With his down-to-earth demeanor and boy-next-door charm, actor Jerry Ferrara is one of those talents whom audiences are drawn to. Recognized for his breakout role as “Turtle” on eight seasons of the popular HBO drama “Entourage,” the actor has proved he’s more than just Vincent Chase’s right-hand man.
A Career Is Born
A Brooklyn boy, born and raised, Ferrara’s interest in movies and TV laid the groundwork for the acting career that was destined to be his future. “I used to get out the TV Guide and coordinate the schedule of what I was going to record; I had a system down,” he says.
It wasn’t until college that he fell in love with acting. “I was failing and needed a passing grade to show my mother,” says Ferrara. Having heard about an acting class that gave out an A just for attending, Ferrara signed up and was hooked, despite the fact that the guaranteed grade turned out to be untrue. He continued to study his craft and began acting in plays while still enrolled at the College of Staten Island. “I found my career there although I didn’t do it the traditional way,” says Ferrara.
In 2000, he made the move from New York City to the West Coast at just 20 years old. “I was terrified when I left; I hadn’t been anywhere else besides Florida and Pennsylvania,” he says.
It didn’t take long for his career to take off, with his first appearance on an episode of “King of Queens,” and from there guest-starring in roles in various other projects. It wasn’t until he booked “Entourage” that he’d find himself a part of a production that would elevate his career.
“That first season was fun because none of us knew what lie ahead,” says Ferrara. “It wasn’t until around the third season that we realized we had something that could last a long time.”
In looking back on the show that made him a household name, the actor says it not only changed both his and his family’s life in a positive way; it was also his version of college. “I learned about my craft, about my business, about myself, and most importantly I made lifelong friends who will always have a place in my heart.”
A New Kind of Role
These days, Ferrara has traded in his Air Jordans, jerseys, and Yankees cap (albeit on a temporary basis) for what he describes as his first “adult role” on “Power,” the Starz drama that has captivated its audience and has fans and social media buzzing.
As attorney Joseph Procter, a young, hungry, criminal defense attorney, Ferrara describes his character as driven but also a bit mysterious. “He grew up in a place where he’s friends with the good and the bad guys–he doesn’t separate them; in his mind they’re just people who all have flaws,” says Ferrara. For fans at home, the jury’s still out on which side of the law he’s truly on. “He’s going to toe a fine line between lawyer and criminal,” he says.
Ferrara is also enjoying the opportunity to portray a character that other people come to for help and advice in the most extreme of circumstances, as opposed to being the guy who usually seeks help from someone else. “I’ve gotten to play some cool characters and I’ve had an interesting and fun career so far,” he says.
He’s also thankful to creator and executive producer Courtney Kemp for giving him the opportunity to step into a role that she created specifically for him. “It’s not often that I get a straight offer for things—I’m still very much an actor who has to sing for his supper, like most actors out there,” he says. “In a sense I felt respected because of it,” he says. “Not that I have ever felt disrespected but I’ve been doing this a long time and to hear someone say, ‘I wrote this for you’ was just an amazing feeling.”
Since season three of “Power” wrapped up this past fall, viewers will have to wait until next year to learn the fate of their favorite characters. While he won’t give away any spoilers, Ferrara says season four is going to be intense. “Take this for what the words mean—when I say the stakes are high for everyone, everyone is playing for keeps, for life or death.”
This past fall, he also starred in the film “Sully,” based on airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing in the Hudson River and its aftermath.
In the film, Ferrara plays a scuba cop, a NYPD officer who is trained in water rescue. Working with legendary director Clint Eastwood was a “bucket list” moment, the actor says.
Another highlight was working with Tom Hanks, who portrayed Sully. “He’s the definition of a movie star,” says the actor.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
In addition to his projects on-screen, Ferrara and his actress fiancé, Breanne Racano, produce the podcast “Bad 4 Business.” The title, he says, was born out of their numerous conversations about starting a business together. “You hear the advice — don’t go into business with family and friends,” says the actor. “And so we’ve made it the running joke over the 100 episodes we’ve done so far.”
Almost two years later, Ferrara is enjoying being on the other side of the microphone. “It’s a cool feeling,” he says. “It makes me strive to ask questions that get the guests fired up to talk and be candid.”
Ferrara and his fiancé have proven that it’s not “Bad 4 Business” to work together thanks to some strict rules about where the podcast falls on the list of priorities in their relationship. They’ve managed to keep things on the lighter side, and while they do talk about their relationship, he says you’ll never hear them air their dirty laundry.
What you will hear is Ferrara interviewing everyone from sports athletes (he’s a huge sports fan) like Rashad Jennings from the New York Giants and Wesley Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks, to his “Entourage” family, his mom, who he says is one of the “funniest people I know” and even his nephew. He’s also a gamer and occasionally will talk to game developers about the latest news and developments in the world of video games.
While there are guests like actor and comedian Kevin Hart, and Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks [his dream guest] that he’d love to have on the podcast, Ferrara says he’s just not that great at asking. “I hate to feel like I’m bothering people so I haven’t stretched out the guest list,” he says. “I’m bad at asking for favors but I have to get better at it for my audience’s sake.”
In defining what the show means to him, Ferrara says it’s like a personal journal, enabling him to share with an audience some of the people who entertain him every single day. “It’s just been great,” he says. For the guy who grew up recording his favorite shows, this has been his first foray into technology. “It shows that you can do anything, anytime, from anywhere.”
And while he’s busy with a multitude of roles, he’s also gearing up to pitch a half-hour comedy he’s been working on. “It’s something I’ve been developing for a while and it has evolved into a pretty cool project,” says Ferrara. “I always have things I’m working on but as I get older I’ve learned to focus on one or two at a time, not 10 like I used to.”
Social media info:
IG: Jerry Ferrara
Facebook: Jerry Ferrara
Contributed by By Alexandra Anastasio
Photo Credit Benjo Arwas