Meet Stephan James.

You’ve seen him steal the show in Selma as a young John Lewis and in his upcoming film Race, he becomes Jesse Owens, the track athlete qualifying for the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.

The Toronto native grew up loving sports like basketball and volleyball, but running was new to him. So for this role, he not only had to learn how to run, but how to run like an Olympic athlete.

“I had to learn how to run and how to run fast, but also how to run like Jesse Owens, because he had a very particular style,” James told Variety.

Like another popular person from the 6, he got his start on Degrassi playing a kid named Julian Williams, but it wasn’t until he auditioned for Selma that things really started to take off for him. His audition tape made Oprah cry.

“She had tears in her eyes and it was incredible. She told me that my audition touched her and she would love for me to be a part of the film. It all happened really quickly,” he revealed.

Stephan would go on to nail the role of John Lewis and now he’s the lead in Race, which also stars Jason Sudeikis. I found out a little more about the actor (follow him @TdotSteph), how he picks his roles,  if he cares about fame, and more.

When it comes to race issues in Hollywood, he thinks it’s a very important discussion, but believes we are all capable of great things:

I think it’s certainly an important discussion to have and to raise. For us, what we wanted to show people with this film was that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, you’re fully capable of accomplishing great things. In the film, people will see how Jesse was able to block out all the outside noise and focus on what he loved, and that’s something everyone can take something from.

For more, check out our interview above. Race is in theaters everywhere this Friday.

SOURCE: Variety, City | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Instagram