Exclusive: The Game’s Jay Ellis on the Final Season
BET’s The Game came back in full swing on January 14 and while we were pretty happy to learn just what happened after the wedding disaster with Chardonnay (Brandy) and Jason Pitts (Cody Bell), we couldn’t help but feel a little sad that the Season 8 premiere was the beginning of the show’s end. As you know, Season 9 will be the final season for the show and when Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with the actor, he dished a bit on what’s in store for his character Bryce “Blueprint” Westbrook, working with the likes of Brandy, and saying goodbye to it all.
Wetpaint Entertainment: How do you feel about the premiere of The Game Season 8?
Jay Ellis: I feel awesome about it. It’s not many shows that get to go up for eight, well no, nine seasons. Not many shows get to have that run. I think I work with some of the most committed people on TV, and some craftsman and some people who are really fit for the job. We don’t get to see anything, so when the show airs, we’re watching it for the first time as the fans are watching it. I’m literally on the sidelines cheering all the time because I’m excited to see everybody’s work because we’re always shooting and we all shoot together.
The Game has a pretty diverse cast with Brandy, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Lauren London all being a part of it. What is it like to work with them?
It is amazing. It’s one of those things where you want to be present all the time because something is about to happen. Somebody is about to make a joke, or sing a song, or tell a story from an experience in their career, so it’s amazing. It’s a great group and we all click together in a special way. And you know Coby, Brandy, Wendy, and if you throw in Brittany [Daniel], those four have a thousand episodes of television in between them so their experience is amazing, and they’re so gracious and humble, and loving and just good people. Getting to work with them is amazing and getting to work with them is a blast, so I couldn’t ask for a better first job.
Lauren London plays your character’s on-screen counterpart, Kiera. What’s it like working opposite her?
Lauren and I are super cool. I call her my little sister, she calls me my little brother. I don’t know who’s right. I think we’re both probably grown up in a different way, and it’s been really cool to have her there and for her to be the one I went through this experience with, because she was always there and present and she always wanted Kiera and Blue’s relationship and I, obviously, wanted the same. There’s a lot of things she’s taught me. Like, right out the gate, I’d be standing in her light and she’d tell me, ‘hey, you’re standing in my light. You have to move,’ and as an actor you have to know that. And it took me a minute to learn that, you the repetition of being on set. you know and those little things like that she helped me with. She’s great.
Season 7 left off with Blue and Keira’s engagement — a pretty big milestone. What can we expect from them in Season 8?
It’s a milestone, you know, it’s a very very interesting road they take. Choosing to elope is a very interesting thing. You know, young Hollywood starlets and football players, apparently it’s something they do often, but they think it’s a normal thing to do … and, you know, Blue and Keira are working through that decision as they move towards those nuptials. And you know, is it right for them, should they wait, should they not wait, are they meant to be forever? They’re thinking through all those things as they make their way there.
I can’t tell you what happens. It’s definitely a funny moment that they go through. It’s a grand moment and then it kind of crumbles from there.
Will we see much of a character arc or character development for Blue this year?
He has a transformation. He really has a big transformation. Blue starts out as cocky and an ass, and not a good teammate and just thinks he knows it all and he falls in love and, at times, he gets his heart broken a little bit. But in time … by the end of Season 8, definitely you see him grow up into the man that everyone thought he was supposed to be when he first started the show. He lives up to that “Blueprint” title. He becomes a better man, a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better football player. He definitely grows up and starts to take more responsibility for himself.
I mean, he has to fall a couple times to learn a lesson. He still always ends up with mud on his face, and still always ends up messing up, but he learns along the way and he really grows up. And, actually, it was really fun to play that. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to act such great arcs and from where this guy starts to where he ends in Season 9, he’s a whole other person.
Are there any similarities between you and Blue?
We are very different. From time to time, there are things we’re I’m like ‘I agree with that.’ I like his worth ethic. His work ethic is something that I 100 percent buy into. I think that’s always kind of been me and my personality. I love work. It’s never bothered me to work nonstop and not really have a break. It’s kinda of what keeps me going and keeps me inspired. So there’s that. I think overall, he’s a little more stubborn than I am, a little more hard-headed. I think he expects more of people around him in an entitled way, than what I expect. Then there’s moments where he’s goofy and reads books and is like a nerd and that’s more like me.
We know that Season 9 will be the final season of the show. Have you guys started shooting?
Season 9’s already shot. We shot Season 8 and Season 9 at the same time — we shot them back to back this fall in Atlanta. It’s still really cool to know the work is already done and trust it. The writers did a phenomenal job, they’re so awesome and Mara [Brock Akil] is just such an amazing leader so it’s amazing to see it all come together and watch it and not stress out about it.
How are you feeling now that the show — since it’s been shot — is over?
I’m in a good place about it. It’s 9 years, 147 episodes when it’s all said and done, and the original six all really laid the groundwork for a really great show. And, you know, black America hasn’t had a show run like this for 9 years for a really long time. And I’d like to think that it paved the way for other shows and other things, you know? Kenya Barris, who was one of our executive producers from day one went on to create Blackish,which is on ABC now. So I’d like to think that this success — don’t get me wrong, we have phenomenal writers — but I’d like to think his success with The Game lent itself to his success on ABC. And I think each of these guys’ careers will benefit in a major way because of the cult show that they’ve created and led and stayed true with these characters for so long. I mean, I’m happy about it. I’m glad for the opportunity and it’s the right time.
Aside from The Game, do you have any upcoming projects?
I have November Rule, a feature I did last year, coming out on Valentine’s Day. Then I have another feature that’s out there called Breaking Through, but that doesn’t have a release date yet.
What are some things about you fans wouldn’t guess?
Oh man, um, well I love to read. I just started boxing, and I don’t know… what else? Um, I want to be fluent in as many languages as I can, although so far… it’s only one. So it’s not really working out. [Laughs]
I think I love to learn. And I don’t know if that’s necessarily a “nerdy” quality, but I really enjoy learning, so for me, books. Like I love to read children’s books to self help to fiction to romance — no not romance — like theGame of Throne books, stuff like that. I read everything. If it’s entertaining and I can learn something from it, I’ll pick it up. I think I read like eight books while we were on production for Season 8 and 9 this year, so like little things like that. I watch Nat Geo and the Discovery Channel, things like that all the time.
The Game airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET. on BET.
Are you a fan of The Game? Tell us what you think of the show ending next season in the comments below!