Photo Credit - University of Buffalo with permission to Entercom Buffalo LLC

UB Distinguished Speakers Series: Jesse WIlliams

Actor and Activist

Alumni Arena - UB North Campus
102 Alumni Arena
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States

A native of Chicago and graduate of Temple University, Jesse Williams began his professional career teaching high school in low income Philadelphia public charter schools. From there he moved to New York City and, after working at a law firm, began his professional acting career, performing off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theatre under the direction of award-winning playwright Edward Albee in “The Sandbox.”

Williams is ‘Dr. Jackson Avery’ in ABC’s hit series “Grey’s Anatomy.”  He served as senior producer and correspondent for the EPIX docuseries “America Divided” with Norman Lear. He also executive produced the documentary “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement,” which premiered summer 2016. His feature credits also include Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” “The Cabin in the Woods,” “Brooklyn’s Finest,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “They Die By Dawn,” and 2017 releases, “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Band Aid.”

Williams is founder of the production company, farWord Inc. and the executive producer of “Question Bridge: Black Males,” a series of transmedia art installations, films, curriculum and website ( The exhibition was an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival New Frontiers and continues to be exhibited in museums nationwide.

Off screen, Williams co-hosts the sports and culture-themed podcast “Open Run,” through a partnership with LeBron James’ digital network, Uninterrupted. He is co-owner of Scholly, a mobile app that connects students to scholarships for which they’re eligible. Additionally, Williams and partners launched Ebroji, the first curated GIF keyboard designed specifically to enhance the way we already communicate.

Williams gained international attention for his acceptance speech when presented with the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award as a champion of civil rights. He also sits on the Board of Directors of Advancement Project, a leading national civil rights advocacy organization and Harry Belafonte’s arts and social justice organization