I was in Highschool when I first flirted with the idea of being an actor. Growing up, there weren’t many young Black boys who were on my TV screen, but still, I felt something in my gut that told me that I could act. My gut was wrong. It took wasting my mother’s money for acting lessons, a failed skit where I played the character Ross from the hit show Friends, and coming to terms with my deathly stage fright, a feeling that I didn’t acknowledge until I ran out of my college theater class when all eyes were on me; for me to understand that acting was not my ministry. I often look back and wonder, what If I didn’t give up so early on that dream? What if I knew then, how capable I was to achieve that dream? For Hollywood’s rising star, Jeremy Tardy, he knew he was capable. He knew that he could achieve his acting dreams, and it all started at a young age. It began with his community.
Many would assume that growing up in one of the most segregated cities in America, Milwaukee, WI, a young Black boy would not be destined to take Hollywood by storm but Jeremy Tardy is doing just that. Before his TV credits consisted of Netflix’s Dear White People and HBO’s Ballers, Tardy was a 12-year-old boy with a dream. That dream began to take shape when Jeremy auditioned for a play at First Stage Theater Academy. It was during that time that his work ethic developed. “I got to work with a lot of seasoned actors at a young age, and I considered that my real training,” Tardy explained about his experience. Jeremy not only attributes being enrolled in an art school at the age of five, and working with First Stage to his growing success, but also having individuals in his community who made him believe that he could do what he put his mind to, and he could do it all at a “high capacity.”
With his strong faith in God, the Juilliard alum has his biggest break yet, a starring role in Paramount network’s newest show, 68 Whiskey. “This is a dream role. It is authentic and entertaining. It challenges me physically and mentally,” Jeremy shares, not hiding his excitement. The comedic drama series from Academy Award-winner Ron Howard follows a multicultural mix of men and women deployed as Army medics to an operating base in Afghanistan nicknamed “The Orphanage.” Jeremy plays Mekhi Davis, a clever and mischievous staff sergeant. In the show, Davis is always looking for a way to get ahead but would never leave anyone behind. 68 Whiskey premiered on Jan 15th, bringing in 2 million viewers. A high debut for the Paramount network.
“Helping to carry a show is hard work,” Jeremy says. But putting in years of hard work has led Jeremy to this moment. A moment where he has a show on a growing network, working with two of Hollywood’s biggest producers, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and a billboard in Times Square. In regards to navigating Hollywood, Tardy says, “There is power in believing in yourself.” As his credits are growing, so is the pressure to deliver, all while keeping his mental health in check. “Mental health is important to me as a man, and especially as a Black man,” Tardy says.“I laugh a lot, I pray, I listen to music, I exercise…and I pray some more.” Even with his methods of keeping his mind right, Jeremy has an understanding of Hollywood that helps him and his mental health, “I don’t care about the fame, I want people to see the work.” And with that mindset, that’s why not one rejection has stopped him from living out his dreams.
With plans to write, produce and see the world, Jeremy’s career is the life most actors dream of. The little Black boy from Milwaukee, with big dreams, only needed to know that he could, and in this moment, he is doing what he set out to do. Jeremy is doing what many in his community believed that he could do.
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