TV roles, Jesse Williams is an outstanding actor and advocate for equality among all races. As the youngest member of the board of directors of The Advancement Project (a civil rights think-tank and advocacy group), Jesse does all he can to help prevent racial injustice. In 2016, Jesse Williams won the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET awards. He gave a speech focusing on racial injustice, police brutality, and the invention of “whiteness.” “It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got there, the more we will mobilize.”
Jesse Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, Jesse experienced two very different communities and cultures. His mother is Swedish and his father is African American. From the hoods of Chicago to the suburbs of Massachusetts, Jesse has lived in every community. Jesse and his two brothers spent a lot of time at school, as their parents both became teachers in the public school system. Though race didn’t seem like a big deal, he did notice a shift in diction from the places he lived. “We all use similar vocabularies but mean very different things. I started to pick up on that as I reached adolescence,” Jesse says. Jesse graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film/Media Arts.
Jesse Williams’ acting career began in 2005 when he was chosen to participate in the New York Actors Showcase presented by ABC Television. From there, his acting career flourished and he began getting casted left and right. He played various roles such as “Kwame” in Law and Order and “Leo” in The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants. He’s most known for his role as “Doctor Jackson Avery” in the show Grey’s Anatomy. Even in the show, he advocates for the rights of fictional characters who have experienced racial inequality. In addition to acting, Jesse Williams has launched two mobile apps, hosted a basketball podcast, and filmed a remake of the 1990 thriller, Jacob’s Ladder.
Jesse Williams’ heart for others is truly phenomenal. His work continues to inspire others and help bridge unity across races through the United States.
Alexis Cook, Project RACE Teens, Co-President
(Photo Credit: PR Photos)