Also Credited As:Jayma Suzette Mays
|Jayma Suzette Mays on July 16, 1979 in Grundy, Virginia, USA|
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Jayma Suzette Mays was born on July 16, 1979 in Grundy, VA. After graduating from Grundy Senior High School in 1997, Mays attended Radford University and received her Performing Arts degree in 2001. Three years later, the actress made her television debut as Matt LeBlanc's quirky neighbor Molly on the "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) spin-off series, "Joey" (NBC, 2004-06). The show lasted only two seasons, but Mays was well on her way to adding feature film acting to her resume. She had a supporting role in the Wes Craven-directed thriller "Red Eye" (2005) about a hotel manager (Rachel McAdams) terrorized by an assassin (Cillian Murphy) while onboard a flight to Miami. What followed was a stream of one-episode appearances on television, including "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005- ), the Pamela Anderson vehicle "Stacked" (Fox, 2005-06), and "House, M.D." (Fox, 2004- ), in which Mays played a lesbian patient. In 2006, the actress was cast in the pilot "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now" (Fox) a comedy about a group of young acting hopefuls living in the same L.A. apartment complex, which never aired. However, it left the door wide open for the actress to gain even more exposure with casting agents.
Mays expanded her acting profile with recurring roles in a string of highly acclaimed TV series. She played a Hollywood agent's witty and sassy assistant on HBO's "Entourage" (2004- ) before landing a supernatural role on NBC's "Heroes" (NBC, 2006- ). Mays played Charlie, a diner waitress with telepathic powers and the love interest of time traveler Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka). Although her character is eventually murdered by the series' primary villain, Sylar (Zachary Quinto), she reprised the role of Hiro's ill-fated girlfriend on a 2009 episode that found him zipping back in time to save his sweetheart. Mays and Oka also played lovers on "Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control" (2008), a direct-to-DVD release inspired by the feature film "Get Smart" (2008). In 2007, Mays returned to comedy with a recurring role on ABC's fish-out-of-water series "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006- ), in which she portrayed Charlie, the scheming and back-stabbing girlfriend of Betty Suarez's (America Ferrara) workplace crush, Henry (Christopher Gorham). The doe-eyed actress was deliciously evil as her character befriended Betty as a ploy to block the budding romance between the bespectacled heroine and her own boyfriend. Charlie finally crushed Betty's hopes of falling in love by announcing she was pregnant with Henry's child. The love triangle injected the perfect dose of drama and tension to the show's well-received first season.
After appearing on a couple of independent films such as "Blind Dating" (2006) and the Gregg Araki-directed "Smiley Face" (2007), Mays starred in the blockbuster spoof "Epic Movie" (2007) as Lucy, one of four adult orphans held captive by the mysterious and sinister chocolate-maker Willy (Crispin Glover). "Epic Movie" skewered mainstream favorites from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005) to "Pirates of the Caribbean" (2006) all the way to claiming the top spot in the box office during its opening weekend. The film not only exposed Mays' comedic talents to a wider audience, it also introduced her to co-star Adam Campbell, whom she married on Oct. 28, 2007. That same year, Mays played an eccentric mother and her windmill-working daughter in an unforgettable dual role on the short-lived cult comedy, "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, 2007-09).
Two years after starring in "Epic Movie," Mays was back on the big screen as a big-haired and sweet-natured mall kiosk worker in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." The Adam Sandler-produced comedy followed "King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) star James as a New Jersey policeman-turned-security guard protecting a local mall held hostage by a gang of bank robbers. Mays' Kewpie doll charm won the heart of the title character and was the film's breakout star, helping "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" earn over $31 million during its three-day opening weekend, while her co-star James became the new king of physical comedy. Just when 2009 could not get any better for the actress, she hit the Hollywood jackpot with a starring role on "Glee," a musical comedy series from "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 2003- ) creator, Ryan Murphy. The project was unlike anything the actress had done before, with music highly featured alongside a comedy plotline. Mays admitted in interviews her only musical job prior to "Glee" was performing at weddings in Virginia with a friend and getting paid with free food from the reception.
The toe-tapping "Glee" had all the makings of a television hit. Set in a Midwestern high school, the show starred a young, talented and good-looking cast - including Broadway veterans Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele - who performed campy musical renditions of classic and Top 40 hits week after week. The over-the-top performances enhanced the already engaging story of a group of teen outcasts who join their high school's struggling glee club. Mays was pitch-perfect as Emma Pillsbury, the school's supportive but slightly neurotic guidance counselor. "Glee" hilariously explored each of its characters' quirks and Mays' germ-fearing Emma certainly had her fair share. The sanitizer-carrying germaphobe was secretly in love with the glee club's mentor Will (Morrison), even though she agreed to marry the school's football coach (Patrick Gallagher). Mays and Morrison's addictive onscreen pair-up quickly joined the ranks of television's "It" couples that include Ross and Rachel from "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) and Jim and Pam from "The Office" (NBC, 2005-2013). The show's music also became a cultural phenomenon, with a cover of Journey's 1981 power ballad "Don't Stop Believin'" going gold and the soundtrack, Glee: The Music, Volume 1, doing equally well on the pop charts. Mays displayed her vocal chops in the "Mash-Up" episode that aired in October 2009, with a lovely rendition of "I Could Have Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady" (1964).
In 2011, Mays was back on the big screen with a significant part in the cartoon-inspired live-action/CGI-animated hit "The Smurfs," playing Grace, the wife of Neil Patrick Harris' lead, Patrick. After a guest stint on the sitcom "The League" (FX, 2009- ) and a return to "How I Met Your Mother," Mays was featured in "The Smurfs 2" during the summer of 2013. Around this time, she also revealed that she would be leaving "Glee," making the fifth season of the show her last as a regular cast member.