Sexiest Men Alive alumnus JR Rolley is a New York-based actor, model and media host. The Bronx beauty talks to Jesse Archer about his upcoming gay thriller, handling indecent proposals and how to get a year’s worth of hot chocolate with his 2014 calendar.
DNA: What does JR stand for? Can I call you that?
JR Rolley: You can call me whatever you want! My first job doing interviews was on a cable access channel and the producers suggested I go by my initials. JR stands for Jermaine Rolley. You first swooped into the public view as
Derek in the 2004 romantic comedy Slutty Summer, but despite the title, you never got fully nude. Why not?! Under the right circumstances, nudity can be very beneficial... but many people take it off just for the hell of it. I like to make it count. Derek is a perfect gentleman. How close is this character to the real JR? People still call and ask me about Derek! I love that character but I’m not perfect by far. I am a gentleman and in relationships I work hard at consistency.
You reprised the role in A Four Letter Word and Violet Tendencies. How do you feel about appearing in such raunchy gay films? Raunchy or not, the acting was honest. We were and still are a family and I hope we will all work together again someday!
As a black man, what pressures (culturally or otherwise) did you face coming out? I feel a contrast to my white brothers in that homophobia is more rigid in my culture. But, I didn’t have to deal with any negative pressure. I’m an only child and my parents separated when I was 20, so when I told them it was not easy, but their love never wavered. I bought my mom a string of pearls that she clutches until this day when I discuss things in my life.
As a gay man of colour, do you feel more responsibility to be a role model to the next generation and why do you feel we don’t see more minorities represented in gay media? I’m still relatively unknown so I don’t know if the role model thing applies, but one day I will gladly accept that responsibility. I volunteer with New York Cares doing everything from feeding the homeless to walking dogs at animal shelters to hosting Bingo at retirement homes. I learned that thinking outside yourself keeps things in perspective. When I was growing up, RuPaul was the only gay person of colour who was bold, proud and unapologetic! There were and are many gay entertainers who are too ashamed to be themselves. If more entertainers had a different outlook we would have a different outcome. So maybe one day a little Black, Latino or Asian boy will see me and say to himself, “If he can do it, I can as well.”
As a TV and online host, who have been your favourite interviews? People like Andy Cohen and Ciara, but Russell Simmons made the biggest impact. I interviewed him at the GLAAD Awards in New York, where he won an award for his gay rights advocacy and for specifically working at getting the hip hop community to become involved because he knows hip hop has such a major influence. He was just so passionate and excited to get this award.
You’ve been featured as one of DNA’s Sexiest Men Alive. Do you have any stalkers? What is the strangest proposition you have received? I’ve had several, but the creepiest one was when I left a party in midtown and went to get my car from the parking garage and there was this letter on my windshield. The letter was very detailed about how they felt about me and my career. How did they know this was my car and who would look for it in a garage and place this long, creepy letter on it?
Do you ever accept propositions from fans? Propositions are all pretty superficial, but I did get asked out by a pro ball player from the NFC North Division recently.
How did that go? We met for a beer in a sports bar. I got the sense he likes everything his way and there is no room for anything else. If and when he reads this I might get another text...
What do you find sexy? Confidence and jock straps.
Congrats on the very sexy JR 2014
I left a party in midtown and went to get my car from the parking garage and there was this long, creepy letter on my windshield.
calendar. How did this come about? I was approached to do a calendar, but during negotiations we hit a wall between the creative direction and financing. I realised that I had enough experience and resources to do it myself and so here I am! Tell us about your upcoming film, Bait. Bait is a suspense thriller written by Lee Hayes. I play Lenox, a guy who has it all; he’s married to a man who loves him and has a great job. Lenox’s best friend Emmanuel reveals feelings and desires that are not reciprocated... but Emanuel simply won’t take no for an answer. Sounds like he’s about to leave a note on your windshield! Whose career would you most like to emulate? I love Mario Lopez’s career. He has great exposure and yet he’s able to maintain a low-key lifestyle. Have you ever been mistaken for JRR Tolkien? God rest his soul! I don’t think I have, seeing as he left this earth before I was born!
more: Areyoubait.com. JR’s 2014 Calendar is available at his website: JustJR.net.