Jesse Williams: Hollywood fuels racism with stereotypical minority roles

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams isn’t just a pretty face known for his long run on Grey’s Anatomy and films like The Butler. He’s a socially conscious actor and an incredibly educated person. He’s not afraid to take a stand against the mainstream, even though his outspokenness must surely cost him roles. Just one example of Jesse’s articulate nature is this critical CNN essay of Django Unchained, which he called a “lazy, oversimplified reduction” of slavery in the United States. Jesse has spoken with many media outlets over the years. He’s motivated to expose double standards and scrutinize media narratives in their portrayal of race.

Jesse gave an impromptu street interview that surfaced on YouTube. He criticizes how stereotypes in Hollywood inform the public and fuel racism. He covers many examples of racism in America, including poverty and crime rates. The full interview is here, but these excerpts focus on the Exodus problem. Jesse’s perspective is that studios block minorities from big budget roles, which forces them into stereotypical roles (such as playing the bad guys in crime dramas). Jesse believes the problem is circular, and Hollywood is a huge part of why racism still exists:

On media stereotypes: “It’s hard to relate to things you can’t relate to. By the way if you don’t live around black folks and you just watch tv, you’re going to be racist. I’d be racist! It’s a mathematical equation. You and the media and a fake a** history system that makes you believe that white people created any of this makes you think that black people ain’t worth a damn. Of course, that’s the way the algorithm works. So you need to put an effort forth. Just like what was happening in the gay rights community. Back when I was a kid, everybody said f*g. Because we didn’t know anybody that was gay and that’s what people said. And you meet some people and you step forward instead of back and you realize ‘Oh, that’s a human being. I’m an a*hole. I shouldn’t be talking like that. That hurts people. And you move forward. Look how quickly the gay rights movement moved forward that also involves white folks and gay people are a part of your family. Black people aren’t necessarily a part of your family, unless they are.”

On causality & the Exodus problem: “It’s like understanding Gun, Germs and Steel, what really emboldens white supremacy to wonder why you’re so dominant. [It’s] a very important text to understand the intersection of coincidence and why we think it’s ok to have a movie like f***ing Exodus where white people look ridiculous dressed like Africans. You look ridiculous because we know it’s make believe. But it’s just a movie, it’s just a movie.’ Nah. It ain’t just a movie. That’s the sh*t that gets Mike Brown killed. All of this stuff is connected.”

Racism in Hollywood: “And that’s what you learn out there in Hollywood playing games. You know how many f***ing jobs I have to turn down and how many people I have to fire because of the racist sh*t I get offered? And I’m as white as you can get being a black person. I have a f***ing struggle. You got to decide whether to wear a du-rag and rob some white person on a tv show or pay your mortgage and raise your family. And that’s no f***ing joke. Those are five of my closest friends who have to decide every three days whether they want to chip away at their own soul and chip away a piece of themselves to dance and shuck and jive for white America. To f***ing rob some white person on tv or play some demonstratively black piece of sh*t in some movie in order to pay their rent. 35-40 year old grown a** men with degrees. It drives people insane to be constantly smushed. And that’s lovely Hollywood, that’s not Ferguson, Missouri.”

[From YouTube]

Jesse is so well-spoken. Even with all of the f-bombs, he still makes his points known. He’s tired of watching Hollywood push stereotypes, and he knows that some viewers (conscious or not) will sit in their living rooms and judge minorities based upon what they see in movies. Is there a solution? Actors can only starve for so long before they accept stereotypical roles in order to keep working. A huge part of the problem occurs when Ridley Scott and Christian Bale point towards money as the reason behind their casting controversy. Although it is hilarious to see that Exodus won’t come close to recouping its huge budget (and promotional costs).

Jesse Williams

Photos courtesy of WENN

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90 Responses to “Jesse Williams: Hollywood fuels racism with stereotypical minority roles”

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  1. Toot says:

    He’s so hot and intelligent, and to think he was a High School teacher before he turned to acting full time. Can you imagine seeing him all day as a student? lol

    • Someonestolemyname says:

      He’s gorgeous.

