Jay Ellis

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Jay Ellis
Jay Ellis 2022 Cropped.jpg
Ellis in 2022
Wendell Ramone Ellis Jr.

(1981-12-27) December 27, 1981 (age 41)
Alma materConcordia University (Oregon)
Years active2005–present
(m. 2022)

Wendell Ramone "Jay" Ellis Jr.[1] (born December 27, 1981) is an American actor. In 2013, Ellis received his first major role on BET's series The Game. He is a main cast member on HBO's series Insecure, which premiered in 2016. He had a lead role in the horror film Escape Room (2019), as the secondary antagonist, and appeared in Top Gun: Maverick.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Wendell Ramone Ellis Jr. was born on December 27, 1981, in Sumter, South Carolina.[3] His father worked for the Air Force, while his mother, Paula Bryant-Ellis, worked as a finance executive.[4][5] He is the only child of the family.[6] He went to 12 schools in 13 years, before attending Concordia University in Oregon, where he played basketball.[7][8]


Ellis worked as a public relations intern for the Portland Trail Blazers during their infamous "Jail Blazers" era.[9] 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.[10]


In 2004, Ellis moved to Los Angeles to focus on his acting career.[10] 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.[11][12]

His first major acting role was in 2013, starring in BET's series The Game.[10] In August 2015, it was announced that Ellis has joined the cast of HBO's comedy series Insecure, which premiered in October 2016.[13] He plays the role of Lawrence Walker, who has a long-term relationship with main character Issa Dee played by Issa Rae.[10] For his work on the show, Ellis received the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series award at the 49th NAACP Image Awards.[14]

He starred as Reuben "Payback" Fitch in Top Gun: Maverick.[2]

The Untold Story: Policing[edit]

In 2020, Ellis started hosting The Untold Story: Policing, a four-part podcast series co-produced by Campaign Zero[15] 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.[16]


In 2017, Ellis partnered with leading HIV/AIDS research organization, amfAR.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Ellis has been in a relationship with Serbian model and actress Nina Seničar since 2015. Their daughter was born in November 2019.[18] On July 9, 2022, they married in Italy.[19]



Year Title Role Notes
2010 Triple Standard Lewis Short film
2011 Hatched: A Tale of Great Egg-spectations Jay Short film
2012 Election Eve Jeff Short film
2013 Movie 43 Lucious Segment: "Victory's Glory"
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 Breaking Through Quinn [20]
2015 Twelve Steps Ray Short film
2016 Like Cotton Twines Micha Brown
2016 Shortwave Robert
2018 In a Relationship Dexter
2019 Escape Room Jason Walker [21]
2020 Thirsty The young man Short film
2021 Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Flashback - Jason Walker
2022 Top Gun: Maverick Lieutenant Reuben "Payback" Fitch
2023 Somebody I Used to Know TBA Completed
TBA Freaky Tales TBA Filming


Year Title Role Notes
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"
2011 Let's Do This! Ugandan Thug #1 / Ceiling Mop Ugandan TV movie
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 Dear Secret Santa Brad TV movie
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)[18]
2020 Mrs. America Franklin Thomas Recurring role
2023 History of the World Part II Jesus Christ Upcoming series


Year Title Notes
2020 Black Box Feature film[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Nominated work Result
2014 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Combo Movie 43 Nominated
2017 Black Reel Awards for Television[23] Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy Series Insecure Nominated
2018 NAACP Image Awards[14] Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Won


  1. ^ "Jay Ellis on Working with Tom Cruise in New Top Gun Movie". youtube. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Top Gun Day Celebrates 35th Anniversary With a Return to Theaters". CBR. 2021-05-06. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  3. ^ "Jay Ellis Talks His Crush On Tatyana Ali, Stereotypical Black Roles & His Dating Rules". MadameNoire. May 8, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  4. ^ "Jay Ellis". amfAR. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Paula Bryant-Ellis on Faith in Storytelling & the Importance of Mentorship and Representation". 6 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Insecure's Jay Ellis Is a Dream Guy in Real Life". LA Weekly. July 24, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "After 'The Game' With Jay Ellis". The Trending Report. April 29, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ a b c d "HBO 'Insecure' Star Jay Ellis Opens Up About Life After the Backshot Heard Around the World". Complex. July 17, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Insecure Star Jay Ellis: 'I Want to Change the Narrative Around Young Black Men'". Out. June 20, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  13. ^ "Issa Rae's HBO pilot 'Insecure' adds Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji to cast". Rolling Out. August 27, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "2018 NAACP Image Award Winners: Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  15. ^ "[Check This Out] The Untold Story: Policing". www.radio.com. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  16. ^ Dansby, Andrew (2020-08-14). "Stephanie Wittels Wachs' growing podcast company provides comfort". HoustonChronicle.com. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  17. ^ "Jay Ellis On His Personal Mission To Fight HIV/AIDS In The Black Community". HuffPost. February 6, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Insecure Star Jay Ellis and Actress Nina Senicar Welcome First Child, Daughter Nora Grace". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  19. ^ Macon, Alexandra (July 18, 2022). "Top Gun: Maverick's Jay Ellis Marries Nina Senicar at a Garden Wedding in Tuscany". Vogue. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  20. ^ Lowe, Justin (2015-10-09). "'Breaking Through': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  21. ^ "Deborah Ann Woll & Jay Ellis Interview: Escape Room". ScreenRant. 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  22. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (February 27, 2020). "Phylicia Rashad, Mamoudou Athie to Star in 'Black Box' for Amazon, Blumhouse TV (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  23. ^ "Black*ish Paces the Black Reel Awards for Television Field". Black Reel Awards. June 15, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.

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