Grey’s Anatomy Actor Jesse Williams Joins Scholly Team
Last week, the scholarship-matching platform announced that actor and activist Jesse Williams has joined the team as a board member and Chief Brand Ambassador.
“He has an emotional connection to Scholly,” said Christopher Gray, the mobile app’s founder. “Whenever you hear about Jesse it’s about something social. It’s about something that’s humanitarian-related, so he can talk authentically about his real and personal connection to the brand.”
Williams is most known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, but he’s especially come to the forefront this year for his powerful social justice activism. But Williams’ activism began long before he made it to the big screen — the Temple University graduate taught high school in Philadelphia for several years and witnessed education inequity firsthand. Williams says his experience as a teacher is one of the reasons he partnered with Scholly.
“I had countless students forced to watch their own potential fade into memory simply because they weren’t born into the resources necessary to absorb a higher education,” Williams wrote on Facebook to announce the new partnership. “Our students deserve access to college and to the bright future that awaits them.”
As brand ambassador, Williams will help Scholly develop its brand and build more business relationships, Gray said. Scholly will also focus on Williams’s story, a move Gray says he’s ready for.
“We’re getting to the point where my story is becoming a little saturated,” Gray told me with a laugh. (The seed for Scholly was planted when Gray landed a whopping $1.3 million in college scholarship money while at Drexel University.) “I’ve told my story so many times, and I think people are like ‘OK, we get it,’ so it’s great to bring a fresh voice to it.”
And there’s more to the Williams partnership than his personal connection to Scholly — the deal is already proving to be one of the company’s smartest business moves.
Since the announcement, the app is getting “downloads off the charts,” Gray said, adding, “He has a broad audience with Grey’s Anatomy” and the attention of many different groups of people, like young men and women and moms of all different backgrounds with kids in college. “He also has connections to other celebrities that we can leverage as well to really enhance the brand. Having a go-to audience of 3 million people now is sending a strong message.”
The news from Scholly comes on the heels of the release of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100 list, which showcases leaders who are entrepreneurs, teachers, and givers. Both Williams and Gray made the list, spurring a relationship between the two, Gray explains on his Scholly blog.
Next week, the company will take to social media to showcase students who raised money using the app. Stay tuned, Gray says.
Watch Williams and Gray seal the deal:
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