      Hollywood is racist as far as roles,especially if you are ethnic and just starting out . I was driving one friend to an audition ( her car broke down) and she was sent a link to the “sides” for her cold reading for a small part in a film and it was of a prostitute. She made me turn the car around and refused to go. She Called the agent and said stop submitting her for prostitutes. She’s African American and Latino.

    • Senaber says:

      Damn. New crush.

    • littlestar says:

      He’s one of the few reasons why I still watch Grey’s. He and his character make the show somewhat interesting!

  2. AuroraO says:

    I don’t think he has to rob anyone playing a plastic surgeon on GA.

    • serena says:

      So what, just because he found a role he liked after struggling -as he said- he’s got no right to speak up?

    • Icy blue says:

      Uhmm. And, is that the norm in Hollywood for ethnic actors? A resounding No, it would be then wouldn’t it?

    • Sarah says:

      But that roll will come to an end and he knows it. Sooner rather than later.

    • jaye says:

      What do you mean by that? I’m not challenging you (for now), but do you mean that he can’t complain because he has a role as a surgeon on a hit tv show? The way you snapped at Serena leads me to believe that you DIDN’T mean that. If that wasn’t your point, what was?

    • Yup, Me says:

      He has also spoken quite openly about recognizing the privilege he has as someone with fair skin and blue eyes.

      • TremeHBOfangrl says:

        He’s still identifiably BLACK – so that don’t mean jack. Ain’t no way, someone is mistaking Jesse Williams, Vanessa Williams, Steph Curry or Blake Griffin for ‘white.’ They’re just another version of ‘black,’ and there are kajillions.

  3. lisa2 says:

    I’m shocked by Exodus and Ridley.. I mean he did better with Gladiator. Such a shame. There has been a lot of backlash; not just the casting but the way they changed the story.

    Jesse is right. I for one couldn’t stand Django. Didn’t watch it in theater. To me it had nothing to do with addressing slavery.

    I wonder why there are not more black actors producing their own movies and TV shows. There are enough to get together and try to make things happen. And it is bothersome that successful Black actors are not opening doors for these other actors.. I don’t see Will or Denzel doing that right now.

    • Delueth says:

      Both Will and Denzel sid what they could when they could. Will did back TV shows with black casts fyi. I believe he produced Hawthorne as well as the sitcom with Duanne Martin. And he has spoken about Denzel mentoring him onto the big screen. Denzel made a conscious effort to pivk empowered roles even though those films just didnt make money at the box office. They are both in decline so I dont know what you want of them now.

    • Jayna says:

      Jay Z and Will produced Annie that just came out on the big screen. We went to support it. The little girls loved it.

      Tyler Perry has a couple of shows on Oprah’s Network that are doing well.

    • Amy says:

      It’s a money and accessibility issue. A lot of black millionaires actually do what they can and still studios don’t necessarilly give them all their backing and support.

      Then they always make the defense of ‘These types of stories don’t sell’ so even with a millionaire’s backing if it’s not up to someone else’s satisfaction it can still be dropped. Or the millionaire basically has to finance the whole thing.

      Then you have the struggle on the part of the viewer. A black person may simply not like the show being put out (I go through this with Tyler Perry) but at the same time feel frustrated that if they don’t support ‘this’ venture then they’re betraying their people. TV is supposed to be a place of entertainment and escape and sometimes all these negative feelings can kill a show.

      • Someonestolemyname says:

        A friend just went through years of training in a theater school. She told me all the white students in class were chosen to play Egyptians while the black students were put in the slave roles for some play they were doing.
        I told her, I had been traveling through Europe and most of the Egyptian’s I met during my travels were Black and the African American students would have been good in the roles.
        She said the instructor said the Egyptians were white, thats why the blond ,redhaired, brunette and blue eyed white students were given the roles of Egyptians. I was like WTF?

      • Amy says:

        Yeah I hate to say it but while I’m generally very excited and supportive of my friends going into any unusual field I just can’t muster up the support for my friends going into acting.

        I just don’t see the opportunities for people of color I. That field is a microcosm for the racism and ignorance present in this country.

