Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman discusses UnREAL’s third season and his new podcast

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 03: Actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman attends a press junket for 'UnREAL' on Day 3 of the SCAD aTVfest 2018 on February 3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2018 )
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 03: Actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman attends a press junket for 'UnREAL' on Day 3 of the SCAD aTVfest 2018 on February 3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2018 ) /

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman discusses UnREAL’s third season, what to expect from Jay, and his new podcast.

The third season of UnREAL is finally back after an 18-month break. The critically acclaimed show looks at the world of a reality TV dating show, Everlasting, including the dark side of what happens when the cameras aren’t running – and just how far producers will go for a hit TV show.

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman plays Jay, a gay producer who has been the moral compass on Everlasting through its first two seasons. Though he’s been frustrated with his lack of promotion, he tries to live his life from a place of good, which he finds increasingly hard to do as though around him are rewarded.

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UnREAL also has a female suitor for the first time, looking for love from 25 male contestants.

Bowyer-Chapman takes time to talk to Hidden Remote about the upcoming season, his new podcast and exactly what’s in store for Jay in season 3 of UnREAL, which premieres February 26 on Lifetime.

Hidden Remote: I got a chance to watch the premiere of UnREAL’ s Season 3. I’m immediately intrigued by what is going to happen. Do you think this season will be able to live up to the hype of the first two seasons?

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman: I think that the season is a standalone powerhouse on its own. I think we learned from going into the third season, the response that we got from Season 2 that we could never try to be what the show wasn’t. We can only go forward with what works for us, what makes sense story-wise. We explore the depths of the characters that we already have while bringing interesting storylines, and intertwining our lives with the introduction of the new contestants.

I think that the show is certainly going back to its feminist’s roots that really struck a chord in Season1. I think we are going back to our roots, and hopefully people will love Season 3 as much as they loved the first two seasons. The thing about Season 3 is that it’s strong, but you can jump on board without seeing the other episodes and enjoy it as much as the rabid fans.

HR: With an ever-changing cast on UnREAL, you’re now three seasons in, how does bringing in a new cast change the dynamic on the set when from season-to-season?

JBC: Our first couple of days back on set very much feels like the first day of school whether its myself, Shiri, Constance and Craig. We’re the junior, sophomores and seniors, welcoming a new class of characters. The casting directors, producers, writers and showrunners have a really extraordinary ability to not only bring on phenomenal actors who are brilliant in their roles, they also really read the energy of the person who is playing the role. They really consciously cast people they know energetically are going to fit in very well with the rest of us.

HR: What can fans expect from Season 3?

JBC: They can expect 25 sexy, new suitors, some eye candy for season 3. I think they can expect the soapy drama that we know and love from the first two seasons as well as some submersive and nuanced storytelling. Really dive into what the reality of what it is to be a strong successful, intelligent female looking for love in 2018 and the world of social media, Tinder and online dating, and superficiality, and trying to find the depths of authentic love in the world of superficiality.

MALIBU, CA – JUNE 04: (L-R) Actors Shiri Appleby, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Constance Zimmer and Genevieve Buechner attend Lifetime’s UnREAL Cast and Producers Kickoff Summer Group Date at Malibu Wines Safari on June 4, 2017 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Lifetime)
MALIBU, CA – JUNE 04: (L-R) Actors Shiri Appleby, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Constance Zimmer and Genevieve Buechner attend Lifetime’s UnREAL Cast and Producers Kickoff Summer Group Date at Malibu Wines Safari on June 4, 2017 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Lifetime) /

HR: Watching the first episode was kind of sad, with Serana crying in the bathroom. For some people, it might strike a nerve a little bit.

JBC: The writers really have their finger on the pulse of what is going on in our culture, in the world of social media and online dating. It’s a story that hasn’t been explored in the depths that we go on in television. I think people are really going to relate to it whether they are male or female, or have love or looking for it. It’s the universal story.

HR: When it comes to your character, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen as far as growth from the first season of UnREAL until now?

JBC: I guess I feel with Jay every time he succeeds, he gets knocked back down again and again. I feel as the seasons go on, as tenacious he is as driven as he is, he learns to be his own hero. Coming from Season 2, he really did have a win. He brought Darius and Ruby to the finish line in the season finale of Everlasting. I think that if he was Rachel and had done that that, he could be cruising into Season 3 with a shiny new promotion, have entire the network, studio and Quinn backing him.

But for Jay he doesn’t have a lot of allies on the set of Everlasting. He recognizes just because he had success in one season, he is really starting from scratch coming into the next season.

