Born in Fort Sumter, South Carolina, Mr. Ellis spent the majority of his childhood traveling with his military family. His father completed over 15 years of service in the Air Force while his mother was an accomplished finance executive and former board member of the Consumer Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Board. Mr. Ellis graduated summa cum laude at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, where he also played basketball and held the position of student body president. He interned briefly with the Portland Trailblazers and also joined AmeriCorps to provide care and resources to disadvantaged students of Portland.
This winter Jay can be seen starring in the highly anticipated Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise. He currently stars as ‘Lawrence’ on HBO’s critically-acclaimed comedy series Insecure, which will come back for a fourth season in 2020. He can also be seen in the FX/HULU limited series Mrs. America starring Cate Blanchett. Jay won the NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2018 and Insecure has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding Comedy Series” in 2017 and 2018.
As a producer Ellis recently completed production on the feature film BLACK BOX for Amazon with Blumhouse Prods under his production company banner Black Bar Mitzvah. BBM is currently in development on the feature films KNOCKING DAY with John Davis at Sony, BANG & BURN with Escape Artist at Netflix and KILL SOMEONE with Picture Start at Warner Brothers. In television, BBM has the half hour comedy A WHOLE NEW IRVING at HBO, SPIRALING with MRC, THE BOY WHO WAS RAISED AS A DOG with Sony Television and HOUSE OF BROKEN ANGELS at Hulu and BLACK ENOUGH STORIES at MGM. Their animated short series DAYTIME NOIR which premiered at Sundance this year was bought by FX and the first season is currently airing on FX/HULU and was just ordered for a season 2.
In 2016, Ellis served as the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Spokesman. The HIV/AIDS Awareness Days are a project of the Community Capacity Building Coalition (CCBC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose mission is to provide capacity-building assistance to community-based organizations and stakeholders involved in HIV/AIDS prevention. In December of 2016, Ellis was requested by the Obama administration to speak and moderate a panel at the White House for the final “My Brother’s Keeper” summit, an initiative created by President Barack Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. He also serves on the board of Inside Out Writers a LA non-profit that teaches creative writing classes in juvenile halls throughout Los Angeles County.