Shortly after graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School of New York University in 2021, African-American actor Jay Will was cast as Tyson in the crime drama series “Tulsa King”, considered by many to be the greatest role of his career yet, with a star-studded cast that includes the likes of Sylvester Stallone. However, Jay had already been active in the entertainment industry since 2014, when he was still going by his birth name of Joseph Watson.
From 2015 to 2019, Jay appeared in several shorts – “Word Is Bond”, “Champion”, and “Zero” – and also starred in the music video for “Islands: No Milk, No Sugar”. He also had a minor role in the series “Ladies Like Us: The Rise of Neighborhood Watch”. Overall, 2019 was an excellent year for the thespian as he made his film debut, with a role as Zay in “Buffed Up!: The Movie”.
Following a brief hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jay was back and better than ever with a guest-starring gig in “Evil”. He then portrayed Tyson Mitchell in “Tulsa King”, which received glowing reviews from viewers and critics alike, and has been described as a mix of “Yellowstone” and “The Sopranos”.
In the show, Sylvester plays Dwight Manfredi, a New York Mafia capo who is sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma by his boss, to establish criminal operations there. In the first episode, viewers learned that Dwight had just served a 25-year prison sentenced for murder. With no contacts in Oklahoma, the mafioso soon recruited Tyson, who started off working as his driver. As the first member of the Manfredi crime syndicate, Tyson learned the tricks of the trade from Dwight and became one of his closest confidants.
Other leading characters include Dwight’s love interest – Stacy Beale, a senior ATF agent played by Andrea Savage – and drug dealer Lawrence Geigerman – played by Martin Starr – who is hired by Dwight to help fund the syndicate. As the first season had just eight episodes, there was plenty of action packed in, and a number of interweaving storylines, such as Dwight’s attempt to reunite with his estranged daughter Tina.
The last episode of the show ended with Dwight killing the leader of a local outlaw biker club in hand-to-hand combat. Despite reconciling with his daughter, they had little time to bond as Dwight was arrested and accused of bribing a federal officer. Viewers were left understandably stunned by the cliffhanger ending, but satisfied in the knowledge that Paramount+ had already renewed the series for a second season after just three episodes, thanks to its record-breaking figures.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing: in February 2023, a month after the last episode aired, showrunner Terence Winter stepped down citing creative differences. The SAG-AFTRA strike also threw a wrench in the works for obvious reasons, and it was also reported that the second season would be filmed outside of Oklahoma, due to the extreme temperatures and financial costs.
It’s been almost a year since the season finale aired, but fans of Jay didn’t have to wait long to see him, as he began playing James in “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel”. Instead of sticking to familiar territory, the actor decided to do a 180 with a role in a period comedy drama set in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The star of “Mrs Maisel” is Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the title character: an affluent Jewish-American housewife who begins pursuing a career in stand-up comedy after discovering her knack for making people laugh. Other leads are Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, and Marin Hinkle to name just three. Thanks to a critically-acclaimed pilot episode, the show was immediately picked up by Amazon Studios, and premiered in March 2017. The fifth and final season premiered in April 2023 and wrapped up a month later.
“Mrs Maisel” is certainly an impressive show to add to Jay’s resume, as it previously won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, as well as the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
As for new projects, Jay recently finished filming the title role in “Rob Peace”, which has a 2024 premiere date and is currently in post-production stages. The biography-drama movie is written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Rob’s father, and is based on the Jeff Hobbs biography “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace”. Robert DeShaun Peace was born in June 1980 in New Jersey and grew up in a dysfunctional household, as his parents didn’t live together, and his father, Skeet, was a drug dealer. Rob’s mother worked long hours to be able to send her academically gifted son to St. Benedict’s Preparatory School; however, Skeet’s negative influence tainted Rob’s childhood and adolescence, which was marked by prison visits following his father’s arrest and conviction for murder.
After high school, bank executive Charles Cawley paid Rob’s way through Yale University. There, the New Jersey native lived a double life, as he earned over $100,000 selling marijuana while studying molecular biophysics and biochemistry. In 2002, Rob graduated with honors; he then taught biology for four years at his old high school, despite slipping further and further into the murky underworld of drugs, which he both sold and consumed.
At just 30 years old, Rob was killed in a drug-related shooting. The poignant biography of his life was a runner-up for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in the nonfiction category, also winning the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest.
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Although a quick search of Jay’s name on social media pulls up a number of profiles – some with up to 100,000 followers – the actor is extremely lowkey, and only has 2,000 followers and four posts at time of writing. His uploads are sporadic, but mark important moments in his career, such as the “Tulsa King” premiere and an article confirming his upcoming role in “Rob Peace”. Jay’s interest for fashion also shines through in his posts, as he always looks well put-together and loves to wear Prada and other designer brands.
According to online sources, Jay is 5ft 11ins (180cm) tall and weighs about 145lbs (65kgs). His net worth is believed to be close to $250,000.