Parks & Recreation's Perd Casting Was Much Better Than You Realize

The reason Jay Jackson was cast as Perd Hapley in Parks & Recreation is much better than you realize. Jay Jackson portrayed the overly-literal news anchor Perd Hapley on Parks & Recreation for a total of 31 episodes across seven seasons. During that time, Perd Hapley headlined numerous local cable shows in Parks & Recreation's fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, including "Ya' Heard? With Perd," the politically-themed chat show "The Final Word With Perd," as well as "The Perdples Court," in which Perd Hapley acts like Judge Judy in his very own show. Clearly, Perd Hapley was one of Pawnee's biggest local stars, but the story of how Jay Jackson came to portray this laughably charming local news anchor is just as interesting as his character on Parks & Recreation.


One of the strongest aspects of Parks & Recreation is its ability to parody stereotypes without making these characters feel disingenuous. Perd Hapley is one of these characters, alongside fellow TV host Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins), and other characters like city councilman Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser). These characters populate Parks & Recreation's fictional town of Pawnee and make it feel realer in the process. There's one reason that Perd Hapley, in particular, felt so authentic as a news anchor throughout his time on Parks & Rec. Before he landed the role, Jackson spent 22 years as a local news reporter in Southern California, and later ran a business with which he helped aspiring news anchors and journalists put together demo reels (via NPR).

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That very business is what later helped Jay Jackson land the role of Perd on Parks & Recreation. One of his clients had made a demo reel for a network TV audition, Jackson was in it too, and the rest is history. His first acting role was a 25-second part as a local news reporter on Dexter. Surprisingly, when Jackson was first cast on Parks & Recreation, he was only supposed to appear for one episode. Luckily for the audience, however, a few higher-ups were on set that day and enjoyed Jackson's performance as Perd so much that they decided to flesh out the character more. "It was more of a happy accident than I intended," Jackson has said (via Mail Online UK). While Jackson's comedic timing and deadpan line delivery have certainly made his Parks & Recreation character a cult favorite, there's little doubt that his own experience as a news anchor gave the character a certain sense of authenticity as well.

Parks & Rec's Perd Plays A Newscaster In Other Roles

Perd Hapley on his news show in Parks and Recreation.

Though most people might recognize Jay Jackson for his recurring role in Parks & Recreation, Jackson has had acting roles in numerous other TV shows, including The Mentalist, Pretty Little Liars, eight appearances on the popular Arrowverse show Supergirl, and 27 appearances in Shonda Rhimes' hit series Scandal. He played a news anchor in all of these series, among others. Jackson has also portrayed a news reporter in a few big-budget movies, including Fast Five, and the 2012 action flick Battleship.

Some might say that Jay Jackson has been typecast since his first appearance as a newscaster on Dexter, but he doesn't see it that way. "Well, it's not typecast. It's all I know how to do," he stated candidly in an interview with NPR. His experience as an actual TV newscaster and field reporter undoubtedly helped him land these acting roles, but his charm, comedic chops, and line delivery certainly didn't hurt either. Parks & Recreation would have lost out on some of its most memorable comedic moments without Jay Jackson's portrayal of Perd Hapley.