By: Dorothy Douglas
Over fine New Orleans cuisine and a debate about the rise and fall of hip hop, Jay Hunter delighted Area Magazine with a chill as cool as the uptown breeze. With a versatile skill set that includes playing Arena football, teaching high school English and acting, Jay’s presence is taking center stage. His role as “Ian” on Tyler Perry’s series If Loving You is Wrong has gathered a strong presence. And with his recent role as Taraji P. Henson’s boyfriend in Perry’s thriller Acrimony, Jay is cruising through life like a boom box on the shoulder of a New York soldier.
With acting, Jay has had the chance to explore his personality. During his childhood years, he would pretend to be his favorite television characters with his friends. “When I was in school, I would mimic different characters. I would reenact my favorite scenes of different movies with my friends in class. We used to get in trouble for it, but I didn’t realize I would actually be getting paid for it!” As his imagination kept him engulfed in acting, he knew he loved it. He was inspired to teach by watching Steve Harvey’s role as Mr. Hightower on The Steve Harvey Show. He took on his love for teaching while continuing his acting pursuits. His ambition enabled him to appear in motion pictures like Max Payne, Animal 2 and PlayMakers.
Before landing his major roles, Jay experienced many waves of rejection. He didn’t handle rejection well, but soon realized that it was a part of the process. “In this industry you are going to get a hundred no’s before you get a maybe. Then after you get the maybe, you get all excited and then you get a no.” He jokingly realized that rejection made him a stronger person. And with that same strength, Jay was able to catch the attention of New Orleans native, Tyler Perry.
With an appointment to audition for Perry, Jay had to delay his flight because he was still in the classroom. He remembered that fate had a way of working things out. He remembered rushing to get to the audition and feeling nervous about the opportunity with Tyler Perry. “I kept thinking like am I going to make this?” He began smiling at how things came together. He made it to Tyler Perry Studios, read for his role and got the part. He now has his audience on the edge of their seats with his depiction of the sexy and sly lawyer Ian. Jay also had to get accustomed to the way Perry shoots. He doesn’t waste any time and moves through scenes rather quickly. From Jay’s experience, one actor can shoot up to fourteen scenes a day. Though the scenes are fast pace, Jay gets to sharpen his improvisation skills and praises Perry for making his cast feel relaxed.
He also had the privilege of acting alongside the beautiful actress Taraji P. Henson. Henson plays Cookie on the hit TV series Empire and is known for her roles in Baby Boy, Think Like A Man and Hidden Figures just to name a few. It’s easy to see how Jay would be a bit nervous around the feisty leading lady. Surprisingly, Taraji was attentive and eager to make the scenes as seamless as possible. Jay admired how concerned Taraji was. “She kept asking me if I was ok and was I comfortable.” She made it easy for Jay to join her in a steamy love scene. The result is a jaw-dropping tale of love gone wrong. Jay is eager to continue to test his skill set. When asked what is his favorite personality to play, Jay’s response was, “You see that’s a trick question because I’ll say one thing, then I’ll get a role and once I dive into that role that becomes my new favorite thing to do. I played that street guy before. Obviously, I play a lawyer now. In Acrimony, I’d like to say I play the nice, gentle, and caring boyfriend. What I haven’t done yet? I haven’t played a superhero! I’m waiting to do that.”
After ten years of diligence, Jay is delighted to see his work come into fruition. He’s amazed when he sees himself on the big screen. His passion for acting has given him the tenacity to keep going. Area magazine veered off topic just a bit and asked Jay about love. Jay stated: “Love. It’s so many things. But I want to say if I have to like pull out words, I think love is passion. I think it’s something that’s desired. Whether it be I have this passion or desire for a woman and I’m really into her or my job or architecture. There’s an essence there that draws your heart to it. You can appreciate things that everyone else may overlook. I think that’s where love at least starts.” Jay has shown us pieces of his love by the smooth way he moves on the big screen. Our hearts were once more greeted by the uptown breeze as we bid our farewells. The night ended with a crowd of laughter and the magic of a brilliant actor steadily on the rise.