Cleveland educator & writer Tonya M. Huffman interviews notable actor from “Nurses,” “Yes Day…”

 By Tonya M. Huffman

Actor ‘J.J.’ embraces good times & challenging ones

This person is male. He’s an actor. He is slender with a height over six feet.

He’s got an infectious smile, and with being very likeable around people, he knows how to create good times. And although he’s called by his first name, he’s also known as J.J. Overall, he’s Dyn-O-Mite! But he’s not wonderful actor/comedian Jimmie Walker, aka J.J. from television show Good Times. He is, however, actor Jordan Johnson-Hinds.

Jordan Johnson (J.J.) Hinds, the youngest of 4 children, was born on November 1, 1989, in Ontario, Canada. As his parents were separated, J.J. shared his time growing up between both his mother and father.

Although rewarding to see both of his parents, it wasn’t easy to bounce from household to household. These were challenging times.

“Back then, that’s just how life was. I lived with my dad during the week and went to my mom’s house on the weekends. Until you’re older and you begin to become more knowledgeable on childhood development, you don’t realize that having both parents in the home is so important. But as humans, we adapt, and I love the fact that my parents were always respectful towards one another. They definitely would have won the co-parenting award!” says J.J.

As a child, J.J. went to St. Sylvester Catholic Elementary School. When he became a teenager, he attended Francis Libermann Catholic High School, and at a young age, he got bitten by the acting bug. After seeing a friend of one of his siblings act in a production, J.J. knew he was up for the invigorating challenge.

“I saw a friend of my older brother in a movie at the city mall, at which point I said, ‘If he could do it, I could do it.’ Acting was always something that I loved. It was the look of it, the energy you feel in the cinema when people are drawn to the faces on the screen. The ability to create characters within worlds, and tell stories that uplift and inspire others was always something that appealed to me,” says J.J.

While a student at Libermann, J.J. took acting courses from a prestigious talent agency. When J.J. became a senior, he transferred to Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School where his good times rolled. He hosted talent shows, broadcasted morning announcements, and landed his beginning acting jobs.

J.J. remembers being young when his father first took him and one of his siblings to Los Angeles, California, and as J.J. soaked up the aura of lights, camera, and action; for him, it was a match made in heaven.

“My father brought my brother and myself to Los Angeles, Calif., when I was 7 years-old. And seeing this place that had palm trees, movie studios, superstars, and all the fun things constantly happening, I fell in love,” he says.

While in high school, wanting to broaden his horizons both physically and professionally, J.J. traveled back and forth to the United States and spent much time in Los Angeles to see live, firsthand, professionals act in real studios and work on real projects. At these studios, J.J. attended tapings of documentaries and comedy shows. Having family members with connections in the entertainment industry, J.J. received the privilege to meet actors and other entertainers. His time spent in Los Angeles as a child prepped him for Hollywood, an environment he still enjoys and can be starry-eyed in when meeting the famous, yet he is also a focused professional who approaches the famous and others affably. These were good times. Dyn-O-Mite!

“Being around that prepared me for Hollywood in a way, because I spent family Christmases and New Years with famous family members. It kind of normalized it. So now, I can still fan-out when I see a celeb I recognize, but it’s also something that doesn’t faze me. I just try to be me, no matter who I’m speaking to,” J.J. says.       

As inspired as J.J was to pursue a career in acting, he was also still a teenager who wanted to have fun, explore life, and grow up to find his way in a world where there is no shortage of grim, ubiquitous happenings. Just like any normal teenager, J.J. made errors, wanted to attend adolescent events, shied away from positive pep-talks, and wasn’t thrilled about his parents constantly monitoring his every move.

Although J.J. eventually saw the light, at first, he experienced some dark days. These were challenging times.

“My hero is my father. He raised stubborn kids in a society where it’s so easy to fall off the right path. Even though I made mistakes, he was and is always there for me to bring me back. I now realize every lecture, every party he never let me go to, ringing off my phone, and bothering the crap out of me was all for a reason. And for that, I genuinely thank you. I love you pops!” says J.J. 

In getting past his teenage dramas, J.J. eventually graduated from high school with a performing drama award. He advanced his acting training by attending George Brown College where he took a one year course in Performing Arts. Soon enough, his acting career blossomed. These were good times. Dyn-O-Mite! These good times afforded J.J. opportunities to act in both Canadian and American projects. J.J. began doing advertisements and guest starred on Canadian television sitcom Life with Derek and Canadian television comedy series The Jon Dore Television Show. He entered the limelight in 2009 with playing Remo Benzina in Season 2 of Canadian television crime drama series Flashpoint. In 2010, J.J. guest starred in Canadian television police drama Rookie Blue. In 2012, J.J. guest starred on Canadian television drama series The L.A. Complex. In 2012, J.J. played a rapper on Canadian American science fiction police procedural television series Beauty & the Beast. In 2014, J.J. guest starred in Season 5 of Canadian television drama series The Listener. In 2014, J.J. guest starred in Canadian television comedy drama miniseries The Best Laid Plans. During the same year, J.J. began playing the part of Ryan in Canadian drama web television series entitled Teenagers. Also beginning in 2014, J.J. guest starred in Canadian children’s television show Odd Squad. J.J. graced the film arena in 2014, playing in the remake of the 1987 American superhero film, RoboCop. In 2015, J.J. guest starred in Canadian television medical drama Saving Hope. In 2016, J.J. guest starred in Canadian television news satire The Beaverton. During the same year, J.J. began playing the reoccurring character Nate Desmond in Canadian television drama series Murdoch Mysteries. During the same year, J.J. began playing the role of Frisky in Canadian television sitcom LetterKenny. In 2017, J.J. guest starred on Season 2 of American supernatural television drama Shadowhunters. The same year, he began playing Stuart on American television crime drama Blindspot, and as Oliver Grady on American legal drama Suits. And in 2017, he again graced the film arena as Richard in Canadian romance comedy John Lives Again.

