- Grew up in the Scarborough section of Toronto.
- Sent in an audition tape for Selma, and a mere 20 minutes later he was contacted and asked to chat via Skype with director Ava DuVernay and producer Oprah Winfrey.
- Received a surprise visit from the real John Lewis, whom James portrayed in Selma, when Lewis showed up on the set one day.
- Replaced John Boyega as Jesse Owens in Race after Boyega had to drop out in order to film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Spent his downtime during Selma training with a college track and field coach to prepare for his role as Jesse Owens.
- Was part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Rising Stars program in 2015.
- Named one of Toronto Life magazine's Most Influential Up-and-Comers of 2015.