James Reynolds is familiar to many daytime television viewers in the United States. For more than 30 years, he has played on the popular daytime drama "Days of Our Lives" in the longest-running role for an African American actor on U.S. television. Reynolds believes in giving back to his California community.
On Tuesday nights, Reynolds coaches a women's basketball team. He says it is only one of the ways he stays active and involved in his community.
Five days a week, Reynolds plays TV character Abe Carver, mayor of a fictional American town called Salem.
With its iconic introduction featuring an hour glass, Reynolds says the show has built a fan base in the United States and several other countries, including South Africa and France.
“Our show is now 46 years old. And so over the years, most of the people alive in this country at some point or another have seen "Days of Our Lives" and the hourglass and heard Macdonald Carey's voice intone the opening of that show,” Reynolds said.
The show portrays the lives, loves and intrigues of glamorous people.
“I love it. It's great fun. And certainly, my character has had no shortage of problems and continues to have them. And that's what makes good television viewing,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was born in the Midwestern state of Kansas. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and then attended college, joking that he joined the theater department because a friend said it was a good place to meet girls. He later worked as an entertainment journalist and then got into acting.
Reynolds and his wife, actress Lissa Layng Reynolds, help to run a small theater called the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. The recent opening of a play there brought out local residents for performances by professional Hollywood actors.
Reynolds directed the play called "Holding On -- Letting Go." Lissa Layng Reynolds says her husband has vision and patience to tell a story like this -- a couple coming to terms with a husband's terminal illness.
“And it's really too bad he [i.e., James Reynolds] has this daytime actor job because, doggone it [LAUGHS] . . . I wish he could be a full-time director,” she said.
Veteran Hollywood actress Iona Morris, one of the stars of the play, says the story requires James Reynolds' sensitive touch.
“The word 'gentle' just keeps coming up. And he creates a very safe camaraderie feeling amongst all of us, so we're all family. It's really wonderful,” Morris said.
Reynolds is also active in charity work and does United Service Organizations, or USO, tours for U.S. troops overseas, having visited Kuwait and many other countries to connect with Americans who are serving their country.
“I'm a former Marine, so I am very appreciative of what the troops have to do when they're out and away from home. And some of the USO tours, particularly when we're touring in Europe, in Germany, in Spain, in Italy and other places, it was important to reach out to the families as well,” Reynolds said.
Longtime colleague Deidre Hall from "Days of Our Lives" says Reynolds is a joy to work with.
“He is as solid and caring and invested and giving as any human being that I know. And he's also shy about it,” Hall said.
James Reynolds is one of the lucky, gifted actors who have regular work in Hollywood because they have landed recurring roles on a long-running television series. And he says he wants to give something back.
“I think there’s a responsibility to do things that help the community at large. I just think you do. I think you have a responsibility to reach out and do whatever you can,” Reynolds said.
And Reynolds says he enjoys his busy schedule both on and off the set.