        The racism that allows people to fantasize that there’s room for error in Cleopatra’s ethnicity, a real individual in history, but fictional characters such as James Bond, Storm Troopers or Annie being black? No that’s unacceptable! The characters are white! How dare someone disrespect the source material! Eye roll.

    • delorb says:


      I don’t think you should have entered a Tarantino film expecting it to address slavery. I mean, come on. Jeez. This is the same guy who had no problems throwing around the n-word. You don’t go see a Tarantino film for the historical accuracy. I hate Tarantino, but I loved Django. I loved it for what it was, a 70’s throw-back film where the black guy wins. Oscar worthy? Hells no. Deep? Double hells no. Christoph earned his Oscar though.

      As for Jesse, isn’t his sig other on the TV show a white woman? Talk about a stereotype.

      • Tessy says:

        I don’t see any stereotypes in Gray’s. He also dated a black woman before he married his white woman. His black mother in the show is a high powered doctor, there’s a black chief surgeon highly respected by all, there was an Asian doctor first with a black man then with a redhead. A white couple adopted a black baby and that woman has a black sister who’s father was the chief of staff when he was a young man. A lesbian couple, one Latina and one white who have a baby. I like that show because of the diversity and disregard for the shade of one’s complexion and who they love, and if all things were right in the world that is how it would be.

      • andypandy says:

        @ Tess
        Yes Grays is a diverse case but it often pursues that diversity at the expense of the portrayal of BW/and BW/BM in healthy relationships
        You conveniently left out that his character Avery Jackson was always paired/flirting with Non Bw throughout the show and the one time he briefly dated a BW it was to humiliate her by proposing to his current white wife at her wedding
        One stereotype that Grays enforces is the successful BM only pursuing romantically Non BW (every single BM that has been on this show with one exception has been paired with a non -BW )
        As for the lone BW regular Dr Bailey even though I love her she has some stereotypical qualities i.e plus size bossy and somewhat asexual it took 6 seasons for her to have any kind of love life

        LOL Been binge watching

      • TremeHBOfangrl says:

        Andypandy, the chief on Grays, the top guy – black, had a black wife and now a black love interest (Debbie Allen), Isaiah Washington was with Christina (Asian American), and Avery, being the very fine, very wealthy heir to the entire dang hospital is going to have every woman of every hue looking his way, it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. I still think sistah girl has a hold on him, and when/if she finds her new sig other, we might see the new groom blanch a bit.

      • andypandy says:

        I’m not sure what the point of your post is . I really don’t care who dates who on the show My substantive point to Tess still stands in that Greys is not free from stereotype’s and “(every single BM that has been on this show with one exception has been paired with a non -BW )” is one such stereotype

        The Chief and his wife had an awful acrimonious relationship and The elder Dr Grey was The Love of his love . As for Dr Burkes romance The last time I checked Korean wasn’t Black As for Avery I fully expect him to be paired with Non -BW hes been with at least 3 in the relatively short time hes on the show (just not sure why they bothered to introduce a Black GF where they had zero chemistry for her just to be publically humiliated by him declaring his love to a another woman at her wedding )
        In the meantime with the exception of Yang the White Men are very busy pursuing WW . So yeh back to # Tesses Post it easy to not see any stereotypes kumbaya love who you love when you are the center of the universe

    • jaye says:

      Production of a project requires backing from a studio, most of the time. Will Smith and Denzel Washington may have a lot of clout in Hollywood, but they don’t have the power to green light a project. In that respect, they struggle just as much as anyone. And they HAVE opened doors for other black actors. Just being at the level they are opens the doors a little bit more. A lot of the success of an actor depends on whether or not a studio will give them the opportunity to do more than just the stereotypical African American role. And as the Sony hack has proven, actors don’t dictate what happens behind the scenes. They’re just highly paid employees.

  4. Kali says:

    Just to double down on just how egregiously bad the whitewashed casting in “Exodus” was, they had Ewen Bremner as a fairly notable “adviser” role to Ramses (he’s only on for about 5 minutes but it’s a part that makes an impression). Now, Ewen Bremner is a FANTASTIC actor. He’s a lot like Alan Tudyk – hasn’t really got the name recognition yet but he’s usually the best part of whatever he pops up in. If you don’t know who Ewen Bremner is off the top of your head, this is him.

