Wendell Ramone Ellis Jr.
December 27, 1981
Sumter, South Carolina, U.S.
|Alma mater||Concordia University (Oregon)|
|Partner(s)||Nina Seničar (2015–present)|
Wendell Ramone "Jay" Ellis Jr. (born December 27, 1981) is an American actor. Born in Sumter, South Carolina, he started with modeling, before moving to Los Angeles and starting his acting career. In 2013, he received his first major role on BET's series The Game. In 2015, he joined the cast of HBO's series Insecure, which premiered in 2016. He also had a lead role in the horror film Escape Room (2019) and is in Top Gun: Maverick.
Early life and education
Wendell Ramone Ellis Jr. was born on December 27, 1981, in Sumter, South Carolina. His father worked for the Air Force, while his mother, Paula Bryant-Ellis, worked as a finance executive. He is the only child of the family. He went to 12 schools in 13 years, before attending Concordia University in Oregon, where he played basketball.
Ellis worked as a public relations intern for the Portland Trail Blazers during their infamous "Jail Blazers" era. After completing his internship, Ellis switched his focus to modeling and started working with Portland-based sportswear companies such as Nike, Adidas and Columbia Sportswear.
In 2004, Ellis moved to Los Angeles to focus on his acting career. He launched his career as a professional actor in 2005, when he appeared briefly in single episodes of the television series Invasion and Related. In 2011-2012, he made appearances on the series Grey's Anatomy, NCIS and How I Met Your Mother.
His first major acting role was in 2013, starring in BET's series The Game. In August 2015, it was announced that Ellis has joined the cast of HBO's comedy series Insecure, which premiered in October 2016. He plays the role of Lawrence Walker, who has a long-term relationship with main character Issa Dee played by Issa Rae. For his work on the show, Ellis received the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series award at the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
The Untold Story: Policing
In 2020, Ellis started hosting The Untold Story: Policing, a four-part podcast series co-produced by Campaign Zero and Lemonada Media. Through interviews with academics, data scientists, and community organizers, the podcast demystifies police union contracts and investigates how they contribute to violent police misconduct across the United States. Ellis serves as the series’ host, as well as an executive producer alongside DeRay Mckesson, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, and Jessica Cordova Kramer.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2010||Triple Standard||Lewis||Short film|
|2011||Hatched: A Tale of Great Egg-spectations||Jay||Short film|
|2011||Let's Do This!||Ugandan Thug #1 / Ceiling Mop Ugandan||TV movie|
|2012||Election Eve||Jeff||Short film|
|2013||Movie 43||Lucious||segment "Victory's Glory"|
|2013||Dear Secret Santa||Brad||TV movie|
|2014||Mass Shooting News Team||Unknown||Short film|
|2014||The Black Bachelor||Unknown||Short film|
|2015||My Favorite Five||Jonathan Colburn|
|2015||November Rule||James Avedon|
|2015||Twelve Steps||Ray||Short film|
|2016||Like Cotton Twines||Micha Brown|
|2018||In a Relationship||Dexter|
|2019||Escape Room||Jason Walker|||
|2020||Thirsty||The young man||Short film|
|2021||Escape Room: Tournament of Champions||Flashback - Jason Walker|
|2022||Top Gun: Maverick||Lieutenant Reuben "Payback" Fitch|
|2022||Somebody I Used to Know||TBA||Filming|
|2005||Invasion||Soldier (uncredited)||Episode: "Watershed"|
|2005||Related||College student||Episode: "Hang in There, Baby"|
|2010||The Bold and the Beautiful||Orderly||Episode: "Episode #1.5922"|
|2011||Grey's Anatomy||DJ||Episode: "White Wedding"|
|2011||NCIS||Marine PFC Thomas 'Tommy' Hill||Episode: "Restless"|
|2012||How I Met Your Mother||Sound Guy||Episode: "Tailgate"|
|2012||Hart of Dixie||Resident||Episode: "Heart to Hart"|
|2012||iCarly||Friend #1||Episode: "iFind Spencer Friends"|
|2012||Crash & Bernstein||Derek||Episode: "Coach Crash"|
|2013–15||The Game||Bryce "Blueprint" Westbrook||Main, 45 episodes|
|2013||NCIS: Los Angeles||Naval Flight Officer Randall Baker||Episode: "Purity"|
|2014||Masters of Sex||Dr. Cyril Franklin||Episode: "Giants"|
|2016||Grace and Frankie||Dan||Episode: "The Anchor"|
|2016–21||Insecure||Martin “Lawrence” Walker||Main (season 1-2, 4-5); guest (season 3) |
|2020||Mrs. America (TV series)||Franklin Thomas||Recurring role|
|2020||Black Box||Feature film|
Awards and nominations
|2014||Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Screen Combo||Movie 43||Nominated|
|2017||Black Reel Awards for Television||Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy Series||Insecure||Nominated|
|2018||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series||Won|
- "Jay Ellis on Working with Tom Cruise in New Top Gun Movie". youtube. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
- "Top Gun Day Celebrates 35th Anniversary With a Return to Theaters". CBR. 2021-05-06. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
- "Jay Ellis Talks His Crush On Tatyana Ali, Stereotypical Black Roles & His Dating Rules". MadameNoire. May 8, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "Jay Ellis". amfAR. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
- "New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Paula Bryant-Ellis on Faith in Storytelling & the Importance of Mentorship and Representation". 6 July 2020.
- "Insecure's Jay Ellis Is a Dream Guy in Real Life". LA Weekly. July 24, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
- "After 'The Game' With Jay Ellis". The Trending Report. April 29, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
- "Chop-Up: Jay Ellis, star of The Game, talks his hooping skills, making an NFL practice squad and more". USA Today High School Sports. February 18, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "Jay Ellis from HBO's "Insecure" Tells Jimmy Kimmel About PR Work for Trail Blazers: "It Was Crazy"". Blazersedge.com. August 19, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- "HBO 'Insecure' Star Jay Ellis Opens Up About Life After the Backshot Heard Around the World". Complex. July 17, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "The Game's Jay Ellis Reveals His Pop Culture Obsessions, First TV Crushes, Hidden Talent and More". E!. March 18, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- "Insecure Star Jay Ellis: 'I Want to Change the Narrative Around Young Black Men'". Out. June 20, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- "Issa Rae's HBO pilot 'Insecure' adds Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji to cast". Rolling Out. August 27, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
- "2018 NAACP Image Award Winners: Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
- "[Check This Out] The Untold Story: Policing". www.radio.com. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
- Dansby, Andrew (2020-08-14). "Stephanie Wittels Wachs' growing podcast company provides comfort". HoustonChronicle.com. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
- "Jay Ellis On His Personal Mission To Fight HIV/AIDS In The Black Community". HuffPost. February 6, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "Insecure Star Jay Ellis and Actress Nina Senicar Welcome First Child, Daughter Nora Grace". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
- Lowe, Justin (2015-10-09). "'Breaking Through': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
- "Deborah Ann Woll & Jay Ellis Interview: Escape Room". ScreenRant. 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
- Verhoeven, Beatrice (February 27, 2020). "Phylicia Rashad, Mamoudou Athie to Star in 'Black Box' for Amazon, Blumhouse TV (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
- "Black*ish Paces the Black Reel Awards for Television Field". Black Reel Awards. June 15, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.