Interview: Jay Ellis Talks How Your 20’s Set You Up To Succeed In Your 30’s
I’m so, proud of my friend Necole Kane, who successfully launched her new website xonecole.com recently! Her very first XO Man, just happened to be long time friend to CNikky.com, Jay Ellis! In support of her fabulous new site, I wanted to share her article on Mr. Ellis. You know we love Jay and Necole (hmmm that’s a nice thought? Couple alert perhaps?) And she got him to reveal his personal thoughts on women, relationships and what triumphs and mistakes he encountered in his twenties that prepared him for his thirties. By the way…the former star of BET’s The Game, just landed a lead role in our friend Issa Rae’s new show on HBO entitled, Insecure!! Congrats Buddy!
What are some of the qualities you look for in a woman that you’re interested in pursuing?
Focus, determination, and independence. I love a chick that’s a boss. There’s something about a woman that’s independent who can still come home and have balance in her relationship. There’s something that’s incredibly sexy about a woman that’s a boss who can come home and be a girlfriend, wife and a mother.
That’s what I learned from my mom. She was the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a twenty billion dollar bank. I’ve seen her in her office taking care of business then when she went home, she was in a very balanced relationship with my father. Though she was this powerful force at work, her strength never affected my parent’s relationship.
What’s the most profound thing that someone has said to you?
It came from Mara Brock-Akil (Creator of The Game), Salim Akil (Director/Executive Producer), and Kenny Smith (Show Runner). When I got the role of Blue, I didn’t understand how I got the job or why I was hired. They told me, “You have something that you don’t realize and the fact that you don’t realize it is why you’re going to be successful.” Even to this day, I still look at them like, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I just enjoying going to work everyday.
But it was something about what they said that gave me a confidence that I don’t think I necessarily had before. Having someone believe in me and see something I wasn’t even sure about is still such an amazing thing. Their words were so important to me because they were having me play a character that had such a huge impact on the future of the show. It felt like the pressure of whether or not The Game did well was on me. But their belief in me made me step up and feel like I could do my job with no judgment. I could simply show up, do the work and have fun.
You’re involved in various philanthropic projects. Why was it important for you to participate in the Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR?
HIV/AIDS has impacted my family. I’ve had an uncle that passed and another person that’s lived with HIV for about fifteen years. African Americans are the highest affected community and we only make up 13% of the population. I participated in the ride last year. This year I’ll be on a motorcycle for a week and ride over one thousand miles. Our infection rate is alarmingly higher then the rest of our counterparts in the country. I want to use my platform to be able to reach out to people that look like me to increase awareness.
How have your twenties shaped and impacted who you are in your early 30s?
Every single mistake, good decision and experience has built my character. From modeling to moving to LA, living in the mountains in Arizona for six months, the first time I got in a motorcycle accident, the three times I got fired from jobs; the first time I got an apartment, the first time I bought a house—all of those things set me up for today. Everything was an important lesson. I don’t know if I could have handled being on a successful show like The Game and having that type of attention in my 20s. I believe your 20s are for setting you up to succeed in your 30s.
Your 30s are when you find your stride and figure out what you want to do and how you can really excel. If you figure all of this out in your 20s, God bless you; that’s amazing. In your 30s, you should hopefully be stepping into your purpose and what you’re supposed to be doing. You might be going through so much bullshit right now in your 20s, but when you get to where you’re supposed to be you’ll feel such a sense of peace.