Jesse Williams’ good looks have only begun to take a backseat to his penchant for pertinent discussion about racial injustice with the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement. Before his hard-hitting quotes surrounding the killings of blacks by police and the disparities between black and white communities, Williams was just “that fine-ass man on Grey’s Anatomy” to most. In a recent interview with The Guardian, the actor/activist candidly discussed advantages afforded to him because people believe he is attractive.
“To some people I might be a celebrity because I’m physically attractive. We are programmed to believe that someone is attractive because they told you that blue eyes are hot. I am not going to participate in that s**t,” he said. “I aim to do what I can with what I have. And I have my [looks] – you know, European beauty standards give me access to things.”
Also offering commentary on his experience as a biracial kid growing up, Williams recalled moving from a predominantly black community in Chicago, to a predominantly white one in Massachusetts. Later becoming the co-president of his school’s black student union, Williams shared that his biracial status exposed him to attitudes from both sides of the spectrum.
“I have access to rooms and information. I am white and I am also black. I am invisible man in a lot of these scenarios,” he said. “I know how white people talk about black people. I know how black people talk about white folks. I know I am there and everyone speaks honestly around me.”
Reminiscing on one such moment, Williams shared an anecdote involving the mother of a friend of his, who told him, “You’re not black.”
“I remember a mom of a friend of mine in the suburbs made some comment about a black person and – I had to be 12, about 60 pounds – and I said something and she said: ‘Oh no, not you. You are not black. You are great.’ It was real. That f**king happened. And she meant it. And she meant it sincerely and sweetly. She was paying me a compliment.”
Williams also discussed his aspirations to be a civil rights attorney, and the days he spent as a teacher. Read the full The Guardian feature here.