Jesse Williams

Williams in 2011, s_bukley / Shutterstock.comcom

Birth Name: Jesse Wesley Vickers Williams

Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Date of Birth: August 5, 1980

*father – African-American
*mother – English, Swedish

Jesse Williams is an American actor, director, producer, and activist. He is known for his roles in the films The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Brooklyn’s Finest, The Cabin in the Woods, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Snake & Mongoose, Money (2016), Band Aid, Selah and the Spades, Jacob’s Ladder (2019), Random Acts of Violence, Secret Headquarters, and Your Place or Mine; on the series Beyond the Break, Grey’s Anatomy, Little Fires Everywhere, Station 19, and Only Murders in the Building; and in the video game Detroit: Become Human. He has been an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, and spoke regarding black civil rights at the 2016 BET awards.

Jesse is the son of Johanna Putnam Chase, a professional potter, and Reginald Keith Vickers Williams, a teacher. His father is from Valdosta, Georgia, and is African-American. Jesse’s mother is white; her own father was from an upper-class WASP family, with deep New England roots, and her own mother was of Swedish descent. Jesse’s mother was partly raised on a farmhouse in Wilton, Connecticut. His parents were liberal activists in the 1970s. His maternal great-grandfather was Dean of freshmen at Harvard University. His maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather was mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch.

Jesse has two children with his former wife Aryn Drake-Lee. Aryn is African-American.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2024) stated that Jesse’s genetic ancestry consists of:

*57% European
——–*35% Sweden & Denmark
——–*11% England & NW Europe
——–*5% Norway
——–*4% Ireland
——–*1% Baltics
——–*1% Eastern Europe & Russia
——–*1% Wales
——–*1% Scotland
*43% African
——–*24% Nigeria
——–*7% Ivory Coast & Ghana
——–*6% Cameroon Congo & Western Bantu Peoples
——–*5% Mali
——–*1% Senegal

Jesse had stated that his father also has Seminole Native American ancestry. No Native American genetic markers appeared on his DNA test.

Jesse’s paternal grandfather was John Wesley Williams (the son of Nathan/Nathaniel Williams, Jr. and Elvia Hadley). John was born in Boston, Georgia. Elvia was the daughter of Isaac Hadley, who owned land, and of Frances. Isaac’s own father, July Hadley, likely was born into slavery.

Jesse’s maternal grandfather was Epes Dixwell “Dick” Chase (the son of Philip Putnam Chase and Anna Cornelia Wigglesworth). Epes was born in Milton, Norfolk, Massachusetts. He was a newsman, who was owner and operator of a boat yard, Orienta Marine Corp., on Long Island Sound, Mamaroneck, New York. Jesse’s great-grandfather Philip P. Chase was a director of Harvard University summer school, and Dean of freshmen at Harvard. He lived to 100. He was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the son of Philip Augustus Chase and Alice Breed Peirce. Jesse’s great-grandmother Anna was the daughter of George Wigglesworth and Mary Catherine Dixwell. George was president of the York Manufacturing Company, in textiles, and was on other boards of directors. Mary’s father, Epes Sargent Dixwell, was a teacher and master in the Boston Latin and English high schools. Mary’s maternal grandfather was Nathaniel Bowditch. Through his Bowditch line, Jesse is a third cousin, five times removed, of author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Jesse’s maternal grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Anderson (the daughter of Bert George Anderson and Florence Elizabeth Olund). Jesse’s grandmother Mary Elizabeth was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jesse’s great-grandfather Bert was a doctor, who spent time in practice at Peking Union Medical Center in Beijing, in China; where Mary Elizabeth’s brother Sven was born. Bert was the son of Swedish parents, Bengte/Bengt E. Anderson and Gustava C. Jesse’s great-grandmother Florence was a nurse and professional singer. She was the daughter of Swedish parents, Emil Olund and Inga Sofia Ekström/Eckström, who was from Berseryd Parish. Inga and was a singer in her youth, including with a singing quarter which toured major venues in the U.S.

Sources: Genealogy of Jesse’s maternal grandfather, Epes Dixwell “Dick” Chase (focusing on his own mother’s side) –

Jesse’s maternal grandfather, Epes Dixwell “Dick” Chase, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Obituary of Jesse’s maternal grandfather, Epes Dixwell “Dick” Chase –

Obituary of Jesse’s maternal great-grandfather, Philip Putnam Chase –

Jesse’s maternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Anderson) Chase –


Curious about ethnicity

42 Responses

  1. Malefactor says:

    He’s ugly and looks like a troll. Has a real punchable face. Would love to sock him with a left hook.

  2. Connerfromvine says:

    his father might have also had some mixture from the 19th century, generally when someone has blue eyes, both parents carry the gene.

  3. cwm85 says:

    A mixed guy who doesn’t care for his European heritage. Why do so many mixed black people, celebs ignore their European side?

    • midori29 says:

      Cause a lot of white and non blacks are racist and stereotypical toward black people . Many do not take the time to befriend black people, study black history or know anything about Africa. Its so sad. Africa is a huge continent with many different countries. Then some say ignorant things that they do not even realize sound bad.

  4. M says:

    He is handsome.

  5. Capricious says:

    Definitely looks his ancestry.

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