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JJ Phillips in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo


An award-winning actor, and graduate of Northwestern University, JJ began his career at the age of 10 performing in Milwaukee, WI with First Stage Children's Theater. A native of Glendale, WI, his pursuit of theatre and film led him to Northwestern, studying under Daniel Cantor, and working with celebrated artists including Anna D. Shapiro, John Logan, Denis Zacek, Regina Taylor, Laura Schellhardt, David H. Bell, and many others. While at Northwestern, he also had the honor of spending the summer of 2011 studying at the School at Steppenwolf, under the tutelage of Amy Morton, Sheldon Patinkin, Kimberly Senior, K. Todd Freeman, Tim Hopper and Jonathon Berry. 

Following this summer, he was cast in Jonathon Berry's U.S. Premiere of Simon Stephen's PUNK ROCK with the Griffin Theatre Company in Chicago. The production received rave reviews, and took home the coveted Best Ensemble Award at the 2012 Non-Equity Jeff Awards. He has since appeared as Kev in Rajiv Joseph's BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO with Lookingglass Theatre, as a part of their 25th Anniversary Season, receiving an Equity Jeff Award nomination in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Play category for his performance; Carter in Neil LaBute's office comedy FAT PIG in the Steppenwolf Garage as a part of the Next Up series; and a return to Lookingglass, re-teaming with Heidi Stillman for the World Premiere of her new adaptation of THE NORTH CHINA LOVER, playing Paolo. 

At the start of 2014, he appeared on the Steppenwolf mainstage as Zander in Deborah Zoe Laufer's LEVELING UP, followed by a return to his native Milwaukee to appear as Superman in THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY with Milwaukee Rep. In addition to his work on the stage, he has been able to step in front of the camera, appearing in commercials and industrials, as well as the first season of CHICAGO FIRE, the award-winning short film GUIDANCE, and his first feature film, THRILL RIDE, which debuted in 2016 and went on to win the Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Feature Film Award at the Burbank International Film Festival.  He also has starring roles in two in-development projects, BLAME IT ON TOBY, a pilot for the Twilight Zone-esque ROUGE'S GALLERY, opposite Kevin J. O'Connor, and the femme fatale action-comedy Web Series KAPPA FORCE, as the maniacal arch-nemesis, The Douche.

In 2015, he appeared as the viking-hero Wilke Forsbrand in The House Theatre of Chicago's THE HAMMER TRINITY, the culmination of The House's 5 year project that brought an epic fantasy trilogy to the stage, which travelled to Miami's Adrienne-Arscht center after a sold out run.  Next up was another return to his native Milwaukee to strut in his underwear as the titular Spike in Christopher Durang's VANYA, and SONIA, and MASHA, and SPIKE, before making his way back to Lookingglass for two more productions: understudying the role of Ian in the US Premiere of Alexander Zeldin's BEYOND CARING, produced in association with David Schwimmer's Dark Harbor Stories, and as Tom Gradgrind in the remount of Heidi Stillman's adaptation of HARD TIMES by Charles Dickens, a show that 17 years prior helped announce Lookingglass as one of the preeminent theaters in all of Chicago.

In the Spring of 2018, he made the move to the West Coast, where he has spent the last year working on numerous short films, including the starring turn in Brandon Calvillo's crime-noir short WILD NOTHING opposite Hollywood legend Shane Black, now available on YouTube.  He re-teamed with Calvillo, starring in his meditation on fidelity, LIES WE TOLD, opposite fellow NU-alum and Broadway vet Anne Hollister, also available on YouTube.  In addition to his short film pursuits, both BLAME IT ON TOBY and KAPPA FORCE are reaching deals for wide release, with KAPPA FORCE set to premiere for free this fall on the streaming platform REVRY TV, and TOBY receiving its World Premiere screening as an official selection of SCREAMFEST, debuting at the historic Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.


He is represented by Stewart Talent in Chicago, is a proud member of Actor's Equity and SAG/AFTRA, and currently resides in Echo Park.

2010 - present
2010 - present
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