Jai Rodriguez has been acting since he was 13, but became known to the main stream when he starred in “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” on the Bravo Network. “Queer Eye” was an iconic show that brought gay lifestyle/culture to the homes of the American audience. Since “Queer Eye” has ended, Jai has not stopped acting in plays, on Broadway and in episodic television.
Jai Rodriguez has been acting since he was 13, but became known to the main stream when he starred in “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” on the Bravo Network. “Queer Eye” was an iconic show that brought gay lifestyle/culture to the homes of the American audience. Since “Queer Eye” has ended, Jai has not stopped acting in plays, on Broadway and in episodic television. As he prepares for his roles in “Summer Shorts” and “Dirty Little Secrets” in South Florida it was a pleasure to sit down with Jai for an exclusive Hotspots interview.
At what age and how did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I got my first show at 13. It was a regional show and it was one of those defining moments of my life. It was very validating for me and made me realize this could be a career. I got lucky as I went from one role to another, never having to take odd jobs to pay my bills.
How did you get cast in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?”
I had a nightclub gig in New York City telling stories through music; kind of like a cabaret show, which became popular. The Queer Eye producers had set the cast, but one of the cast members wasn’t getting along and they were scouting for his replacement. They came to see my show, liked what they saw and asked me to audition the next day. I thought I did a really bad audition, but luckily I got a call one hour later and they offered me the role.
How was being on Broadway in the shows “Rent” and “Producers” different from being on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?”
“Rent” came after high school, so all my training from the performing high school came in to play. That was really easy for me. Queer Eye was really a new thing for me, so I had to adapt. Television takes you into people’s living room which makes them feel like they are your friends. You become public property which was new for me and I had to adjust to that.
In addition in 2005 you starred in your own stage show, “Jai Rodriguez: xPosed,” which told the story of your life. What was the process in writing this and how was it to perform it live over again and again?
It was very cathartic to get those thoughts out at the time, both writing and performing them. I was using contemporary music to tell my story. It’s kind of like what “Glee” is doing now.
Tell me about how you became involved with the “Summer Shorts” and specifically “Dirty Little Secrets?”
They were looking for a headliner to fit the style of South Florida and who had a cabaret background. They approached my agent and it was a really good fit. I am so excited about it.
“Dirty Little Secrets” is basically “xPposed,” with 7 years of life experience added to it. It’s my life set to pop music. My adolescence was basically experienced in my 20s. I was in “Rent” playing a drag queen having never kissed a guy in real life. It’s really an interesting life, so far, if I say so myself.
Tell me something people would be surprised to hear about you?
I had sex with women throughout my teens and early 20s and even had sex with a woman while I was on “Queer Eye.” That’s why an article ran when I was on the show that I was straight. But trust me I’m not!
What’s ahead for Jai?
I recently guest starred on “Harry’s Law” on NBC. I played a transgender woman who gets fired from her job and I got to sing. The role was awesome, and I am hoping to get more challenging roles like that.
I am currently the executive producer of a show on Logo called “Sex R.X.” My ex boyfriend is a sex therapist and together we developed this show. It’s about the clients and their journey. The show starts production June 15th and will air this fall.
Catch Jai Rodriguez live in “Summer Shorts” and “Dirty Little Secrets” at The Adrienne Arsht Center from now until June 26 and at the Broward Center for Performing Arts from June 30 through July 3. For more information visit ArshtCenter.org or call 305-949-6722 or visit BrowardCenter.org or call 954-462-0222.