SCHENECTADY — Jermaine Wells caught the acting bug as a young boy growing up in the Bronx.
But after landing a number of theater and television roles, Wells — who has lived in Schenectady for the past 12 years — gave up acting at the behest of his mother, who feared the glitz and glamour of showbiz would take a toll.
“When I was 12 my mom thought I should take a break and pick up as an adult,” he said.
Wells, now in his 30s (“As an entertainer, I like to not say my age,” he said.) would turn to music as a creative outlet and moved to the Capital Region to attend The College of Saint Rose, where he majored in marketing and music industry studies.
While in college, he began searching for modeling gigs and auditioning for local television commercials as a way to make money. He’s appeared in a number of national and local television advertisements, including those for Blue Apron, New-Skin and Raymour & Flanigan.
Wells recently landed his first recurring television role in a new series that premiered last Sunday on NTD, a New York City-based network with an international presence. The company, founded in 2001 by a group of Chinese-Americans, focuses primarily on international news and is often critical of China’s Communist Party.
“A Good Cop,” the network’s first scripted show, follows three NYPD police officers at different stages of their career and mirrors current events, Wells said.
The network describes the show as “a daring new series that dives into the gritty daily lives of New York Police Department police at the height of today’s rising anti-police sentiment and scrutiny.”
“The premise of the show is to look at current events with some people’s anti-cop sentiment with protests and just looking at the internal day-to-day of three main cops. A captain, my partner in the show and a rookie female cop. It kind of circles around their characters,” Wells said. “It just kind of shows different parts of their life. It’s sort of bold in that it kind of tackles some of the civil unrest that is going on today.”
Wells said his character, officer Max Axel, appears in all 10 one-hour episodes in the series’ first season and frequently interacts with all three main characters.
Filming the show was a learning experience for Wells, who previously only filmed day roles or short features he had written.
The show was shot over a four-month period and wasn’t filmed in sequence, which forced the 30-something-year-old actor to rely on skills he learned during acting and improv classes.
“We’re not filming in sequence, so I’m sort of remembering and reminding myself, OK, what was the sentiment of the scene that I might have done the first part of a month ago,” he said. “To try and recreate the emotion and mindset of the character that was left off so long ago was an education.”
The cast gathered for a red carpet premiere days before the first episode aired, said Wells, who described seeing the finished product as an “incredible” experience.
“To see one self after having done maybe 30 takes of a show and to see how it played out — it was definitely amazing. An experience I will never forget,” he said.
For inspiration, Wells didn’t have to look far: His brother is a NYPD officer.
He said he was drawn to the role, which mirrors aspects of his own life, and melded aspects of himself and experiences he learned of talking with his brother.
“The character is in his early 30s. He’s a Black male from the Bronx, and as I was looking to some of those things — he’s serious about his jobs and he’s open — it looked like something where I could kind of create this character and sort of work this character,” he said.
In between acting gigs, Wells volunteers with the Hamilton Hills Arts Center, deejays and plays in his band, The Ill Funk Ensemble, which has released two albums.
He’s also in the process of writing a full-length feature film and plans to begin showing a short Christmas film currently in post-production he wrote and stars in at film festivals next year. Another short film he wrote, directed and stars in, “Time Crunch,” is now available to stream on WMHT.
Wells said he’s currently seeking new management to help him advance his career, which he hopes will soon expand beyond the Capital Region. He’s also looking to collaborate with other artists.
“I’m definitely someone who likes to collaborate. I think there’s a lot of talent in the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley region, so it’s something that I actively pursue,” he said.
Episode two of “A Good Cop” premieres Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on NDT, which can be watched on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Sony Smart TV. The episode can also be streamed live at: ntd.com/live.html.