Jesse Williams Controversy: He Responds to Criticism of His 2016 Bet Awards Speech


Jesse Wesley Williams is an American filmmaker, producer, and activist. From 2009 until 2012, he starred as Dr. Jackson Avery on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and he also appeared in the films The Cabin in the Woods (2012), The Butler (2013), and Band-Aid (2017). He also assisted Markus with voice acting and motion capture in Detroit: Become Human (2018.)

Several projects

Jesse Williams worked as a model throughout college for Kenneth Cole Productions, Levi’s, and Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, among others. He appears in Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette” music video from her 2009 album Rated R, as well as Estelle’s “Fall In Love” music video from her album All of Me.

jesse williams controversy

Williams provided the voice of Markus in the PlayStation 4 game Detroit: Become Human, which was released on May 25, 2018. He also provided the voice of Duke in NBA 2K21, which was released worldwide on September 4, 2020, for a variety of consoles.

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Jesse Williams is embroiled in a controversy

Jesse Williams, an actor, and activist went viral in 2016 after giving an emotional speech at the BET Awards, where the Grey’s Anatomy actress, who received the Humanitarian Award, spoke out against police brutality and other issues affecting the Black community. Williams was praised in some circles, but he was also chastised.

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 39-year-old examined the reception to his speech. “At the same time, I grew in popularity.” People felt as if they truly understood who I was and that I would have a significant impact. At the time, a lot of people were telling stories that questioned Black people’s humanity, and I wasn’t one of them. So, if I’m working with you, we’ll have to get rid of that overly racist trope and focus on that,” Williams said.

“Yes, I’ve had a lot of extremely specific death threats and lost a few jobs as a result,” he admitted, “but I’m sure there are things I’ve gained as well.”

Williams also revealed that he had turned down a number of options

“I was offered major covers, profiles, and photo sessions after that, but I couldn’t bear the thought of making a fortune off of our misery.” I didn’t want to make money off of it or turn into a celebrity. I’m genuinely in the streets, witnessing people risk their lives organizing from Ferguson to Philadelphia to Oakland and wherever else I’ve been, and I’m not trying to pose for a photo shoot and pretend this isn’t racial injustice.

In addition to continuing his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, he has moved into the tech world with Visibility Media, which created the Black trivia gaming app BLeBRiTY and now Ya T Sabes, a gaming app for the Latinx community.

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jesse williams controversy

“I’ve spent my entire life in close proximity to white gatekeepers,” Williams said of working in a field dominated by white men in technology. “I went to a privileged white high school, and the tech industry is no different. It’s a challenging task that I enjoy. We’ve had a lot of good times and a lot of bad times.”

“And there’s a split there,” he added, “because certain things are purposely dismissive and racist, and sometimes they don’t even realize they’re exotifying, perverting, or ghettoizing Black and brown culture in a way they’d like if it looked like some white-girl popstar.”

“You pick and choose,” Williams added, “much like in a social situation where someone says some absurd, idiotic nonsense and you either call it out and stop the flow or say whatever and keep moving on.”

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