You might watch him every week on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Jackson Avery, but how much do you really know about actor Jesse Williams in real life? You probably know he’s handsome (duh), and you may have heard that he’s kind of in the middle of a messy divorce. But other than that, what have you got? Nothing? OK, we’re here to change that. Scroll down to see everything you need to know about Jesse (and Dr. Avery).
His character on Grey’s wasn’t initially meant to be a series regular.
We first met Dr. Avery in season six when he was a surgical resident at Mercy West Medical Center that came to work at Seattle Grace when the two hospitals merged. Back then, his storyline was all about him trying to fit in at his new work setting. Since then, though, Jackson has gotten much more comfortable in his surroundings (he became a series regular in season seven), and now, eight seasons later, it’s hard to imagine the show without him.
Currently, Jackson is the chairman of the board of directors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. In the past, he was married to Dr. April Kepner, but the couple is now divorced. Together, the pair have a daughter, Harriet, together and sadly, they also had a son, who died shortly after birth.
Jesse as Jackson on Grey’s Anatomy.
Jesse’s divorce has gotten ugly in real life.
Back in April, Jesse split from his wife, real estate broker Aryn Drake-Lee, after five years of marriage. The pair have stayed mum on exactly what went wrong in their relationship, but we do know that they have been embroiled in a heated custody battle over their two children, Maceo and Sadie, resulting in the actor suing his ex.
In court docs obtained by E! News, the 36-year-old said, “Aryn restricts my time with the children and decides when, and for how long I may have them. She has rejected, without any reason, each and every request I have made to have the children sleepover at my residence.” Jesse also alleged that Aryn has “insisted that his time with the children be limited during the week to approximately two and half hours per day.” Ouch!
Jesse and his estranged wife, Aryn.
He’s since been linked to actress Minka Kelly.
Not long after his divorce proceedings began, people started speculating that Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly was the person who came between Jesse and Aryn — though both have denied it vehemently. In July, Jesse addressed the rumors in Jay Z’s short film, Footnotes for 4:44, saying, “I was in a relationship 13 years, 13 real years, not five years, not seven years — 13 years. All of a sudden [people] are writing think-pieces that I somehow threw a 13-year relationship… and my family in the trash because a girl I work with is cute.”
Recently, Minka also denied the rumors in an Instagram post, telling people to “f—k off.” After a fan commented on a photo Minka posted, “I hope the cheating rumors aren’t true. It would be disappointing,” the actress quickly shot back, “They’re not. Hate for you to be disappointed. Glad I could clear that up for you. Now f—k off.” The follower’s comment has since been deleted, but Minka’s is still there.
Jesse (left) and Minka (right).
He was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards.
In June 2016, BET announced that Jesse would be taking home the coveted prize for all of the work he’s done with the Black Lives Matter movement. He served as an executive producer for the BET documentary Stay Woke and he’s also the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group.
He’s in the app biz.
Jesse, along with his ex-wife and a few friends, is a co-founder of the Ebroji app, an add-on to your keyboard that inserts funny and/or politically-relevant GIFs and emojis into text conversations. Ebroji also sells merch, such as t-shirts and hats for which Jesse is (obviously) the model. Both Jesse and his ex promote Ebroji in their Instagram bios, but no word as to how business is working out between the two since they’ve split.