Jay Ali left England for LA just over five years ago. He had no contacts, no prospects and no acting experience. Though he was greeted by a sea of people telling him he was wasting his time in Hollywood, he stuck with it.
Currently starring as Timothy on ABC Family’s The Fosters, he’s been working consistently for the past three years.
ATX Gossip asked him to share some of his experiences and offer a bit of advice to others looking to get into the biz.
What is it like living and acting in LA?
I love living in LA. It very quickly felt like home. The weather is amazing. LA has been very good to me. Not just with work, but I’ve also made amazing friends here. And the weather is amazing. But it certainly helps to be here doing what I love and being paid for it. And the weather is amazing. Have I already said that?
How did you get started acting and when did you decide to move to LA?
I moved to LA in 2009. It was a last minute decision. I had never acted before I came to LA. I was doing things that I hated or had no interest in doing and I thought to myself, “Why are you wasting your life doing this when you know you want to act?” So I packed up a bag a flew out to LA. I didn’t know anyone or anything. I just knew I was doing the right thing. I met plenty of people who told me I was wasting my time and should go back to England, as I had no business trying to be an actor in LA when they had been here for years and it hadn’t really worked out for them. They assured me that no manager or agent would touch me and I would never get an audition. I met my managers a month after arriving.
Tell us a little bit about your experience working on The Fosters.
I’ve been very very lucky to be a part of such a ground breaking show. It’s been a great experience working with some hugely talented and kind people. I’ve been on the show since we did the pilot at the end of 2012. So, to see it grow into what it is today has been pretty special. I never knew what was going to happen to my character or if he would even be in the show after the first episode. Thankfully, Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Page, the creators of the show, kept bringing Timothy back and giving him very interesting story lines. I was very grateful for that. And now Timothy has turned into a kind of fan favorite. Seeing the kids in the show mature into young adults has been really cool. They would probably say I’ve gotten more immature as the show has gone on. We shoot at Warner Bros studios so walking onto the lot each time I shoot is a very special feeling.
What are some of your other favorite acting jobs/ experiences?
Playing Timothy on The Fosters is always nice. I know him quite well now. I did a flim a few years back called Darling Companion where I worked with Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Sam Shepard, Diane Weist, plus many other actors that I hugely admire. It was directed by Larry Kasdan, who is a legend in his own right. It was my first movie so that was a pretty special experience.
Any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?
I will be appearing on NCIS on the 24th of March. And I will be going to Portland at the end of May to shoot a new show for the CW. That’s all I can say about that. It’s top secret!!!
What advice do you have for Austinites looking to get into acting?
Just do it. If it’s really what you want to do and there is nothing else you can see yourself doing, then just go and do it. The beauty of this industry, and sometimes the downside, is that there is no rhyme or
reason to anything that’s done out here. You could become a star overnight with your first audition, or it could take you 10 years to get your first gig, or it may never work out for you. But you will never know unless you just go out there and do it. If someone like me has found a little bit of success, then anyone can. Stay positive and enjoy it.
What should every actor know before moving to LA?
They should know that no one knows anything. Just follow your instincts.
What is your favorite TV show or movie that takes place in Texas?
My mom was a huge Dallas fan back in the day so as a kid I grew up watching that show. I had a crush on Bobby’s wife. What was her name? I think it was Pamela (yes, it was Pamela, played by Victoria Principal). Do we know who shot JR yet??
Who would play you in the story of your life?
That’s a good one. If my son gets into acting then I would say he would do it. He’s more handsome then me though… and probably a better actor.
How can producers/ casting directors get in touch with you?
Through my managers: David and Kanica at Sweeney Entertainment. I love them.
You can learn more about Jay’s acting experiences on his IMDb page.