Burgess Jenkins: Famous Winston-Salemites

Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.

Burgess Jenkins was born in 1973 and raised in Winston-Salem, and has gone on to star in movies like Remember the Titans (2000) with Denzel Washington, The Reaping (2007) as Hillary Swank’s husband, and as John Wesley in Wesley (2009). He has also starred in television shows like One Tree Hill (2008-09), Nashville (2012), and a long stint on The Young and the Restless (2014-16). Click here for full filmography


 From the time he was twelve, Jenkins knew that he loved movies and storytelling. He went to Summit and then Reynolds High School in Winston, and then studied psychology at Lenoir-Rhyne. “At the time I had no idea how much it would influence my work as an actor,” said Jenkins. “Now I rely on my psychology major heavily to break down characters and find what motivates them.”

Jenkins always thought he had an interest in acting, but he didn’t really start studying it until his mid-twenties. Jenkins studied at the famed Playhouse West in Los Angeles for four years. “My very first acting job was for a regional Belk commercial,” said Jenkins. “I was sporting some pretty fancy Dockers and bowling with some fake friends. At the time I didn’t think it could get much better than that.”

Since 2000, Jenkins has starred in over thirty television shows and movies. Almost ten years ago, Burgess founded and opened the Actors Group on Burke Street, which is a serious training studio designed to prepare students for the rigors of the film industry. “I can’t believe it’s been that long. It has been a blast and we are so proud of all the hard work and talented students who’ve gone on to book hundreds of roles on some fantastic projects. James Freetly, who was a former student and is now an instructor, plays an integral part. He’s an outstanding teacher.” The Actors Group is currently on Reynolda Road.  Click here for Actors Group website

Jenkins is married to Ashlee Payne Jenkins, who he describes as “an immensely talented actress.” They have a little girl named Harper, who is nine years old.


Questions about Winston-Salem:

When you are away from Winston-Salem, what are some of the things you miss the most?
Where to begin! I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of places across the country, whether it was for years in some cases like Los Angeles or for months in others as it is with filming, but no place compares to Winston. I love to pack up my dog and take a slow walk around Old Salem on a random afternoon or get a cup of coffee from the Krankies airstream with my wife and spend the morning at Reynolda Gardens or Graylyn. Also, We’ve become huge fans of all things downtown, notably Camino Bakery, Local 27101, and the Spring House. But I think what stands out to me most is the intangible charm that Winston-Salem has. People who live here appreciate the history and the community feel of it. Though a lot has changed since I was a kid, those things have remained the same and hopefully always will.


Which Winston-Salem neighborhoods have you lived in?
After college, I lived in an apartment in the Peace Haven area with a buddy from high school. That was cool, but living on a 4th floor walk-up taught me that an elevator is invaluable. When I saved up enough money, I bought my first house near the Wake Forest neighborhoods. Awesome little bungalow… I have fond memories of that place. But the Buena Vista area has always been my favorite. All the streets and houses are different and they have so much character. Feels like stepping back in time a bit.

What Winston-Salem schools did you go to? Who were some of your favorite teachers at each school?
I went to St. Paul’s preschool where I remember singing every morning, “everyday at St. Paul’s is better than the day before.” I guess it must’ve been true because we sent our daughter there. Afterword, I attended Summit school and then Reynolds High School. I have a lot of favorites so it’s hard to say, but second grade Mrs. May, fourth-grade Tom Shaver, sixth-grade Mr. Wood and 10th grade Mrs. Turner. I give a lot of credit to Mr. Wood, who somehow made me appreciate science, and to Mrs. Turner, who helped instill a love of literature.

What is one retail store you wish that came to Winston that we don’t currently have? What about a restaurant that we don’t have?
I’m not a huge shopper but I suppose instead of any one shop it would be nice if we had an open air shopping area; I became pretty fond of the Grove in Los Angeles (however, speaking on behalf of my wife I should say Nordstrom).
Winston has so many fantastic restaurants I don’t feel that we are  lacking in that department. I would put our best restaurants on par with just about anywhere.

What are your top three favorite Winston-Salem restaurants?
It’s not a fair question because I could probably name thirty, so here are a few:
“Ryan’s” because it is a Winston-Salem icon that never gets old.
“Mary’s of Course,” because I love eating great breakfast any time of day and you have to love Mary (the owner).
And even though I’ve mentioned “Local 27101” already, I’ll include them here because my wife and I have probably eaten there a dozen times in the last three weeks.


Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?
Thruway. Spent many a day there as a kid…though I’ve got some fond memories of my daughter riding the carousel at the mall.

If you were on a stranded island and could just have one breakfast for the rest of your life, which would you choose: Moravian sugar cake, a Bojangles biscuit, or a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
Can I do Moravian sugar cake and a half dozen hot glazed? I’m not sure I’d be a healthy islander, but I guarantee I’d be happy.


What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
Holden hands-down. It has a little bit of everything.

Where is your favorite place in the mountains of North Carolina?
Blowing Rock. Started riding my motorcycle there when I was a sophomore in college, and since those days in the 1990’s, not a year has gone by that I haven’t been. It’s one of my favorite places on Earth.

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