    He was cast as an Egyptian advisor. Yeah.

    • Val says:

      I live and France and “accidentally” went to watch Exodus, being unaware of the casting issues, and I was shocked watching it that most of the “Egyptians” were basically blackface. WTH! A white Aussie playing Ramses, seriously?! Un-be-effing-lievable. Plus what an opportunity to introduce an interesting, new face! This makes me so angry.

    • delorb says:

      I do love Ewen, ever since seeing Trainspotting. But, he’s not well known. IMO, if you’re going to go with a (relatively) unknown person anyway, why not use a black actor? What’s funny, but not haha, is Hollywood’s tendency to use any minority as a substitute for another other. Need Egyptians? Hire a Latino. Need a Latino? Any brown actor will do.

    • solanaceae (Nighty) says:

      Really?? I haven’t seen Exodus,but that makes no sense, an australian playing ramses… What do you learn in History in the USA if I may ask???

      • Yup, Me says:

        Depending on where one is in America, one may learn all manner of versions of history and pro- American propaganda (look at Texas and recent efforts to rewrite history as it relates to slavery). Unfortunately, there’s quite a lot of focus on what white/Euro/Anglo folk were up to in our general history courses and the histories of the POCs (who are also Americans) are often treated as special side courses that one has to specifically seek out to learn more about. Unfortunately, this contributes to an idea that white folk are the American entree and everyone else is a special seasoned side dish.

  5. Birdie says:

    I love this guy. Google his wife, so sweet to see he didn’t chase an 18-year-old VS model.

  6. Ag says:

    That’s deep $hit. I wish more people would think and talk about those issues.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah, I like what he has to say but the question is will TPTB listen to him? On a related note, I have noticed that in advertising, casting seems to include a lot more people of color these days than 10-15 years ago when I was fully immersed in the industry. My clients were always conscious of portraying “diversity” but things seem to have progressed a bit since then. A small step, maybe?

      • Ag says:

        i’m not too optimistic that TPTB are willing to change what’s entrenched. but, like you said, things have changed a tiny bit, at least in advertising – i have noticed it, and i rarely watch tv, only see stuff in passing. i wish things would change faster.

      • Amy says:

        You know there was a really good article floating around about how it’s now more common place to advertise with people of color (especially black women with natural hair! Yay!) and homosexuality but the standard now is ‘Upper Class’.

        Which is to say you can show a black couple or a gay couple for your product, and them being black or gay won’t seem so prominent if they are seen as ‘comfortably wealthy’ to potential customers. Interesting idea.

      • Esmom says:

        Amy, that’s interesting and I guess I have noticed that. I think all advertising tends to sugar coat the reality of people who might be struggling financially…it’s supposed to be “aspirational,” which is really a crock when you think about the difficulties many people face, regardless of race.

      • Ag says:

        interesting. and a downer, in some ways. i guess money is the great equalizer now? it’s “ok” to be black or gay, as long as you’re loaded? sigh.

        i always think about what is supposed to be the “aspirational” part of advertising during the holidays, when it’s prob most jarring. “here is a new car, honey, with a giant bow on top, that i got you for christmas!” in real life, “what the hell?! we’re an extra 60k in debt now?!?!? that you unilaterally decided to take on?!?!” would follow that.

      • Amy says:

        LMAO, exactly Ag.

        I especially love the new commercials with various British actors commenting on power and control playing these villainous characters…and then using that as a selling point for cars.

        Yes let’s give the accountant from Tampa an ego boost to pretend he’s Bond while giving him car notes for months to come.

      • Amy says:

        And yes it really makes you think about what message were sending and the ignorance in it, “These people are okay because they’re not the -blank- ones. No these ones have money! Clearly they’re a higher class than those ‘other’ ones. They’re good enough for us to buy this product/item (apartment advertisements were what they really focused on in the article).”

