Jayma Mays was born in Bristol, Tennessee, but grew up in Grundy, Virginia. She graduated from Radford University with a degree in performing arts. She made her on-screen debut in 2004, through a guest role in the comedy series Joey. The following year, she made her film debut opposite Rachel McAdams in the thriller Red Eye.
Mays is best known for her work on television. She held recurring roles in Ugly Betty (where she played jewelry designer Charlie) and more notably on Heroes, as Charlie Andrews, the love interest of Masi Oka's Hiro Nakamura. In between, she also appeared in films such as Epic Movie and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
In 2009 Mays joined the cast of the Fox series Glee, appearing as germophobic guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury. The success of the series led to a role in the live action/animated film The Smurfs, opposite Neil Patrick Harris.
- Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, 2010 (for Glee)
- Red Eye (2005)
- Blind Dating (2006)
- Flags of our Fathers (2006)
- Smiley Face (2007)
- Epic Movie (2007)
- Night Hikers (2008)
- Bar Starz (2008)
- Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control (2008)
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
- The Smurfs (2011)
- Entourage (recurring, 2005-2006)
- Heroes (recurring, 2006-2009)
- Ugly Betty (recurring, 2007-2008)
- Glee (regular, 2009-present)