Interview: Jay Ellis

From the interview archive.

Jay Ellis is perhaps best known for his role as Blue in The Game, but these days he’s popping up everywhere and getting a lot of attention for his portrayal of Lawrence in Insecure. Vulkan caught up with Jay to talk about the impact Insecure has on it’s viewers, his thoughts on how to handle day-to-day insecurities and his upcoming appearance in the film A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night.

The Season 2 finale of “Insecure” just aired. I see many are already eagerly anticipating Season 3. What has been the most surprising response you’ve received from fans while working on this series? 

I get a lot of women really oussed at me. I had a woman yell “F**k you! F**k you Lawrence!!” from across the street as she came out of a screening for the first episode of this season. It was pretty amazing. She got right up in my face too. Real comfortable. But overall the response has been unreal. The way people connect to these characters and their stories is unreal. I also love that a hive has been created out of all of this. The memes, tweets, think pieces, articles, all of it it just makes me smile everytime I see it. 

In the finale we see Lawrence admit that he’s uncomfortable with Aparna working with her ex. This is something many relationships struggle with. Do you think it’s healthy to view your partner this way and what might be the best way to deal with these kinds of feelings?

I definitely think it’s tough. It’s not easy on either side but if it’s someone you care about and want to have a future with, I think the only thing you can do is talk through it. Communicate in the most respectful way possible and truly listen to your partner. 

When you find yourself overwhelmed with life in general, at a crossroads if you will much like Issa and Molly, what helps guide you and propel you forward?

Music, family, friends. I often think about why I do what I do. I think about the fans and people who reach out and say they see themselves, friends, family members, etc. in Lawrence. I try to take time to just be quiet and refocus on what’s most important in my life. 

What advice might you give some of your younger fans who are struggling with insecurities today?

Don’t be afraid of them. Lean into them a bit a learn more about yourself. Being uncomfortable makes us all grow. It’s ok to be insecure about things. It doesn’t mean they have to cripple you or stop you from growing and living your best life. Those same insecurities are what make you you and unique ad special. 

You’ve been involved in a few different roles now where the subject matter focuses on human interactions and behaviour. What has been the most eye opening thing you’ve learned about yourself while portraying another character?

That’s a great question. I’m not sure if there have been just one thing but I do think I’ve realized that not everything has to be a set back. There are lessons in so many things we do in life and in so many areas where you bump your head or fall down. As cliché as it is, a lot of life is really about getting back up and trying again but learning from the previous fall. 

Given that social media is now so prevalent and our society and a lot of young people fall victim to abuse through it, at what age do you feel it’s appropriate for people to start utilizing social media in any capacity?

Amazing question!! And I honestly have no clue!! Can I circle back when I have kids? Haha. Seriously though. Maybe mid high school? I don’t know. I know it’s wild out here though and there is something to me that is special and important about knowing a little more about yourself and life before you get into the social media world. 

You’ll be appearing in Qasim Basir’s new film “A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night.” Can you tell us a bit about your role and how he fits into the story?

I play the best friend of Cass. He’s kind of your typical LA club dude. A bit vapid. Just wants to party. He drowns out the seriousness and complexities of life with bottles and models. And this night is no different. 

What has been your biggest challenge in this role?

I had a great time on this project. I’m not 100% sure I’m allowed to say what the biggest challenge of the movie was but once it comes out you guys will see. But there was definitely no leaning on the stop and go of multiple takes. 

A lot of people might not consider election night particularly romantic, if you will. What brings Cass and Free together? 

Haha. You have to watch to see! But I will say Omari and Meghan had amazing chemistry. It was really cool to watch. Both their characters, going through what their going through that night, find something in each other that intrigues and draws them into another.  

Trump gets a little irritable when people challenge things he says and does. Why do you feel it’s important for people both in America and abroad to continue to challenge him, or any president?

We should always be challenging our leaders to make sure that the voices, needs and issues surrounding a nation’s citizens and citizens of the world are being heard and met by elected officials. 

You’re also signed on to appear in Sam Boyd’s “In A Relationship.” How will this film differ from the original indie short that starred Dakota Johnson? 

Yeah, super excited about this. Sam did an amazing job of really expanding and examining some of the topics and relationship issues the short with Dakota started digging into. The cast this time around is different with Emma Roberts, Paddy (Patrick) Gibson, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway and myself. I really only pop in the  movie for a few scenes but getting to go work with the cast and Sam was great. Sam’s mad talented. He really shows an honest and vulnerable sides to the characters in the script. We also shot all of LA in some great spots that aren’t the typical tourist traps. 

What is your life’s motto?

Haha. Not sure if I have one but “Go for it. No matter how it ends, it was an experience” is something that always pops into mind. Also, “Everyday is a day to try again.”…”Work hard. Be kind.”

Can you recommend us a comedy film you’re really into lately?

I’m on location in Cape Town, South Africa working on a film, so I haven’t gotten a chance to see much lately. But I did love Girls Trip, The Big Sick and Despicable Me 3.

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