Station 19’s Jay Hayden Reveals It Was ‘Hard’ For His Father to Watch Him Kiss Another Man on TV: ‘I Felt Weird’
As the heart of Station 19, Travis Montgomery has had his fair share of romances and heartbreaks. While the actor who plays him, Jay Hayden, isn’t gay in real life, the Station 19 star has represented Travis and the LGBTQ+ community well from the start.
Station 19 is ABC’s drama following the personal and professional lives of firefighters and other emergency workers at the Seattle Fire Department’s fictional Station 19 in Seattle, Washington. Hayden plays Travis Montgomery, an openly gay firefighter at Station 19 and widower who lost his husband, Michael Williams, in a fire. The series — which premiered in 2018 and was created by Shonda Rhimes— is a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy set in the same city.
Hayden revealed in an interview with Tell Tales TV in 2018 that he had auditioned for several Rhimes shows, including Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, before he was cast in Station 19. “Getting in front of [casting director] Linda Lowy is not easy. She is in that upper echelon of casting directors,” Hayden said. “So I started auditioning for her and I thought she hated me, to be honest because she is really studying you. She’s nice… ish, but she’s directing you and workshopping these moments with you, and giving you direction and watching you do it. And I would audition for Grey’s Anatomy, and then Scandal, and then How to Get Away with Murder, or whatever, and I thought she hated me because I would do it and she would give me an adjustment, I would do it and she would be like, ‘Thanks. Thanks, Jay.’ And I would never hear anything.”
Is Jay Hayden gay in real life from Station 19?
Is Jay Hayden gay in real life from Station 19? The answer seems to be no. Hayden — who has played Travis Montgomery since Season 1 of Station 19 — seemed to confirm he was straight in an interview with Hidden Remote in 2018, in which he talked about what it was like to play a queer character while married to a woman. “I love the challenge of playing any character who’s not exactly who I am,” he said. “It’s a thrill for me to find who that person is, what makes them tick, and their thoughts and feelings and all that stuff. As an actor, I love it.”
Hayden also told Hidden Remote that he was concerned what his father would think about him playing a gay character on television. “Truthfully, I think it was probably a little hard for my father. He’s from Vermont. He’s this old guy that lives at the side of a mountain and is military,” he said. “I mean, he went to Vietnam. So when his actor son calls him from L.A. to say ‘Dad, I’m playing a gay firefighter on a Shonda Rhimes show,’ he’s just the best guy in the world and is like ‘Oh, congratulations’ but I don’t really know what’s going on in his head.”
He continued, “The last episode played and I was wondering what kind of phone call I’d get. He called and left a really nice message. I would have loved to have been a fly in the room watching him watch the episode, but he was really sweet. He was like, ‘I’m really proud of you. You really are a great actor. I’m really watching this Travis guy and I felt a little weird watching you kiss another guy but I think you’re doing a great job.’ And that’s about as close to ‘I’m proud of you’ as I’m going to get from my dad. We’re changing the world one kiss at a time.” Hayden also told Hidden Remote that he wanted to see more queer characters on television. “We need more! So the more that I can continue the conversation and extend that and make it more of just the norm, I’m happy to do it. I’m excited to represent them in any fashion that they’ll have me,” he said.
Hayden also told the site that Travis’ sexuality didn’t change how he played or interpreted his character. “The thing is I don’t really know how to play straight or play gay. I only know how to play somebody who has… I know what it’s like to feel overprotective and what it’s like to worry about someone’s health and wanna make them laugh and be sad,” he said. “I know how to do that stuff, so when I went into read for the character I just played what was on the page that I know.”
He continued, “I think the actual audition scene was the scene in the ambulance with Ben Warren when he says ‘you could have killed the captain…’ And I know those emotions. It was up to [creator] Stacey [Mckee], Tara and Shonda to decide if my essence was right for who they were kind of thinking of for Travis. That wasn’t my job. My job was to play a human who has those feelings. Luckily we were the perfect fit.”
Hayden also revealed a conversation he had with a real firefighter who had seen other gay firefighters be discriminated against. “Stacy and I definitely agreed on one thing that regardless of his sexual orientation or anything else about him, he was going to be strong and brave and care about his team and do anything for them,” he said. “From that base, I felt really comfortable the way she was going to write him. She has done an excellent job.”
Hayden continued, “I had a firefighter come up to me. He’d been a New York firefighter for 25 years and he said that back in the ’70s and ’80s: ‘Some of the best guys back in my day were gay and they were just as strong and just as tough and just as heroic. There was no difference between them and it’s sad because they couldn’t come out and couldn’t feel comfortable letting the other guys know they were gay. Then they’d be labeled as something different. They were labeled as a sissy. Not a strong or heroic. Suddenly everything changed because of their sexual orientation, but they could do everything any other firefighter did and there was absolutely no difference. And I really appreciate the way you’re playing the character.’ That meant a lot when that guy said that to me.”
Hayden was married to actress Nikki Danielle Moore from 2001 to 2020, according to court documents obtained by Us Weekly, which reported that Moore filed for divorce on February 13, 2020. She cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce. The couple share two children: daughter Amelia and son Hasey.
According to Us Weekly‘s court documents, Moore also requested spousal support from Hayden and asked the judge to terminate the court’s ability to award support to her ex-husband. She also requested that Hayden pay her attorney fees. Hayden, in response, filed a response to Moore’s divorce filing and listed the date of their separation as January 4, 2020. He also asked for joint legal and physical custody of their children and requested that the separate property and community property of their assets and debts be determined at the time of their trial or settlement.
Before their divorce, Moore made a guest appearance on Station 19 in 2018 in Season 1, Episode 7 “Let It Burn.” Moore hinted at the divorce that month when she posted an Instagram announcing that she would go by the name “Nikki Marie Bloss” in honor of her late grandmother. “Moving into this new chapter of my life I am honored to take the name of one of my inspirations. My grandma … AKA my Nanny,” she wrote captioned the post, announcing that she had dropped Hayden as her last name. “Her name is Ione Bloss. She was an orphan, a feminist and a leader in her time here on earth. She overcame heartbreaking trauma in her life and her accomplishments in the feminist movement keep me going and inspire me everyday.” She continued, “I am blessed to have her as an angel. Nanny, I promise, Nikki Marie Bloss will continue to move forward, heal and help women in your name. I love you.”
Station 19 airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
For more on Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 universe, check out our photo gallery on the Grey’s Anatomy cast’s real-life relationships.