August 5, 1981
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Actor, Model, Teacher
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Best known for portraying Dr. Jackson Avery on the award-winning, hospital-set primetime soap opera "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC 2005- ), Jesse Williams first pursued acting after a brief stint as a high school teacher in Philadelphia, where he had attended Temple University and dabbled in professional modeling. Williams landed his first television role in 2006, with a one-off appearance in the long-running, New York City-set crime drama "Law & Order" (NBC 1990-2010). While in New York, Williams won Off-Broadway roles, appearing in "The American Dream" and "The Sandbox," two one-acts written and directed by heralded playwright Edward Albee. Then in 2008, Williams made his film debut with a supporting part in the friendship-centered teen film "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" (2008) The film proved to be a breakthrough for Williams, and he followed it with a supporting role in the gritty cop drama "Brooklyn's Finest" (2009). He also scored recurring roles on television in the beach-set drama series "Beyond the Break" (The N, 2006-09) and on "Grey's Anatomy." After a fiery season finale, Dr. Avery was upgraded from a recurring character to a series regular, and Williams became a vibrant part of the cast. When not shooting "Grey's Anatomy," Williams continued to pursue film work. In 2012, Williams tackled a new genre, co-starring opposite Chris Hemsworth in the horror-thriller "The Cabin in the Woods," penned by Joss Whedon. This was followed by a supporting role in "The Butler" (2013) and a starring role in drag racing drama "Snake and Mongoose" (2013). Williams became increasingly known for his political outspokenness as police killings of young black males became an increasingly dramatic national problem. His passionate acceptance speech of a humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards was both praised and vilified across the political spectrum. Williams next co-starred in the thriller "Money" (2016) and appeared in a supporting role in Zoe Lister Jones' indie comedy "Band Aid" (2017).