If the newscaster on your favorite series looks familiar, it’s probably Jay Jackson, a former real-life field reporter who’s become the go-to guy for playing news anchors.
Jackson — who’s helped launch hundreds of careers since founding the Los Angeles Reporters Clinic in 2003, to assist with demo reels — spent 22 years as a reporter, most recently at Los Angeles’s KCAL. His acting career came about by accident when he posed as an anchor on a client’s reel.
“She was an actress,” Jackson explains. “Her manager saw it and asked if I’d be interested in auditioning for TV shows. The first one I went to was for Dexter, and I got the gig. That’s when the bug bit. Casting directors started getting in touch with me, and it just snowballed. Then Perd Hapley on Parks and Recreation took everything over the top.”
On the NBC comedy, Perderick L. Hapley was a Pawnee television journalist and host of shows like Ya Heard? With Perd! There’s even a name for fans of the character: Perdverts.
“When I did Dexter, the director was Tony Goldwyn, so I think he had some input in casting me [as newscaster Mike Waters] in Scandal.” Jackson has since played newsmen — often as recurring characters — on Supergirl, The Catch, Pretty Little Liars, Bones and more.
When not acting, Jackson is a jazz singer who performs a Lou Rawls tribute. He’s also a trained chef, a horror novelist, and has written The Baldwin Hillbillies comic strip since 2013. While he’d like to write another novel based on events he witnessed during his years on the “death and destruction beat,” his dream is to turn the comic strip into an animated series.
“It’s a good time to shift from acting to the production side,” Jackson says, “because I’m just a news guy who can play a funny news guy. I don’t think my future is in acting, but I’ll take as many gigs as I can get playing a reporter. That’s what I know how to do.”