Jesse Wesley Williams is an American actor, director, and activist. He is best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Williams has also appeared in several films and television series, including The Cabin in the Woods, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Williams is also an activist involved in civil rights, education, and Black Lives Matter, among other causes.
Williams was born on August 5, 1981, in Chicago, Illinois, to a biracial family. He attended Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, and The Field School in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American studies and film and media arts.
Williams began his acting career in 2006, appearing in television shows such as Law and Order and Greek. He made his feature film debut in 2010 in the horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. In 2013, Williams was cast as Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy. The role earned him critical acclaim and several award nominations, including two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
In addition to his acting career, Williams is an activist, working with organizations such as the Advancement Project, Human Rights Campaign, and The Advancement Project. He also advocates for Black Lives Matter and has spoken out against police brutality and systemic racism.
Williams is also a philanthropist, working with organizations such as the Lower Eastside Girls Club and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. He has been an advocate for the LGBT community and education. In 2017, he received the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards for his activism.
Williams is currently married to real estate agent Aryn Drake-Lee, with whom he has two children. He is an avid surfer, snowboarder, and soccer player and enjoys playing music, especially the guitar.
Williams has also been involved in numerous charitable initiatives, including launching his own charity, The Sankofa Project, which focuses on providing access to education for underprivileged youth. He has also supported the Black Lives Matter movement, attending protests and speaking out against systemic racism, police brutality, and inequality.
In 2020, Williams was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role on Grey's Anatomy. He has also received several other awards and nominations throughout his career, including NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, and People’s Choice Awards. Williams is a leader in the entertainment industry, and his activism and philanthropic work have inspired many and made him a role model for the next generation of entertainers.