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How Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman Convinced ‘UnREAL’ to Make His Character Gay (Video)

Bowyer-Chapman’s character, reality-show producer Jay, was originally written as a sleazy womanizer

Last Updated: March 19, 2018 @ 5:12 PM

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman took a few months off from acting because he wasn’t happy with the roles he was offered. That changed when he auditioned for “UnREAL” without hiding who he was.

“I knew that I wanted to primarily play queer characters,” Bowyer-Chapman told TheWrap. “You know, in this industry, being an openly queer actor or entertainer, you can play the game your way, or you can play it the industry’s way. And I decided to play it my way. I played it the industry’s way far too long … I felt like in many ways I was dimming my own light. I just never wanted to be in a position where I wouldn’t be able to walk down the street holding my partner’s hand.”

Though his “UnREAL” character, Jay, was originally written as a “sleazy, cheesy womanizer,” the writers were so impressed with Bowyer-Chapman that they decided to write the character to him.

“In many ways the writers write Jay to me … that’s how the character started. The character was a heterosexual character, a womanizer in the original pilot,  and then they reshot the pilot and said: ‘We like you more than we like Jay. We want him to be more as to how you operate in the world,” Bowyer-Chapman said.

Now, instead of being a manipulative jerk, Jay is more nuanced. He uses honesty, as well as strategy, to get characters on “Everlasting” — the fictional reality dating series within “UnREAL” — to do what he needs them to do.

In this season, the show’s third, Jay finally gets a shot at his own show. But given that “UnREAL” is filled with secrets and backstabbing, no ones going to make it easy to get the green light.

“After his win last season, he thought he was going to be strutting back into this season at the top of his game, but he knows it really doesn’t work that way in the world of ‘Everlasting.’ So he knows that if he is going to come back he has to align himself with Quinn,” played by Constance Zimmer.

Bowyer-Chapman also recently started his own podcast, “JBC Presents Conversations With Others” in which he focuses on, according to the show’s website, “the odd ones out, the queer kin, the bi-racial, gender-fluid, outspoken, courageous and crazy phenomenons who fall outside of the status-quo, dance joyfully in the margins of ‘Otherness’ and have managed to make an authentic, impactful mark against all odds.”

He also recently joined TheWrap’s “Shoot This Now” podcast, where we made the case for turning MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” the one with Puck and Pedro — into a 10-part drama. You can listen on Apple or right here:

“UnREAL” airs Mondays at 10/9c on Lifetime.