I think we just have a story of someone who is fighting for their soul every day on this set of Everlasting, in this world of lies and manipulation. He also is fighting for his own professional success.

HR: What can we expect from Jay from this season on UnREAL?

JBC: We get to go home with Jay and explore who he is outside of the walls of Everlasting, which I feel like playing an open queer character on television. It is really important that we get to see different sides of who he is, flesh him out to fully three-dimensional human being.

There are 25 male contestants and Jay is a gay producer. So, your guess is as good as mine of what happens from there. The possibilities are endless.

We get to see this season with Jay that he sees the people around him succeeding that he sees bad behavior is rewarded in this world of Everlasting. And as much as in his ideal ways would love to remain the moral compass of the show, he needs to play the game in a really honest and authentic way – it only gets him so far. He is really tempted to step over the dark side and when he does, he finds success. He may continue on that path.

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HR: What did you have to do, in your mindset, to turn that switch and test out the waters?

JBC: Jay is similar to me in that sense. I really try to navigate my life from a heart-centered place. I really try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I try to be patient when I can. I try to not compromise my integrity in any given situation. We are all only human. I, like Jay, can only be pushed so far.

When you are pushed into a corner where we have no other options, sometimes you have to play the game a little bit dirtier. So it really was just paying attention who Jay was as human being and seeing the inequality and injustice that existed around him. And no matter how he plays the game from a heart-centered placed, he still continues to be defeated time and time again from the darkness that the rest of the producers exhibit.

I think we could all only be pushed so far as human beings. I think that Jay is a perfect example of that.

HR: How important is the character of Jay and the representation it gives for you and other gay actors in Hollywood?

JBC: I am absolutely in love with Jay. I am tremendously blessed to play this openly queer character as a series regular on a hit television series. However, he is just one person and I am just one person. He is just one character on one television show and I don’t want to put all the pressure in the world on myself or on Jay to represent for an entire community of marginalized human beings whether that’s people that walk in the LGBTQ or people of color. He can only represent who he is and what he represents.

I think it’s incredibly important that we have a character like Jay on television and I feel incredibly blessed to play him but we need to start expanding our fictional universe in regards to writing far more characters like Jay so that he doesn’t have to be the one we look to or other queer characters on television don’t have to be the one example that we have all the pressure in the world represent for entire community of people.

HR: You have a new podcast. Tell me a little bit about it.

JBC: My podcast is launching the same day as the Season 3 premiere of Everlasting on Feb. 26. It’s called JBC Presents Conversation with Others. I am producing it with the producers of RuPaul’s podcast. That’s really where it extends from.

I went on an episode of RuPaul’s podcast and Michelle Visage about a year and a half ago. Their producers asked me when we wrapped the episode if I ever wanted to produce a project I have carte blanche, come in and start any type of show I like. I thought about it and paid attention to what kind of shows that I like to listen and the conversations that I like to have.

The type of conversations that I have had and the ones that have had the most impact in my professional, personal and spiritual life have been deep, honest conversations with close friends. This show is really centered around that.

I am very blessed to have a really wonderful community of people around me of influential, inspirational public figures who fall under the umbrella of otherness: actors, singers, writers, dancers, producers who are part of the LGBTQ community or people of color or badass lady bosses. I get to have conversations with them. Each episode is like a one-hour audible memoir of who this person is, where they began, their journey of how they arrived to where they are now against all odds.

The show is funny, irreverent, soulful, and inspiring. I love it. I have had so much fun recording the first season of the show.

HR: How many episodes are in the first season?

JBC: We have recorded 10 so far but we are going for 22 in total.

HR: Who are some of the guests that you have had on so far?

JBC: I am not going to give them all away but we have everyone from Michelle Visage and Aubrey Plaza to Janet Mock and Jussie Smollett.

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HR: Was it easy to do a podcast? What is like transitioning to doing a podcast?

JBC: I don’t want to say it was easy, because that would be discrediting all the people around who are professional reporters and journalists and podcasters like Janet Mock or RuPaul. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but I can feel comfortable in it. It felt like a natural transition for me from television and film. I feel like I love having the opportunity to show off my personality, my own personal perspectives of life and the world and to share my perspectives with the world – it felt right.

The blessing of having such great friends around me who were willing to be part of the show, it was very natural conversations. It felt good, it felt right.

I wouldn’t say it was easy, but the right next step for me.

HR: Is there anything about UnREAL you want to mention to get everyone excited for Season 3?

JBC: Tune in for the eye candy, you won’t be disappointed.

Watch UnREAL on Lifetime Mondays at 10/9c.