Watching Jay Ellis on BET’s hit series ‘The Game’ you can’t help but wonder what he’s really like. If he’s that cool, smart, talented guy that you can just kick it with. I mean, there are some real-life resemblances that Ellis has to his character Bryce “The Blueprint” Westbrook.
Jay Ellis for Delux Magazine
Ellis’ father was in the military and both of his parents fathers were in the military as well. “We’re very, very much a military family” Ellis said. Because of that, Ellis attended 12 schools in 13 years. Adjusting to new environments is almost second nature. Ironically it was his talent on the basketball court that nabbed him a scholarship to Concordia University where he was elected student body president and interned with the Portland Trailblazers. It’s also when he started his modeling/acting career.
Ellis has done feature ad campaigns with Air Jordan Brand, Abercrombie & Fitch, Diesel and The Gap. His first television job was on The Bold and the Beautiful followed by various guest appearances on Hart of Dixie, NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy and the movie 43. But it wasn’t until BET picked him up for The Game that he scored his first reoccurring series role, a role that he’d almost forgotten about.
“After your last audition, you test for the studio they basically have 7 days to tell you if you got the job” Ellis explains. “It was the 7thday and believe it or not I’d actually forgotten about it.”
At the time, Ellis was also working on opening a yoga studio. “I actually drove from Los Angeles to Lafayette, Louisiana, straight shot, 29 hours the day right after my last audition for the show. I had completely forgotten about it because I was working almost 15-hour days trying to get this studio set up.”
“On the 7th day at about 7 at night in Lafayette, I get a phone call from my manager and as soon as I pick up he tells me to hold on one second because he has someone on the other line. He clicks over and comes back on the line and it’s him, my agent and my attorney and they all just scream, “You got it! You got it! You got it!”
“I just got my first big break” Ellis continues. “My first big job just came right now while I’m standing on this ladder 6 or 7 feet up in the air in Lafayette, Louisiana at 7 o’clock at night. My dreams are starting to come true. And it was just an absolutely amazing feeling.” Who did he call first? His mother of course followed by his acting coach.
It’s Ellis’ humble upbringing and values that his parents instilled in him that inspires Ellis to drive 29 hours to accomplish a task. “When I was a kid we didn’t have a lot growing up. I spent most of my childhood in one bedroom apartments with my parents. One of the things that my mother always said was, “We may not have a lot but we have more than others. There’s always someone out there who you can help.” Ellis lives by his mother’s “If I can, I will” mantra by dedicating his time to several charitable organizations including ‘Miracles for Kids’ where volunteers assist in an outing for patients and mentoring high school students with ‘Mind Matters.’
His next philanthropic role will involve helping military families.
An effort that’s sure to make his parents proud and a role where on occasion he may have to go back to his roots. While he goes by the moniker Jay Ellis, he was born Wendell Ellis Junior. And yes, there’s a story. “When I was a kid I had this really high voice and I was shorter than my parents, obviously. Everyone called me ‘Little One’ and I hated it… I hated it, I hated it, I hated it! It was an ego thing. I could not stand it.” Ellis said.
“One summer we were at a family reunion and I just flipped out” Ellis recalls. “I’m not little anymore!” he screamed out. “I’m taller than him, I’m taller than him, and I’m taller than her, stop calling me that!” “ I flipped out. Literally everyone was like, ‘he better sit his ass down.’ After that everyone in my family just started calling me Wendell Junior then after that it went to Wendell Jay then it just went to Jay.”
“To this day the only person that calls me Wendell is my dad and my mom in a very serious conversation” Ellis adds.
But these days, the conversations are light and the work is steady. We’ll see Ellis on the big screen later this year in the movie ‘November Rules’ where in a change of pace Ellis gets to play the ‘bad guy.’ But only in the movies ladies. Ellis is single and as he told The Trending Report when asked what he’s looking for in a relationship, “I need love” the 33-year-old, 6’2” actor crooned in his best LL Cool J rendition.