William Jackson Harper

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William Jackson Harper
William Jackson Harper at the 2018 Comic-Con International (42913092745) (cropped).jpg
Harper at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
William Fitzgerald Harper

(1980-02-08) February 8, 1980 (age 41)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Alma materCollege of Santa Fe
OccupationActor
Years active2007–present

William Jackson Harper (born William Fitzgerald Harper; February 8, 1980) is an American actor and playwright. He is best known for his role as Chidi Anagonye on the NBC comedy The Good Place (2016–2020).[1][2]

Early life[edit]

William Fitzgerald Harper[3] was born on February 8, 1980, in Dallas, Texas.[4] He graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 2003.[5] Harper chose the stage name "William Jackson Harper" when registering for the Actors' Equity Association; most permutations of "William Harper" were already in use, and he thought that "Fitzgerald" was too long. Harper opted to use the middle name "Jackson", his mother's maiden name, to honor her.[3]

Career[edit]

Harper made his NY stage debut in the 2006 Vital Theatre Company production of Full Bloom, a play about teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality.[6][7] In 2008 he performed in Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Lynn Nottage's play, Ruined, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[8][9] From 2009 to 2011, he played Danny Rebus in the PBS series The Electric Company.[10] In 2010 he appeared in the Public Theater's mobile unit production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure,[11] and in 2011 returned for Titus Andronicus, this time at the Anspacher Theater.[12] He starred as Marty Boy in debut of The Total Bent, a musical composed by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, that premiered at The Public Theater in 2012.[13][14] The show was later reworked around Ato Blankson-Wood.[15] Harper made his Broadway debut in 2014, cast as James Harrison and Stokely Carmichael in All the Way.[16] He and Carrie Coon co-starred in the 2015 Melissa James Gibson play, Placebo at Playwrights Horizon Theater.[17][18][19]

In 2016, Harper was cast on the NBC comedy The Good Place.[20] Before landing the role of Chidi Anagonye, he considered quitting acting.[21][22] Harper did not learn about the show's real premise until after he was cast.[23] His performance has received critical praise.[24][25] In 2017, in between filming the show's first and second seasons, he had a leading role in Zoe Kazan's After the Blast at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theatre.[26][27]

In 2018 Harper's play Travisville had its world premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre.[28] In an interview with Bloomberg News, he revealed that the play was inspired by the displacement of a poor Black community that was situated near the grounds of the Texas State Fair in Dallas.[29] The same year he appeared in the sci-fi film They Remain.[30] In 2019, he starred in two critically acclaimed films, playing Josh in the film Midsommar and James Ross in Dark Waters.[31][32] It was announced in April 2020 that he would narrate the Marvel audio book series, Black Panther: Sins of the King,[33] and in November 2020, that he would star in season 2 of the HBO Max anthology series, Love Life.[34][35]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 All Good Things Moynihan's Assistant
2012 That's What She Said Harry
2015 True Story Zak Rausch
2016 Paterson Everett
2018 They Remain Keith
2019 Lost Holiday Mark
Midsommar Josh
Dark Waters James Ross
2020 David David Short film
The Man in the Woods Buster Heath
2021 We Broke Up Doug

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Chayne Danforth Episode: "Self-made"
2009 Great Performances Melville Episode: "Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story"
Mercy David Green Episode: "I Believe You Conrad"
2009–2011 The Electric Company Danny Rebus 52 episodes
2010 Law & Order Officer Derek Waldron Episode: "Boy on Fire"
2011 30 Rock Rioter Episode: "Plan B"
2013 Unforgettable Andry Fotre aka Arnold Episode: "Incognito"
2014 High Maintenance Andrew Episode: "Geiger"
2015 Person of Interest Strobel Episode: "Control-Alt-Delete"
The Blacklist Security Episode: "Tom Connolly (No. 11)"
2016–2020 The Good Place Chidi Anagonye Main cast — 53 episodes
2016 Deadbeat Adam Episode: "Death List Three"
2017 The Breaks Stephen Jenkins 3 episodes
2019 Jack Ryan Xander 2 episodes
2020 American Dad! General Store Cashier, Nathaniel 2 episodes, voice role
2021 The Underground Railroad Royal

Stage[edit]

