I caught up with Jay Ellis at the multichoice head office in Randburg on his recent visit to Johannesburg, South Africa and the first thing that stood out about his character for me was how he exuded humility, even as he is now one of the most sought after actors - and one of the most handsome - in the industry after his debut on HBO’s Insecure that skyrocketed his career.
As a fan - and binge watcher - of Insecure I had to start asking Jay who plays Lawrence in the series, whether him and Issa would be getting back together, only to find that he had no knowledge of that as the script for season three were only just being written now (which might take “three to four months to write) and had not yet been revealed to the cast as yet, however he went on to talk about how he wished that the couple would still have each other in their lives as that is what everyone would want for themselves in real life.
Although Jay might not know how the story unfolds at this point, the actor still predicted that he saw the two still in each others lives as they were soulmates. The series Insecure that has a way of relating to people's real lives had Jay relating the story to his own first love story.
“We all kinda have that first love, somebody that we all kind of think about and go ‘man I wish I still talked to that person’ or just want to know how that person is doing or what's happening in their life...” he said.
Speaking on his personal life, about his first love, Jay says he still keeps in contact with her but that it's more "distant check-ups"
“We are friends on IInstagram...we have very loosely remained in contact, because we have a group of friends who all live in the same city who are constantly working together or seeing each other or out together or their kids go to school together now...always kind of in the same world but at a distance.” Jay said.
Growing up Jay says that he has always had the bug for acting, however-like most actors - he went through a lot to get there. Jay had tried to step into the acting industry through modeling but later found that the industries were a little far from each other.
“I thought that modeling would lead me into acting and it couldn’t be further from the truth, the two are not related at all whatsoever, but I thought like Oh maybe it will help me get there...I got a job, worked at a ton of different jobs, I had more jobs than anyone could ever imagine and most of them I hated, most of them were just to pay the bills, most of them I was miserable going to every day,” he added.
Giving himself a limit of two years to break into the acting business, Jay Ellis told us one of the most inspirational stories of his life, Jay left his permanent job and opted for a part-time job which allowed him to still pay his bills and start climbing up the ladder as an actor.
“...there was a point where I gave myself a time limit of two years and I quit my job and I literally just started working part-time jobs just to pay my bills, cut everything out, I wasn’t going out to the clubs…took multiple classes three or four nights a week, and then I would watch every single TV show I could and every single TV show that I could, I just consumed as much TV and film as I could.” he said
Jay Ellis who is also a celebrity ambassador for ABFF this year uses his platform to bring more awareness to HIV has waited long for his big break and once he met his agent while going to different acting classes it led to him being now one of the most sought-after actors today.
“...and then that turned into me meeting an agent and booking my first movie and then that turned into me booking a pilot, that tv show that didn’t go to series, that didn’t get picked up and that turned into The Game and then that turned into other projects and then Insecure” he said
The actor has been making the rounds in Cape Town, South Africa shooting an upcoming movie which he says is a dream come true.
“I’m filming a movie right now for Sony called the Maze, that has been very amazing, it’s not like anything that I’ve ever done before, it’s been very challenging, it’s very physical, there's a lot of stunts, there's a lot of fighting, all kinds of stuff that I have always wanted to do, I’m living my dream.”
Here's a scoop on what you can expect from Jay Ellis:
Jay Ellis is now working on a lot of films starring alongside some of our favourite actors and actresses.
“I have a couple of Indies that will hopefully get into festivals this year, one I did with Marrie Hardwick from Power, another one with Megan good called ‘A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love On Election Night’ and one I did with Emma Roberts."
You might also like: Getting to know Insecure's Yvonne Orgi
Main Image Credit: Instagram/@jayrellis