      • Esmom says:

        Amy & Ag, you’re right, it’s pretty despicable. And as for companies promoting debt, don’t get me started. One of my clients was a credit card company whose sole mission was to get people to spend beyond their means and never pay it off because that type of customer was most profitable for them. UGH.

      • Trashaddict says:

        I honestly think that Obama’s election had a lot to do with the increase in casting black actors. It seems like there are still thug portrayals (sorry, for lack of better word), so I agree with him Jesse Williams that it’s a pretty poor selection of characters. That’s endemic with all races and ethnicities in Hollywood but there’s a lot further to go for nuanced roles for people of color. I would love to see Idris Elba do James Bond.

  7. tifzlan says:

    Love love love Jesse Williams, especially the fact that he backs up everything he says with action.

  8. Duckie says:

    I LOVE him! He’s so smart and eloquent, plus he’s an activist in the true meaning of the word.
    You can see he used to be a teacher.

  9. TeresaMaria says:

    You can agree or disagree with Jesse, but at least he speaks his mind. He just does not stand quietly in the corner or talk about commercial/safe stuff. He gets the discussion going and that’s what matters.

  10. Abby says:

    I love him, especially now thatI know he’s more than a hot dr. on Greys. I really appreciate the viewpoint and conversation he’s bringing to the table.

  11. Jayna says:

    That’s why when people make fun of Tyler Perry, at least on Oprah’s network he has several original series on which the majority of the roles in the shows are black actors. A couple of the younger actors are stiff and not great actors, but he is giving black actors roles to get experience in and learn their craft on a weekly TV series and giving experienced actors roles.

    • Amy says:

      Especially. Tyler has struggled with his form of entertainment that would appeal to black families (good or bad) but for a while the only place black people seemed to get recurring prominent work was his films. I may not love all his work but I can admit he did what others wouldn’t and he did it from being homeless when there were people who could have helped before him.

      • Alicia says:

        Agree with both of you. I don’t care for Tyler Perry’s films or TV shows, but I totally get why they are popular, He serves a need for people who don’t often see themselves on the screen in extensive movie and TV roles. He gives black actors/actresses and black writers/crew members work experience in Hollywood that they are otherwise denied.

    • Someonestolemyname says:

      I love Tyler Perry. I’ve had arguments with some who hate the man, but I always say look he is making a contribution and creating jobs for people.
      I love Tyler, I love his own history, I love what he is doing, even though his stories have big holes in them and need work, I still like what he does.

  12. Norman Bates' Mother says:

    His words are very true and could be extended for a wide range of minorities – basically anyone who isn’t in a narrow group of white, good-looking people born in the USA or UK. I can’t add much to the discussion about a treatment of black people other than that I agree with everything he said. I’m white but Polish and in Hollywood the only roles for Slavic actors are those of Russian mobsters with highly exaggerated accents, even though historically comparing Russians and Poles is as offensive as comparing Irish and English people. If not Russian mobsters, we are portrayed as lazy, drunk slobs, thieves, prostitutes and idiots. When there’s a movie about Slavs, who are not criminals, they cast American and English actors who pretend to be Slavic like in a Grand Budapest Hotel (I loved that movie but still). Italians are either mobsters or owners of pizzerias, Indians are taxi drivers, Germans are nazis, little people are Christmas elves, obese people are hilarious sidekicks etc etc. It enrages me the most how Native American actors are treated. In most movies and tv shows it’s like they don’t even exist in a modern world. They are as unimportant for the film-makers that they don’t even bother with a token Native characters. Graham Greene is one of the best actors out there and the most “prominent” role he had in years was an extended cameo in Twilight. Which still was probably a success because he didn’t have to wear leather and chase “poor, tormented” cowboys with a tomahawk.

    • Charlie says:

      Yes! I also can’t comment on people of other races or ethnicities, but it angers me the way Slavic people are portrayed.
      Furthermore, I’m from the Balkans. Everytime they show us they portay us like some war-crazy savages living in a crime ridden country ( that’s especially funny considering that by a study dome by the UN, the Balkans is one of the safest places in the world, you are less likely to get robbed or attacked here than in the US or Western Europe).

