We caught up with Actor/Producer Jay Montalvo recently and asked him if he would be kind enough to spend sometime with us, to fill us in on his journey as an Artist.
“Thank you, where do I begin? I suppose I’ll give a you a short history of what led me to becoming an actor and hopefully a takeaway on a personal perspective. I was hit by the acting bug as early as 5, did performances in school plays and really took it to heart in High School, doing a presentation of “All my sons” for all the Senior and junior classes on behalf of the H.S. Drama club. During that stint (which lasted a semester), my Drama teacher encouraged me to try out at the time, for Grease on Broadway. That was a very scary endeavor that I battled with as I had made up my mind that acting was fun, but in the real world, I needed a career worthy of my parents admiration…Meaning being an artist wouldn’t cut the mustard. So I politely declined and took to my goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. Well, as the story goes, things do change. Through college I declared a major in Biology with a pre-med concentration. By my senior year, I had serious doubts about where my passion lay and felt the artistic side yearn more and more. Upon graduation and back to NYC where I grew up, I had to pursue this angst to find out what that artist path would be like.
I found my way to acting classes and dedicated myself to Meisner work with The Gately/Poole Conservatory, particularly with Rick Poole who taught at Rutgers University Drama Dept. as well, and became a member of LLoyd Williamson’s Actors Movement Studio. I worked as a bartender at premier Night Clubs of NYC, which helped with my financial picture,” shares Jay.
“I started out in Commercial and Print side with an agent that took an immediate liking to me and sent me out on auditions. After a year of tasting rejection after rejection, I landed a role in a Public service announcement that gave me access to becoming a SAG member (I had achieved AFTRA separately; they were not merged unions at the time). This led to a National Dr. Pepper Commercial entitled “Billiards”…It featured about 9 of us really young guys at the time with the now “Sam Rockwell”, who was just Sam to me then (who knew). Auditions for many plays mostly off Broadway, with the occasional Broadway opportunity, and film auditions led the journey in to full engagement…I could now call myself a professional actor. Fast forward to Hollywood: I had decided (much to the dismay of my agent), to move to Hollywood and see if I could get cast in Film and Television. This was the 90’s and there wasn’t the opportunity in NY, like there is now, so Hollywood seemed the logical choice. Boy! I mean what I had never experienced in NY (the starving artist), I did in L.A. It took every bit of my tenacity to not give up. With the occasional commercial here and there and some side jobs to survive, I got a little break in a big movie called “Get Shorty” with John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny Devito and Renee Russo, that was quite the thrill of my life. What seemed like a final destination as an idea of finally arriving became a start to a very challenging and bumpy road. Having said that, I realized that my career would not be an overnight success (I call myself the Abe Vigoda of the business), coupled with the lack of projects written with my particular look in mind, the journey would be long and testing. I was and still am determined to rise above the obstacles and continue in this great and fun business, despite its difficult and often Sisyphian nature,” shares Jay.
“In retrospect, it has been a great ride. I have been fortunate enough to Guest Star on Television and work in Films; done over 100 commercial spots, voice work etc. Starred in two series, (the Pilot of one which played on SyFy network and globally), recurred on General Hospital as the D.A. and come to the plate on many great projects that didn’t go my way, but soon the tide will turn (I’m in the game). My latest gig will be a role on Jane the Virgin and speaking of commercials, I have National spot for Cialis currently on air and waiting to hear regarding some independent movies shooting this summer. I am also a producer, mostly in the Film game and most recently involved in getting a very big project that includes a novel to the screen (a work in progress). I have built some great relationships in this long journey and can’t wait to see what’s to come for me moving forward. You can find me on Social Media FB and Twitter as well as the IMDB,” says Jay.
Photos by Bjoern Kommerell