William Jackson Harper currently stars as the loveable and neurotic Chidi Anagonye in NBC’s hit sitcom, The Good Place. Prior to landing on the show, Harper has been in a number of movies and television shows, including The Blacklist and 30 Rock.
From where he grew up to his first television show appearance, here are five fast facts you need to know about The Good Place star William Jackson Harper.
In the Beginning
Harper was born on February 8, 1980, in Dallas, Texas, which is where he grew up. He attended a Christian school while growing up and then graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 2003.
Harper was actually born William Fitzergerald Harper but had to change it due to union rules on stage names. He decided to take his mother’s maiden name, Jackson and uses that instead of Fitzgerald.
Harper is part of that very large entertainment family — the one that includes everyone who has ever appeared on the Law and Order franchise. In fact, his first television show guest shot was on Law & Order: Criminal Intent back in 2007. He was also on an episode of the mothership — Law & Order — in 2010.
Harper’s breakthrough role came in 2009 when he was cast in the PBS show, The Electric Company — a show almost every kid has seen at one point or another. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 in the show All the Way.
Nick of Time
Before landing the role of Chidi Anagonye on The Good Place, Harper was very close to quitting acting. He also did not know the premise of the television show before he auditioned and didn’t end up finding out until after he was cast.