Actor and former high school English teacher Jay Hunter maybe known for his time in the Arena Football League with the Pensacola Barracudas, but his variety of tough guy roles in films like Max Payne, and Four Brothers, also in television programs such as Kojak, Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong, NCIS: Los Angeles, Percentage, and The Bridge makes him a well known onscreen badass.
It has been a long hard journey for Jay Hunter to get to where he is today. He began playing Pop Warner Football at the age of eleven. According to Jay, he fell in love with the game at the age of nine, but because of the rough neighborhood he lived in, his parents would not allow him to participate. In fact, Jay says the only reason his parents allowed him to play at the age of eleven, was because “They did not know I had to buy my equipment. It was a lot cheaper to purchase football equipment back then compared to now. I was able to pay for my gear because I worked a paper route and that allowed me to finance my dream.”
He would remember his father cheering him on from the sidelines and bragging to his friends and colleagues about how good Jay was an athlete. Jay would continue to improve his techniques as a football player and would join his high school team. During his time in high school, his team was not very good, and Hunter wanted to transfer, but his parents instilled in him that it was not just about athletics and if he took care of his education first everything else would fall into place. He would heed his parents’ advice and make sure his education was taken care of, and he was offered a couple of scholarships and never looked back.
Jay would go on to be a standout in college racking up several achievements, including making All-Conference three years in a row. At the start of his senior year, he would sustain an injury, tearing his ACL, MCL, and PCL during the preseason. Ultimately ending his season, university doctors would later inform him that his career would likely be over. At this time, he was being scouted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. They offered to help pay for his reconstruction surgery, but due to the timeline, he was not eligible to make the team. Jay would begin to shop his highlight film around to possibly land employment with another organization. He would receive a call from the Pensacola Barracudas and got the opportunity to showcase his talent in the Arena football League.
In 2003, he would use his time in the Arena Football League to segue into his next career path as an actor in the ESPN television series Playmakers. He followed that performance with features in several projects such as Kojak, Max Payne, The Incredible Hulk, NCIS: Los Angeles and The Goldbergs. Now Jay is preparing for a very busy 2018 with a schedule that includes, Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong and Acrimony. We here at RESPECT had the opportunity to ask the actor about both projects and what it was like working with Tyler Perry and Academy Award Nominee Taraji P. Henson. Here is what he had to say, “Tyler Perry gave me an excellent opportunity to play a role as the good guy. Throughout my career, I have played the villain, or as I like to call them, “misguided characters.” During the eighth episode of the third season of If Loving You Is Wrong, I play a lawyer. Tyler Perry gave me the opportunity to be that guy that comes in to try to save the day. “Taraji is a fantastic actress to work with, and you can learn from her in regards to professionalism and how she studies her craft. It was a great experience working with her on this project. Tyler had to fly me out the same day that we were shooting and I had to go through the wardrobe. Taraji is already working because she had to get back to film Empire. When it was my turn to play my role we did not have much time to get to know each other before shooting our scene together. The first scene that we shot she took the lead and from there it all came together and just flowed.” Jay will also be making a regular appearance on this season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as The Kree Watch Commander. Jay said the long-standing cast welcomed him with open arms and very quickly made him feel like family.
The television series will be making its season five debut on December 1st and be sure to check out Acrimony slated to be in theaters in March 2018.
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