Jay Ellis is a pretty busy guy. Outside of hit series Insecure, the actor and producer is working on a number of projects, one of which is the new web series Hard Medicine.
The series, produced by Ellis and his producing partner Paula Bryant-Ellis, is a workplace comedy in the vein of The Office. The first two episodes of the series are available on Ellis’ Facebook page and the Urban Movie Channel (UMC) has picked up the remainder of the eight-episode first season.
While similar comedies have had a few people of color in its cast, the star of Hard Medicine is Dr. Harriet Moore, played by Nicole Slaughter, a black woman in charge of a low-income health clinic.
“We always felt that for us, it’s The Office meets Scrubs, but with people of color” Ellis told ESSENCE. “People of color have worked in medicine just like everybody else. We can use this type of filmmaking in that type of way to tell a story and to tell a comedy just like anyone else can.”
The show is the brainchild of Melissa Eno Effa, who plays the acerbic Clarice. “She [Melissa] came up with this concept and I was like ‘I want to shoot it like this.’ This is the kind of show I grew up on and love. And, these clinics in black neighborhoods have always been faced with being shut down, but what still service the community.”
Soon after teaming up with Melissa, UMC called and offered to bring the show over to their network, becoming another in a list of web hits to become television successes.
“The barrier to entry has gotten torn down,” Ellis said. “What we’re finding and what all these networks are finding and different digital services are finding is that the web is a great testing ground. You can put things out there, tighten them up and build an audience around them.”
And, nowhere is that more evident than Ellis’ hit series Insecure, created by and starring Issa Rae. The HBO show was inspired by Rae’s own successful web series, Awkward Black Girl, which saw Rae awkwardly navigating adulthood and dating.
Insecure is now in its second season and has been renewed for a third, which means the new and dedicated Lawrence Hive will get to see their boy once again.
“I never expected that,” Ellis adds, when asked about his new fans. “You never expect it.”
Reflecting on the insanity of Insecure’s season one finale, Ellis said, “I was on a thirteen hour flight, so I actually missed the finale. When I landed I turned on my phone and my battery died before I could even get home because my phone was ringing so much. So many text messages came through and I kept getting updates on Twitter and Instagram, it was insane.”
“You know, you never think a hive is going to happen, it’s something you can’t control.”
Ellis added, “I see Lawrence and I see a lot of my friends. I see a lot of things I’ve done and have gone through. There are so many things he’s going through that are relatable and I think that is something that is really cool. To see so many black men be able to see representation of themselves on television. That to me is what the hive is all about.”
You can watch episodes of Ellis’ new series, Hard Medicine, every Wednesday on UMC. And, fans can get seven days free with code HMonUMC17.