Actor Jesse Williams has always been very vocal on issues that create disparities for Black and Brown communities. Often using his platforms to bring awareness, he's never shied away from speaking out for those who look like him. But, what many don't know about the Grey's Anatomy star is that he once worked as a high school teacher in underserved communities.

Seeing firsthand the lack of access to basic things that many of his students faced, was the driving force behind Williams teaming up with Crest and Oral B to help close America’s smile gap. According to studies, Black children are twice as likely to have poor oral health in comparison to their peers, and Hispanic children are 4x more likely. This campaign will provide resources and education to students, teachers and staff to some of the nation's hardest hit communities.

"I remember as a student, as a teacher in public schools, the role that self-esteem, confidence and insecurities can play in your social and academic life if you don't feel confident in your smile or oral care," Jesse Williams said. "You're less likely to be focused, to speak up and raise your hand, to challenge yourself and others. It affects your sense of self and put your self out there, which is the best way to grow. All of these things affect us disproportionately. These are very real, measurable factors that affect so much of our lives."

He shares that something as small as putting a new toothbrush in a child's hand, can show them that they matter, so it was a no-brainer for him to partner with Crest and Oral B for this initiative.

As students everywhere prepare to head back into classrooms, EBONY asked the actor to share some of his favorite educational tips as well as offer a few motivational gems to get us ready for the new year.

EBONY: What were some of the nuggets that you instilled in your students as a Black male teacher?

Jesse Williams: I wanted them to understand that our cultural references whether in language construction, art or literature hold just as much value as anyone else's. The way I cultivated an opinion or perspective as a young person was by being challenged on why I felt a certain way. There's so much real pressure on our young people these days, especially with social media. Instilling confidence in them, showing them how to think out loud and be curious—while creating a safe space for them to do so.

How do you also instill that same confidence in your children?

You learn quickly that your kids are watching and listening to everything you do. So we have to lead by example. I try to do my best with that as a parent, and be age appropriate. A five-year-old is not a 15-year-old in terms of expectations you load them with, and I think that's something a lot of parents can relate to.

Do you have a personal affirmation or mantra for students who are heading back to class right now?

The thing that comes to mind are things around valuing curiosity and being okay with saying, 'I don't know.' There's a lot of pretending to know it all in today's world. My dad used to always say, 'information is accessible.' There's really no excuse to be curious about something and not know anything about it. Lean into your curiosity.

Also, one of the most powerful words in our language is 'no'. Have a sense of what you actually do want to do, and not give into social pressures.

You also have your own app, "Homeschooled." Talk to us about it and what we can find there.

We figured out that using a university campus curriculum model, we can bring that into the trivia space. Most trivia games are often written for straight, white men. But we're far more expansive than that as a community. So this was made to be fun and festive for our kids, with characters and phrasing that looks like and appeals to them. There's so much more in the world for us than just European history. Homeshcooled is a ton of fun, and we're growing it constantly.