In 2020, J.J. was cast in both American science fiction television comedy-drama that airs on Amazon Prime Video entitled Upload, and in Canadian television drama Nurses. Upload takes place in the future year 2033 when humans can “upload” themselves into a virtual afterlife of their choosing. When computer programmer Nathan dies prematurely, he is uploaded, but soon finds himself under the thumb of his possessive, still-living girlfriend, and he bonds with a living female customer service representative who has her own struggles. J.J. plays the part of Jamie Arpaz, Nathan’s best friend and business partner. J.J., a creative, friendly, and witty person who has a gift of gab and is sensitive to the need of others, feels comfortable playing Jamie. “Jamie was super fun to play because his energy is so authentic. He has one singular vision, and he doesn’t steer away from that. It’s always a bit easier to step into the life of a character when you have similar interests. Ambition and change are two words that best describe Jamie Arpaz!” he says.

Nurses follows five young nurses who dedicate their lives to working on the front lines of a busy downtown hospital as they deal with high-stake situations that hospital life brings, and they still cope with handling their own personal life struggles. The shows current airing is more than apropos, being shown at a time when the world is in a pandemic. In real life, in the midst of a world-wide crisis, J.J. has had his fill of the pandemic. These were challenging times. J.J.’s family endured the loss of a family friend due to COVID-19. Having family who work in the medical profession, including a sister and a cousin who are nurses, some relatives who are doctors, and even friends who are veterinarians, from stories he’s heard, J.J. knows what medical professionals have gone through to care for sick patients. On Nurses, from what he does, J.J. knows first-hand the dedication and knowledge it takes to care for sick patients. J.J. plays the part of Keon Colby, a former college football star who’s currently a nurse whose heart of gold is as giant his 6’3” height. Although season 1 of Nurses was filmed pre-pandemic, the show still highlights the role medical professionals play in everyday life. “We’re still showing the crucial importance that frontline workers have even under normal circumstances and the empathy that nurses show,” said J.J. During the pandemic, although J.J. is honored to be working on Nurses, on a show where medical personnel are hailed as heroes, seeing the real life rough situations the pandemic has brought, coupled with filming the show and working hard to bring his character to life on television, is arduous. These were challenging times. J.J. understands his great responsibility to develop Keon.

“It was like an adrenaline rush. It was exhausting. It was liberating. But it was also a lot of pressure because you knew deep down that you had a responsibility to represent these frontline workers, these first responders, everybody who was an essential worker, even the people who were delivering the food with Uber and Door Dash – hats off to them, for throughout the whole quarantine, they were the ones working, so it was just a tremendous sense of responsibility that I had pepping and feeling throughout the whole project for sure,” says J.J.

Also to better help J.J. become Keon, he watched shows that many argue are the best medical shows –tops, and on behalf of another actor, he gave him props. J.J. took the necessary time to prepare for Keon.

“I did the prep. I looked at ER. I looked at Scrubs – my haircut in the first season of Nurses was kind of like Donald Faison’s from Scrubs. I wanted to pay homage in a settle way to the ones who did it before us,” he says.

When filming season 2 of Nurses, J.J. wanted to further develop Keon, committing to mastering the medicine portion of nursing and balancing caring for sick people. J.J. prepped Keon to master medicine and patients.

“Going into season 2, I wanted to do more work on the actual medicine, so that was a major committed obsession that I had. I had a lot of pages of back story and medical terms – that’s what a real nurse is. They’re not dealing with this one patient – they have eight other patients, depending on the day,” says J.J.

From working on Nurses for two seasons, J.J not only developed his character, but he has also bonded well with his cast mates. “With moving into season 2, we had this layer of trust and a year of experience together in the trenches and then, we brought it into season 2. Then during the quarantine, all of that connected and it was just a special thing that came out of it and we all felt it. From day one of production of season 2 to the end, it was like this electricity throughout the set.” These were good times. Dyn-O-Mite! 

As Nurses continues to fuse the cast towards future successful seasons, and as J.J continues to develop Keon, J.J. continues to develop J.J. Besides his vast acting experience in television and regular films, J.J. has also acted in the independent film Sun Gazer, an experience that enhanced him making and perfecting two independent films, Garbage Day and All I Want for Christmas. J.J.’s complete acting experiences has definitely helped segue him to even a better writer, another of his pastimes, and currently he and a friend are working on a screenplay entitled Mathematics, a project he foresees it doing well. J.J. assures that his screenplay serves the human interest, but is reticent to elaborate, and his silence only entices others to see it upon its upcoming debut.

Mathematics is a human story that is going to be revolutionary,” he says.

Time is on J.J.’s side, and will definitely reveal his journey not only as an actor, but also as a writer, a path that looks promising. 

J.J. continues to perfect his craft and build his impressive resume, currently starring opposite actress Jennifer Garner in the 2021 Netflix Family comedy film Yes Day. And J.J. will star in the upcoming American action-thriller film opposite Aaron Eckhart entitled Ambush. J.J. is likely to ambush the Hollywood scene one day with his acting and writing talents, a rising star with a bright future who is certainly under the microscope, continuously being watched and followed by fans and casting crew. Inadvertently, to prep J.J. for being under the microscope, maybe those times his parents monitored his every move came in handy after all. These are good times. Dyn-O-Mite!  

IMAGE CREDITS Jordan Johnson-Hinds Instagram page

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