If you’re a fan of the hit show SMASH, odds are, you have said some unfriendly remarks about the character named Ellis, played by Jaime Cepero. Starring in his first television debut, Cepero plays a conniving assistant that is fully equipped with ambition, brainpower, and ruthless determination. Though he comes off a bit cold-hearted on screen, the Boston-born actor, who has voiced commercials for American Eagle Outfitters and starred in several theatre productions, talked to us about his wishes to end world hunger and encourage others to shine bright.
With a second season of SMASH on the way, Jaime is taking on the surprising ride of his life.
Check out our exclusive interview with Jaime Cepero, the man behind America’s new villain.
Was it a challenge for you to take on the role of Ellis?
I guess it was a little challenging. Jamie is a really different guy than Ellis so I have to do a little homework and research on people of his nature. I’ve also met some people of his kind before so I had to pull a little bit from my own experiences. But, yeah it was a little bit of a challenge.
What do you like most about your character?
I really admire his ambition and going after what he wants. I’m pretty ambitious but I feel if I had as much ambition as him, I don’t know where I would be. I also like that he is a layered character. Most characters on the show are defined, and Ellis is the only one who is un-defying which is exciting because, as an actor, you can go anywhere with him.
With no major credentials and after 3 long months of auditioning for this role, you finally got the call that changed your life. How did you feel? Did you feel more pressured to shine?
First, I was really excited I got the role. It was very emotional for me because I was going through a tough time in my life. But, I was definitely very nervous because it was like 24 hrs later I’m sitting in room with Anjelica Huston. I just thought this was nuts (Laughs). I did feel more pressured but everybody was very helpful and supportive and just so professional. It’s really great, and I feel really comfortable now.
I’ve been singing at a lot of benefits for organizations such as Fight Against Aids. There are a couple of projects on the horizon, but we are kind of limbo about when we are shooting. I’m waiting to see what happens when we start working on the second season.
Who is someone you would like to work with in the future?
I’m getting to work with so many people that I’ve wanted to work with already on the show and we’ve also had some really awesome cameos, but I would love to work with Audra McDonald, I think she is amazing.
One thing you’d to accomplish before you die?
It sounds cliché, but honestly I really just want to put my hand in everything. I’m working television right now and I never thought I’d be doing this, which is really awesome. I’d love to perform on Broadway, that’s always been a goal of mine and that’s why I moved to New York. I’d love to work on an album, and do feature films. I’m 26, so I feel like I have lots of time to get things done.
If given a magic lamp, what would be your 3 wishes?
Oh this is a toughie! (LAUGHS) I’d probably wish for some sort of magic powers like flying, that’d be pretty cool! Or have x-ray vision or be able to read people’s minds. Another would be to have my own space ship to travel in outer space and see how things look out there. And the third wish would be something selfless, like wish to end world hunger or for World Peace.
My biggest weakness is..
Sweets and chocolates! On set, they’ll have Kraft services and they put out these desserts and I have the hardest time not pigging my face out! I can’t say no to chocolates, ice cream, or cupcakes. I love cupcakes!
One thing I can’t live without:
I’m obsessed with Sushi! It’s so weird, but I love it! I eat it like 4 times a week. I’m also kind of fashion obsessed. If I didn’t have the option of shopping all the time, that would suck too. I love to shop!
What’s an inspiring motto you like to live by?
There’s a really awesome quote by Nelson Mandela. When growing up in high school I was really insecure and apologetic and this teacher printed me this quote that I still have hanging in a frame today. It’s really long but the best part about it says ‘There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people don’t feel insecure around you, because when you shine your light, you give other people permission to do the same.” That just really spoke to me and made me break out of my shell. You can’t care what anyone else thinks; just shine your light as bright as possible because you’re going to inspire others to do the same.
Be sure to watch Jaime on NBC’s hit show SMASH Monday nights at 10/9 CT. You can follow Jaime on Twitter.