Emmy First-Timers Club: William Jackson Harper Wants to Challenge the Idea of Masculinity on TV

Whose performances inspired you to become an actor?

It’s hard to say. But I’ve always loved watching plays. So I think the first performance I saw that stuck with me was Billy Eugene Jones as Macduff in the play Macbeth at the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. It was the first time I had seen Shakespeare and stayed awake. Billy was great. I realized then that theater can be moving and exciting, rather than stiff. As far as movies and television, I never really thought that was in the cards for me, so I just enjoyed it.

What was the last non-acting job you held?

I was a file clerk for the corporate offices of a fitness corporation. My buddy Paco, who I was doing a play with at the time, hooked me up. We’d sit in a small space and file for hours. 

What TV show other than your own have you never missed an episode of?

I’ve watched a lot of things in their entirety, but the most recent appointment viewing for me was Watchmen. It was easily a top-five show for me.

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