In­se­cure Jay’s Cape Town trip

Jay El­lis, who stars in comedy drama In­se­cure, has been in Cape Town film­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller The Maze

CityPress - - News - RHODÉ MAR­SHALL rhode.mar­shall@city­press.co.za

On TV, Jay El­lis is a man who ap­pears to be a good guy, but might not quite make that cut. That’s thanks to his char­ac­ter Lawrence on hit HBO comedy drama In­se­cure, which has cat­a­pulted his ca­reer into the strato­sphere. But out­side the show, which airs in South Africa on DStv’s Vuzu chan­nel, there are plenty of rea­sons to find him en­dear­ing.

Fans have spot­ted the ac­tor around Cape Town for the last three months, where he has been film­ing Sony’s psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller, The Maze. He’s been learn­ing some isiXhosa and isiZulu in street or on-set lessons and shares the de­tails on his In­sta­gram ac­count.

“I’m learn­ing a lit­tle bit each day as I go along. My tongue is def­i­nitely get­ting a work­out – it’s not as lazy as it was when I first got here. I still mess up quite a bit though,” he says.

About the phe­nom­e­non that is In­se­cure, El­lis says: “With this priv­i­lege I try to stay fo­cused on work and use my plat­form to hope­fully make the world a bet­ter place and help some­one find their dream in some way. I get recog­nised a lot more, and it makes mov­ing around a lit­tle bit hard and keep­ing a low profile a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult than what it was be­fore In­se­cure.

“I’ve been to Croa­tia, In­dia, South Africa, Ser­bia, Greece – there’s not a coun­try among those that I haven’t been recog­nised as Lawrence. We just go to work and have fun, so it doesn’t re­ally hit us how many peo­ple around the world are con­nected to it.”

The 35-year-old star wears mul­ti­ple hats, as an ac­tor and now ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer for mock­u­men­tary web se­ries Hard Medicine, about a quirky well-loved med­i­cal doc­tor at a low-in­come health clinic who, with the help of her staff, fights greedy cor­po­rate heads to keep the clinic open. El­lis de­scribes it as Scrubs meets Parks and Recre­ation or The Of­fice. He leaves South Africa at the end of next week. “At the mo­ment I’m look­ing for­ward to Jay­ca­tion – Jay on va­ca­tion. I’m read­ing a few scripts right now, but don’t need to rush into anything. Luck­ily, I’m on a great show and work with great peo­ple and if that’s the only job I do ev­ery year then I’m very grate­ful for it and I can be a lit­tle picky.

“I’m also de­vel­op­ing a dig­i­tal project with Tris­ten J Winger, who plays Thug Yoda in In­se­cure, for Comedy Cen­tral. With that I’m just try­ing to use the plat­form that I have to give op­por­tu­ni­ties to other peo­ple.”

El­lis is on a per­sonal mis­sion to fight HIV/Aids in the black com­mu­nity, af­ter two fam­ily mem­bers con­tracted the dis­ease.

“In the 1990s I lost an un­cle to Aids and at the time we weren’t fully sure what it was. As I got a lit­tle bit older and started to re­alise how he passed, it was some­thing that re­ally hit me. I watched this man the last two days of his life; I watched him slip away.

“Later, I had an­other fam­ily mem­ber who con­tracted HIV, who lived for al­most 20 years with the virus. I re­alised that with this plat­form I couldn’t just not give back.

“I want to make sure that my com­mu­nity knows that we’re at risk and that this is some­thing that’s hit­ting us harder than any­one else.

“We need to wake up and be part of the con­ver­sa­tion about how we stop the spread, trans­mis­sion and in­fec­tion rate.”

El­lis has seen quite a bit of Cape Town in breaks dur­ing his rig­or­ous six-day work week.

“Camps Bay is ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful and re­minds me of Mal­ibu. Sea Point feels like ev­ery­day life. Khayelit­sha was a great cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. I got to go out and be with some­one who lives there, go to a house party and lis­ten to mu­sic and have a drink.

“Muizen­berg for surf­ing. I was ter­ri­fied that I’d get eaten by a shark the en­tire time. Con­stan­tia Nek – I had some great wine. But Ta­ble View is prob­a­bly my favourite be­cause you turn around and you see Ta­ble Moun­tain and Lion’s Head.”

El­lis says he can’t re­veal much about The Maze, di­rected by Adam Ro­bi­tel.

“This will be my first thriller and it has been in­ter­est­ing ... a lot of stunts and ac­tion. I’ve been able to do a lot of the things I haven’t been able to do on my other TV shows,” he says.

PHOTO: RANDY HOLMES / ABC VIA GETTY IM­AGES

SMIL­ING Jay El­lis wants to use his work to help make a dif­fer­ence to the lives of oth­ers

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