      Rade Šerbedžija is one of the best, if not THE best actor I ever had the pleasure of seeing, yet the only roles he gets are Russian mobsters.

    • vauvert says:

      Amen! The only time I hear anyone mention Greeks or Romanians (I am a mix of the two) it is an exaggerated caricature…. Either an overbearing fat mamma with a bad accent and unplucked eyebrows or a bleached hooker, if not a starved orphan in an orphanage. Please…. Sebastian Stan is hopefully giving Romanians a better name/visibility now, and luckily in Europe the Romanian film industry is better acknowledged with some of the directors and actors getting critical acclaim. But as nationalities go, being portrayed on screen, it is a joke.

      That is why I keep hoping that shows like Marco Polo (Netflix) will get people watching and talking… The history bit may not be fully accurate, but they cast amazing actors and with the exception of a few guys (Marco and his dad and uncle) they were all “minority” actors, and did an incredible job. If the show gets positive reviews and word of mouth it would help prove, yet again, that people will watch quality. Even when the actors are not white (why would I care about that, I just want good acting), when they are not big names, and so on.

    • TeresaMaria says:

      I could not agree with you more!

  13. snowflake says:

    he is gorgeous!

  14. Greek Chic says:

    He’s so hot.For me he was the only reason to watch grey’s anatomy at some point. Love his eyes!

  15. Mia4S says:

    Exodus is not worth talking about anymore in this context. It was apparently such a bad movie the cast (whether ethnically accurate or not) could do nothing to save it. So in Hollywood’s mind the script/director was the big issue. Plus thanks to international box office the losses will be minor. Nothing’s changed, nothing changes.

    • Jayna says:

      The movie was panned for bad directing, poor script. No one cares about this movie anyway.

    • Alicia says:

      So far it isn’t even doing well internationally (it only has a few more countries to open in January and very few of them are big market countries) and has been banned in a few countries.

      It cost $140 million to make (probably more considering movie studios always downplay costs, look at Sony saying the new Bond was only $150 million when it is actually close to $300 million and rising).

      Also, it has only made $148 million total so far (combining U.S. and international grosses) and has been out for nearly a month.
      I don’t think it’s going to make as much internationally as people think. If it cracks $200 million internationally that will be a moral victory for the studio.

      They will either make a very tiny profit on this movie or suffer a loss (which doesn’t seem to bother Murdoch – he loses tens of millions on the NY Post every year and just shrugs his shoulders).

      I know it’s mean to say this but I’m glad this movie is doing poorly. The arrogance of Murdoch, Ridley Scott and some of the actors in brushing off concerns about the movie’s casting was bothersome.

      • Sophie says:

        Plus, you have to remember that the studio only pulls in 50% of what the movie makes in theaters. The studio and movie theaters split the profits two ways. If the movie cost $140-$175M to make, $15-$20M to promote… then they need at least $175-$200M in studio profits just to break even. Currently, it has pulled in $148M total world-wide, which means the studio has only recouped $75M. Considering word of mouth is really what keeps movies making money after the premiere, I wouldn’t expect the studio to get under $100M in losses.

    • Dena says:

      Not a movie goer & haven’t seen Exodus BUT I overheard a conversation re: the film the other day. The conversation was about the burgeoning market for Christian [read evangelical] themed films with “white” Christians being the targeted audience. So, in that respect, accuracy (where ethnicity) is concerned) isn’t a high priority. The only color that is respected is green 💲. The people who were talking also talked about some of the recent animated films that had a religions them (Frozen?) It’s an untapped market.

      I’m not telling u what I know but I am telling u what I heard. Just saying. Shrugs shoulders.

      • I guess it’s because my dad is one of the rare few men (in my town) that is part of a mixed race family, but he asked me if I thought “Exodus” was going to be any good (because he’s a Christian and is STILL pissed at “Noah”), and I told him that they whitewashed everything, so he refuses to see it now.

  16. Tiffany27 says:

    Love is not a strong enough word to describe how much I love this man.

