J.R. was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He moved to Chicago one week after finishing undergrad to attend the School at Steppenwolf. The first professional production he was cast in was Incident at Vichy at Steep. Following his performances at Steep in Pleasanton and The Night Heron (in which he introduced full-frontal nudity to the Steep stage), he was fortunate enough to be made a company member. Favorite Steep performances include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Breathing Corpses, In Arabia We'd All be Kings (which Steep won the Jeff Award for Best Ensemble), The Hollow Lands, and Harper Regan.
Other Chicago theatre acting credits include Writers' Theatre, Lookingglass, the Griffin, Redmoon, and Pine Box. Regionally, he has acted with the Williamstown Theatre Festival. J.R. took a hiatus from acting in the fall of 2010 to receive his MFA in Playwriting at UCLA. He graduated from UCLA in 2013 and has been the recipient of the Marianne Murphy Fellowship, the Army Archerd Fellowship, the Fred Thorp Fellowship, the Lucille Karayan scholarship, and he has been a nominee for the Humanitas Award in Comedy, the Samuel Goldwyn Award, and his one-act play, Kathleen Turner's Ear, was a 2012 finalist in the Samuel French Short Play Festival until Hurricane Sandy shut the whole thing down. He hopes his future plays won't be faced with such distractions.
He's currently a writer on Alan Ball’s HBO series Here & Now.