Jamia Suzette "Jayma" Mays is an American actress known for portraying Emma Pillsbury in the Fox musical series ‘Glee’ and Charlie Andrews in the NBC sci-fi serial ‘Heroes’. She is also a singer and has performed several songs on ‘Glee’. A native of Tennessee, Mays initially did not have any plans to pursue acting as a career. However, that changed after she turned 15 and started practising drama and oral interpretations with one of her teachers. Later, she studied theatre at Radford University. Mays made her screen debut in 2004 in an episode of the NBC sitcom ‘Joey’. A year later, she appeared in her first feature film, the mystery-thriller ‘Red Eye’. Mays’ breakthrough role came about in 2007 when she was cast as the recurring character Charlie in ABC’s comedy-drama ‘Ugly Betty’. Her other significant portrayals include Trixie Von Stein in ‘The League’, Debbie in ‘The Millers’, Suzi Sasso in ‘Getting On’, Carol Anne Keane in ‘Trial & Error’, and several characters in ‘Drunk History’.
While Jayma Mays was a student at Radford, she performed opposite soap opera actor Matthew Ashford in a 2000 production of ‘Arcadia’. Distinguished by her red hair and large hazel eyes, Mays has made a career out of portraying odd, quirky characters. In 2004, she landed her first television role, playing a character named Molly in the third episode of the first season of ‘Friends’ spin-off, ‘Joey’. In 2005, she worked with Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Cox in her big screen debut, Wes Craven’s ‘Red Eye’.
In 2006, she portrayed a patient suffering from the black plague in an episode of Fox’s medical drama ‘House’. In Clint Eastwood’s ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ (2006), she played a nurse stationed in Hawaii. She played Lucy Pervertski, a spoof of Lucy Pevensie (‘The Chronicles of Narnia’) in ‘Epic Movie’. Between 2007 and 2008, she appeared in eight episodes of ‘Ugly Betty’, portraying the enthusiastic and charming arts and crafts designer Charlie. In ‘Heroes’, she was cast as Charlie Andrews, a woman with an advanced enhanced memory that gives her the power to analyse and comprehend anything she memorizes.
Mays appeared as an interior decorator and former fiancée of Andre Nowzick (Paul Scheer), Trixie Von Stein, in FX’s sitcom ‘The League’ from 2012 to 2014. In CBS’ sitcom ‘The Millers’ (2013-15), Mays portrayed Debbie Stoker, an exasperated daughter of the divorcing Tom and Carol Miller (Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale). She was a member of the main cast of ‘Glee’, playing the guidance counsellor Emma Pillsbury from the pilot episode of the show. Mays also performed the songs her character was supposed to sing.
In the US version of ‘Getting On’, which aired on HBO between 2013 and 2015, Mays was cast as corporate representative Suzi Sasso. In 2015, she started lending her voice to Dulcinea and Werewolfman in the animated web show ‘The Adventures of Puss in Boots’. Mays worked with Nicholas D'Agosto, Steven Boyer, and Sherri Shepherd in the NBC sitcom ‘Trial & Error’ (2017-18). She has also guest-starred in several episodes of Comedy Central’s educational comedy series ‘Drunk History’ (2014-19).
On the big screen, she has portrayed the love interest of Kevin James’ character in ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ (2009), worked with Neil Patrick Harris in ‘Smurfs 2’ (2013), and shared screen space with Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ (2017).
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Family & Personal Life
Born on July 16, 1979, in Bristol, Tennessee, USA, Jayma Mays is the third and youngest child of Susan Paulette (née Norris) and James Edwin Mays. She has an older brother, Jonathan, and an older sister, Julia. Her father was a high school teacher before joining the coal mining industry. He has since retired. She began learning the piano when she was four years old. By the time she turned nine, she was playing at weddings. She was also part of the cheerleading squad at her school as well as actively participated in sporting events. She was an exemplary student as well, excelling especially at mathematics. However, she did not consider acting to be a career option for her. At the age of 15, she began practising drama and oral interpretations with a teacher at Grundy High School. During this period, she also received a job offer to read obituaries for a local radio station. After getting an associate’s degree from Southwest Virginia Community College, Mays enrolled at Virginia Tech. However, she left about a year later to attend Radford University, where she studied theatre and graduated in December 2000.
In 2006, Mays met English actor Adam Campbell while they were both filming the spoof-comedy ‘Epic Movie’. On October 28, 2007, they exchanged their wedding vows. Their son, Jude Jones, was born in November 2016.