  17. GingerCrunch says:

    He is SO swoon-worthy! And then I read this interview and my knees went weak! 😉 I’ve watched Grey’s forever, too, so I’m a bit ashamed to have treated him like total eye-candy. Wow. Just wow.

  18. Amy says:

    Wow he made a lot of amazing points and he’s right.

    People say, “If we stop talking about race then racism then racism will end.” but that’s simply not true. Tbh the people who say that are the people who strike me as having no people of color in their lives or being closely related to their experiences. He is right about the media and Hollywood and furthermore the news.

    Just as each white shooter and serial killer is some unheard anomaly and yet each black child with his pants sagging is something the ‘black community should address’. Much like how a news station admitted and apologized for misrepresenting the Ferguson protestors who were NOT shouting, ‘Kill cops!’.

    The narrative of the destructive black person, drunk Hispanic person, or incredibly intelligent Asian individual sells. It fuels money and re-assures stereotypes. It also really and truly brainwashes you if you choose not to be further informed. You’d be surprised how people let their ignorance slip based on what they’ve seen on TV. “So what’s Africa like? Are there like lions and monkeys just walking alongside people?!”

  19. kri says:

    He raises so many good points. this goes back to illustrate the reaction some people had to Idris as Bond. Not to thread jack, but it totally applies. I do believe that with people speaking out, in this case an actor, things will change. Good actors deserve good roles. It’s so simple. Let’s hope it becomes true.

  20. lucy2 says:

    I’m glad he’s speaking up on this.
    I can’t imagine how depressing it must be to want to follow your dream and be a working actor, but to only be given parts that belittle you and add to stereotypes and racism.
    Television is making some progress, but the industry overall, especially films, is still way behind the times.

    • word says:

      This type of racism exists outside of Hollywood as well. You don’t have to be an actor to experience it.

  21. jenn12 says:

    He is absolutely right. I have been curtailing how much my kids watch Disney and Nick because of the racist stereotypes. It starts there. There are no real vehicles for minority actors; Shonda Rhimes is a producer/writer with power, and even she has to load her shows with predominantly white actors. Hollywood is vile.

  22. Mimz says:

    “Jesse Williams isn’t just a pretty face known for his long run on Grey’s Anatomy and films like The Butler.”
    Yes hes not just that hes freakin HOT.

    Ok thats besides the point. I am Mozambican, and we watch a lot of foreign movies and it is a huge part of our culture. For as long as i can remember i have seen black actors portrayed as criminals, murderers,serial killers, stealing cars, being violent to their wives, unfaithful and poor and uneducated. hollywood gives us a pretty bad idea of what the black american community is like. Same goes for Latinas as maids and/or mistresses, latinos as thugs and drug mules, asians as super smart funny voiced/quirky that can kick ass,european women as high class prostitutes or very sexually liberal… (i know im generalizing but some of you already explained these stereotypes with nore detail)

    Im rambling but i guess minorities in america are put in a box, same as us black african people are put in a box that says :uneducated, poor, funny accent, dumb and oh living with elephants and simba – as if we are all still uncivilized.

    That is already sad, but what makes it worse for me is that it perpetuates this type of behaviour. People emulate what they see on tv, people assume stereotypes are depictions of reality, which is also in the root of so many prejudices…
    So it is sad that maybe in a few years Jesse will have to do a stereotypical role in a movie because he will need to pay the bills. I sincerely hope and pray that this doesnt happen but what are the chances that things will actually change?

    • COSquared says:

      YES! I’m South African and I LOATHE the “lions in the street and all the kids are starving” stereotype. It’s also quite sad that most of us black folks around the world support this industry. Another example of colour & jobs is the number of whites(male) in senior management positions in our country. Despite making up only around 10% of SA’s population, a vast majority of people in senior positions are white males(give or take 5% of our country’s population).

    • Dena says:

      And that’s the thing . . . Even from it’s inception, Hollywood exports & reinforces “American” culture & ideas–domestically & internationally. Hollywood is most people’s first introduction to the other. So think about it’s looooooooong history. Sad. Contrast that with music & how “black musical forms” have been better recieved. Both are powerful but images & how they are contextualized get reinforced over and over in the brain & psyche (and can even be thought of as propaganda on some levels). How how has Hollywood contextualized Americans?

