Jay Reeves in Safety

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Subscribers of Disney+ were introduced to the inspiring true story of Ramon “Ray-Ray” McElrathbey in Safety, a new film that premiered exclusively on the digital platform in December 2020. Playing the former Clemson University football player at a time when he struggled to maintain his grade point average, his job, and his position on the team while secretly raising his younger brother on campus is Jay Reeves, who is quickly proving himself as a promising talent in the acting world. So, what is the former All American star’s story?

For those who are not familiar with the CW original high school sports drama, which has become an especially huge hit on Netflix more recently, Safety is likely the first time said audiences would have become acquainted with the 26-year-old New Jersey native. That is, unless they were able to catch him as Peanut in David Ayer’s latest crime drama The Tax Collector or even in his guest spot opposite Zendaya on her Emmy-nominated Disney Channel series, K.C. Undercover. These are, essentially, the most notable acting credits of Jay Reeves thus far, but I believe it is safe to say that the young man has a bright future ahead of him.

I say this, not only based on Jay Reeves’ powerful leading performance in Safety, but also from reading articles and watching junket interviews that shed light on his approach to acting, his diverse aspirations as a creator, and the real-life experiences that have played a major role in his career. I took the six most interesting facts about the rising star that I found while sifting the web and assorted them in the following list as a means to get to know him a bit better, starting with a good reason why you might want to start watching All American if you have not already.

Jay Reeves on All American

Jay Reeves Credits All American With Making Him A Better Actor

In an interview with TV Insider, Jay Reeves comments on how he nabbed the lead in Safety, any similarities to the real Ramon “Ray-Ray” McElrathbey that he sees in himself, and the process he underwent in preparing to play him. Naturally, the conversation shifted to the actor’s role on All American as Shawn Scott - a troubled friend of main character Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) from his hometown of South Central who (spoiler alert!) was murdered in a gang-related shooting in Season 1. When asked how his seven-episode stint on the series influenced his performance in the Disney+ exclusive, he had this to say:

I feel like there are small similarities between lifestyles and environment, but as far as overall similarities within character, I would say they are completely different. I don’t believe Shawn and Ray would even hold a conversation. As for the role, I learned and grew a lot while working with the All American cast and that stays with you. I would have to say the experience taught me to be a better actor.

I would not be surprised, as Jay Reeves’ stardom continues to grow, to see more people interested in checking out his work on the CW series. Ironically, despite its heavy themes of athleticism, you never do get to see the actor in the gridiron on All American. Yet, getting into the game on the set of Safety is what motivator him to get back into the game for real.

Jay Reeves as Ramon "Ray-Ray" McElrathbey in Safety

Filming Safety Made Jay Reeves A Born-Again Football Fan

A question that most actors commonly get asked after they are cast in a sports movie is if they have any history of athleticism in their own life. Indeed, Jay Reeves did play football in high school (in the position of free safety, coincidentally) as he told Chicago reporter Cabryl Breotti over video chat, but his growing fascination with performing arts eventually led him to lose interest in participating or even following the sport. As Reeves revealed to Black Film and TV founder Wilson Morales in a virtual interview along with his co-stars Corinne Foxx (daughter of Jamie) and Hunter Sansone of Stargirl fame, it was starring in Safety that sparked his interest in the game again - especially the Clemson Tigers, if you can imagine.

Jay Reeves as Ray McElrathbey in Safety

Jay Reeves Became Gym Buddies With The Real Ray McElrathbey While Making Safety

Of course, you would not have much of a choice but to root for the Tigers after not only playing a Clemson University alum in a movie, but also becoming good friends with the man himself off-screen. While serving as a consultant on the set of Safety, the real Ray McElrathbey took the time to help Jay Reeves and other cast members with their physical training and even got on the field with them on the football field in a hidden cameo as a player, which Reeves revealed to JoBlo’s Chris Bumbray. In fact, as McElrathbey told Manny the Movie Guy in an interview with him and the actor who plays him, he and Reeves are still in communication and even hit the gym together, to this day.

Jay Reeves in Dr. Pepper's Fansville Ad Campaign

Jay Reeves Has Also Produced A Few Projects On The Side

When he is not acting or lifting weights with famous college football players, Jay Reeves still makes an effort to produce entertainment from behind the camera in collaboration with people who share his drive for creativity. In fact, he is preparing to helm (along with co-director Hope Ayiyi) a short horror film called Debra’s Attic, which is currently in pre-production and will also be Reeves’ first directorial effort. In 2020, Reeves wrote and appeared in a three-minute video called South Central, which shows off another one of the artist’s lesser-known talents.

Jay Reeves the video for his song "South Central"

Jay Reeves Is A Hip-Hop Artist Outside Of Acting

On his way to becoming a bonafide triple-threat in the entertainment industry is Jay Reeves, who has been making waves as a musician since he put out a video of him rapping his own verses over a Paul Wall beat in 2018. In 2020, he put out a single of his own, the aforementioned “South Central,” and intends to put out more recordings in the near future. Perhaps he could pull a “Will Smith” with his next movie and write the theme song.

Jay Reeves in the Disney+ film Safety

Jay Reeves’ Dream Role Is To Play A Comic Book Villain

On the note of future acting opportunities, Jay Reeves actually got to commenting on that during a recent interview with Collider in promotion of Safety. When asked about certain types of characters he would interested in tackling, his response was nothing short of fascinating:

I would love to play a superhero villain, maybe like Mr. Freeze or somebody like that from Batman. I love adventure movies, so I’d wanna do something [from] National Treasure or Indiana Jones.

Jay Reeves could not have picked a better time to say that, as far as I am concerned, with supervillains becoming the cool role to nab lately. As for appearing in an action adventure blockbuster, both a third installment of the National Treasure franchise and a new Indiana Jones movie are in the works and as a member of the Disney family already, it may only be a matter of time for him.

What do you think? Would Jay Reeves make a good Mr. Freeze or a new sidekick for Harrison Ford, or you more interested in seeing what the rising star will do behind the camera or even in the recording studio? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the Safety star, as well as even more in-depth looks into the lives of your favorite celebrities, here on CinemaBlend.

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