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Everybody Makes Such a Big Deal – Tony-Nominated Jesse Williams
Everybody Makes Such A Big Deal tony-nominated jesse williams
Despite his long-running and much-loved presence on the American television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Jesse Williams has always walked into Broadway theater with a sense of humility, reverence and a pinch of fear. But his first show on the Great White Way, Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out, has been a transformative experience for the actor, and has helped him find a deeper connection to his personal story.
“The play is an exploration of conditionality, which I think is a really important theme. It’s about the things that you have to do in order to get where you want to be.”
The play centers around Darren Lemming, played by Williams, who is a gay man of color on a professional baseball team. Throughout the play, he grapples with his sexuality and how that affects his teammates.
As a Black, queer athlete in a society that still isn’t completely accepting of their existence, Darren’s struggles are an important part of the larger conversation about race and gender. It’s an incredibly challenging role, and Williams has been proud to use it as a platform for his work as an activist and actor.
He also credits his time on the stage as an opportunity to tell his own story and explore how he relates to Darren’s struggles. He’s a strong advocate for LBGTQIA people and has taken part in many conversations about racial profiling in sports.
Williams grew up in Rhode Island and attended Moses Brown High School. He also attended Temple University, where he received a double major in Film and Media Arts and African-American Studies.
After graduating, he joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, and eventually became a series regular and executive producer. During that time, he also directed and acted in several movies and short films.
Ultimately, his work on the ABC series inspired him to pursue acting full-time and to take on roles that are challenging and emotionally complex. He has since earned multiple accolades for his work and is well on his way to earning his first Tony Award nomination.
Nominations were announced for the 75th Annual Tony Awards on Monday, and Williams is one of five finalists for best performance in a play. He is up against Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer for his role in the revival of Take Me Out.
When the nominations were announced, Twitter went wild over a video of Williams performing in the Broadway revival of Take Me Out. The footage showed the actor fully naked on stage.
The clip landed Williams on social media’s most-searched list and has led to some heated debate about his performance. On Monday, Williams appeared on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen to discuss his stripped-down act and whether he is comfortable with the attention.
In his acceptance speech for the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award, Williams said that his “personal journey to find peace and healing has been a resoundingly rewarding experience.” He believes that his theatrical debut was a necessary step in his career. It helped him become a more honest and authentic performer, and he hopes to continue to bring his personal story to light in his work.