      One of the central theme is that white folks are contented, well adjusted, patriotic, rich or middle class. The second is that whites have a lock on that and that they are a homogenous group. I don’t think I’ve ever seen some other ethnic group portrayed as being salt of the earth & dressed in the American flag ala John Wayne, etc as have whites. It’s crazy. Whites get locked into a false identity & everybody else gets locked out of . . . American-ness. I truly stopped watching TV & a lot of movies a long time ago because 1) they didn’t reflect my reality and 2) I just can’t surrender myself to someone’s “poetic license” if it requires me shallow a whole lot of BS. I just can’t. (Sorry I got a little rantty there).

      Anyway . . . The topic brings me to the Sony leaks & particularly the one where some executive said that Denzel doesn’t do well internationally because the world (outside of America or North America (I presume)) is racist. When I read that I was like WTF?!? Hollywood helped to create & maintain the very stereotypes that people hold on to.

  23. amunet ma'at says:

    I’m glad the boycott worked. This movie did not only crumble because of the script and directing. This film crumbled because many people have stated for months this movie is whitewashing biblical history. I’ve heard the argument about how other minorities or European ethnicity are presented in film, but the difference is that black culture and true history is either whitewashed or ignored systematically. This builds and internalizes racist mindset to constantly see these images reinforced. This is why Hollywood perpetuates these ideas. We can be slaves in movies, 1960 maids but not Kings and Gods we were in Egypt. That germinates a deep-seeded subconscious irrational form of hatred. It does keep the cycle going.

  24. I Choose Me says:

    I only know him as an actor on a nominal level. He’s just never been on my radar except to think when I occasionally see him, ‘that’s a good-looking man.’

    After this interview, he’s definitely on my radar. Intelligence and heart are two of the most sexiest qualities in a man.

  25. Dotty says:

    He’s not well spoken at all, dear….I worry about what you regularly read if you think that is the case! Please tell me you’re not saying that because he can string polysyllabic phrases together to illustrate a point.

    • taxi says:

      <> I didn’t know he was ever a teacher, but he sure didn’t teach grammar. If he did teach English, it’s good that he’s an ex-teacher. Actually, I thought he was smarter before I read the interview. People with college degrees who are 35-40 years old who & still settle for demeaning roles to feed their families may need to consider a line of work other than show biz. Not every person who aspires to an acting career succeeds, regardless of race.

      I agree that movies like the current “Exodus” (not the old one based on the Leon Uris novel) are anthropologically inaccurate. These flicks are made to appeal to white fundamentalist “Christians” who generally resist a lot of historical authenticity & wouldn’t pay to see an ethnically appropriate cast.

  26. Stephanie says:

    Y’all know what poppy c*** is right? You know, when a dude is trying to resist his arousal and so his penis is kind of doing a jumping dance? Everytime Jesse opens his mouth my ovaries start doing this. He’s great to look at but when he speaks I swear I can feel eggs being released. I’m so jealous of his wife.

  27. laura.e says:

    I have never wanted to be a pair of track pants so badly right now

  28. emmee says:

    “He’s so well-spoken,” said of a black man, has been mocked as a very common racist dog-whistle since Chris Rock made fun of it on SNL in the early 90s. I understand you’re trying to use it differently, just FYI.

    • brigita says:

      Jesus, thank you. “This African American actor is speaking out against racial stereotypes, isn’t he articulate?” asked cb without a hint of shitty irony.

      • Nk868 says:

        +1000000. For all the pearl clutching aggressive attacks on celebs for poor word choice, this site is so inconsistent

  29. ellesbelles says:

    I had no idea who he was until today and I hate that. I want to know more and hear more about what he has to say

  30. Vodkalovesme says:

    Rob me, Jesse!

  31. Elly says:

    I watched a few Grey´s Anatomy episodes and all i thought was how yummy this guy looks. He´s way too pretty… i want to drink your bathwater- pretty 😉

    I remember a quote from Happy Endings: Interracial babies are like god’s photoshop.