Passion-Driven: William Stanford Davis, “a.k.a. Mr. Johnson,” of the hit ABC series “Abbott Elementary”

Passion-Driven: William Stanford Davis, “a.k.a. Mr. Johnson,”  of the hit ABC series “Abbott Elementary”

William Stanford Davis is an award-winning actor and veteran of both stage and screen with close to 100 credits. The St. Louis, Missouri native is currently receiving rave reviews for his performance as the cantankerous yet lovable janitor Mr. Johnson on the hit ABC series "Abbott Elementary," and also recurs as Coach Max on the sports series "Swagger," based on Kevin Durant's youth basketball playing experience with the AAU circuit for AppleTV+.

Davis has appeared in some of the most popular and award-winning TV shows, from his role on Showtime's long running, Golden Globe-winning series "Ray Donovan," as the popular Potato Pie from "Donovan's Gym," and on OWN's flagship successful series, "If Loving You Is Wrong," from Tyler Perry.

Davis has also been cast in critical recurring roles on TNT's "Snowpiercer," "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip," from Aaron Sorkin, and "Lincoln Heights," and has guest starred on such long running programs such as "Perry Mason," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Chicago Med," "Criminal Minds," "The Big Bang Theory," "Ally Mc Beal," "Touched By An Angel," and many more. In a career filled with numerous outstanding highlights, Davis also earned an Emmy Award in 2002 as part of the cast of Rasheen Crawley's "The Movement."

In Film and On Stage

In film, Davis recently starred alongside Nafessa Williams and Sharon Neal in, "A Holiday Chance," which premiered in November 2021 on AppleTV+ and Hulu, as well as "Please Stand By," starring Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette, and "So B It," starring Cloris Leachman and Alfre Woodard.

On stage, Davis was honored with an Ovation Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the 2006 Actors Studio Production of August Wilson's "Fences," and he performed in the musical production "North on South Central," which won five NAACP Theatre Awards in 2004. He also counts "Cages" written by Leonard Manzella and directed by Jon Rivera at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, "The Anteroom," also for the Actors Studio, The Circle West Production of "Legacies" at The Matrix Theatre, written and directed by the late John Bishop, and the world premiere of "Two Ships Passing," at the Pan Andreas Theater in Hollywood.

From Directing to Teaching

In addition to acting, Davis has directed a number of productions including Lawrence Fishburne's play "Riff Raff," a production of "Shame," at the Elephant Asylum Theatre, and "The Old Settler," at the Pico Playhouse.

Davis has spent more than 15 years mentoring the next generation of talent at both his own company, the William Stanford Davis Acting Class masterclass. He is also a lifetime member at the Actors Studio. He has coached several emerging stars, including Alisha Boe, Dylan Sprayberry, Laila Ali, Mc Lyte, and many more.

For more information,  please contact Shannon Barr at Strategic Public Relations at 


The journey of William Stanford Davis to success was never a "straight line." It was a series of decisions grounded in his commitment to learning, growing, and being aware of who and what he wanted to be – happy, giving, joyful, and in-service to others.  And, what an amazing story his life continues to be!  I had a chance to spend some quality time with him talking about his path, some of the decisions he made along the way, and what advice he would give to the next generation of actors.

Here is our entire audio interview, which you can also download from our favorite podcast provider, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

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