Harper has also appeared in stage productions of Ruined and An Octoroon.[36][37]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result Ref
2018 Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series The Good Place Nominated [38]
2019 Nominated [39]
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated [40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Saclao, Christian (September 26, 2016). "'The Good Place' Actor William Jackson Harper on Playing Kristen Bell's Onscreen Soulmate in the NBC Series". International Business Times. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  2. ^ Charles, Marissa (September 19, 2016). "William Jackson Harper on Starring in NBC's 'The Good Place'". Ebony. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Pape, Allie. "William Jackson Harper on the Other Good Place Character He'd Like to Play". Vulture. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  4. ^ "William Jackson Harper". Playbill. Archived from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "Alumni". Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Hoban, Phoebe (March 18, 2006). "Teenage Girl With Issues and Salinger (Published 2006)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "Full Bloom at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre". New York Theater Guide. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben (February 10, 2009). "War's Terrors, Through a Brothel Window (Published 2009)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "Pulitzer Winner Ruined Extends Through May 17 at MTC". Broadway.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Meslow, Scott (January 4, 2018). "The Good Place's William Jackson Harper Had No Idea What He Was Auditioning For". GQ. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018.
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam (October 25, 2010). "Public Theater's Mobile Unit Will Bring Shakespeare to New Audiences". Playbill. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  12. ^ Isherwood, Charles (December 14, 2011). "I Wouldn't Touch That Pie, if I Were You (Published 2011)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam (February 24, 2012). "Stew and Heidi Rodewald's The Total Bent Debuts at the Public Feb. 24". Playbill. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "The Total Bent". www.iobdb.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Isherwood, Charles (May 26, 2016). "Review: In 'The Total Bent,' a Father-Son Rift and a Sensational Score (Published 2016)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  16. ^ "Inside Playbill Gallery". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  17. ^ McElroy, Steven (March 11, 2015). "Melissa James Gibson's 'Placebo' at Playwrights Horizons (Published 2015)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "'Placebo': Theater Review | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (March 17, 2015). "Off Broadway Review: 'Placebo' with Carrie Coon". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 12, 2016). "'Good Place' NBC Comedy Series Casts William Jackson Harper". Deadline. Archived from the original on May 27, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  21. ^ Snierson, Dan (July 12, 2017). "'The Good Place' Star William Jackson Harper Promises 'Acupuncture and Pigs' in Season 2". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  22. ^ Magee, Ny (September 25, 2016). "'The Good Place' Saved William Jackson Harper From Quitting Hollywood". EURweb. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018.
  23. ^ Radish, Christina (October 5, 2017). "'The Good Place': William Jackson Harper on That Big Twist and Season 2 Challenges". Collider. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018.
  24. ^ Perkins, Dennis (January 19, 2017). "The Good Place ends an outstanding first season with its most masterful twist yet". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  25. ^ Cleary, Skye (June 21, 2017). "Philosophy on TV: "The Good Place"". American Philosophical Association. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "After The Blast". Lincoln Center Theater. Archived from the original on February 20, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  27. ^ Brantley, Ben (October 23, 2017). "Review: Romancing the Bot in Zoe Kazan's 'After the Blast'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on February 20, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Rickwald, Bethany (October 18, 2018). "William Jackson Harper on Taking the Sepia Tones out of Civil Rights in 'Travisville'". TheaterMania. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  29. ^ "How a Dallas Parking Lot Inspired a Play by William Jackson Harper". Bloomberg.com. December 20, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  30. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 1, 2018). "Review: In 'They Remain,' Scientists Investigate the Site of a Cult Massacre (Published 2018)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  31. ^ "'Midsommar' Film Review – Variety". June 19, 2019. Archived from the original on June 19, 2019.
  32. ^ Adams, Allen. "'Dark Waters' a low-key legal drama". www.themaineedge.com. Archived from the original on December 23, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  33. ^ "William Jackson Harper to Narrate 'Marvel's Black Panther: Sins of the King' (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  34. ^ Otterson, Joe (November 5, 2020). "William Jackson Harper to Star in 'Love Life' Season 2 at HBO Max". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "Greenlit: William Jackson Harper Will Lead the Cast of 'Love Life' Season 2 + More". www.backstage.com. November 9, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  36. ^ "William Jackson Harper". Ensemble Studio Theatre. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018.
  37. ^ "William Jackson Harper theatre profile". AboutTheArtists.com. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  38. ^ de Moraes, Lisa; Blyth, Antonia; Hipes, Patrick (January 13, 2019). "Critics' Choice Awards: 'Roma' Wins Best Picture To Lead Night; 'The Americans' & 'Mrs. Maisel' Top TV – The Complete Winners List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  39. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (January 13, 2019). "'Roma,' 'The Americans' and 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Win Top Critics' Choice Honors". Variety. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  40. ^ "2020 Emmy Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. July 29, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.

External links[edit]