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Why Jake Crawford In Fire Country Looks So Familiar

CBS's hit "Fire Country" is yet more proof that TV viewers cannot seem to get enough of the action and drama that comes from fighting fires. But while it is far from the only show to follow these first responders, "Fire Country" stands apart for setting its primary action not in the cities but in rural California, out among the forests and landscapes that, as we have all unfortunately seen borne out over the past several years, are increasingly at risk for becoming tinder every wildfire season.

"Fire Country" has done well enough to merit a second season, and while there are plenty of roles we recognize leading man Bode Donovan (Max Thieriot) from, he is far from the only compelling character or recognizable face driving along its fiery plot. Bode is a convict, part of the California Conservation Camp Program, seeking not only to shorten his prison sentence but also for a bit of redemption. Accompanying him is Jake Crawford, played by Jordan Calloway, who, unlike Bode, is a professional firefighter. Calloway also has quite the acting resume under his belt. 

Jordan Calloway played Zach on Unfabulous

Jordan Calloway started acting very young, appearing in minor TV roles on shows like "The District" and "George Lopez." However, his first significant television role was on the teen sitcom "Unfabulous." Airing on Nickelodeon from 2004 to 2007, "Unfabulous" also provided a launchpad for the career of a young Emma Roberts, who played 13-year-old Addie Singer, a middle-school student with a penchant for writing songs about her seemingly ordinary life. Calloway, who was around middle school age at the time, played Zach Carter-Schwartz, Addie's sandal-wearing, basketball-playing, environmentalist best friend. 

Running for three seasons, Calloway co-starred in all of them. Though most of his screen time was dedicated to supporting Addie's various antics, Zach occasionally got his own plotlines. Several episodes toward the series' end focused on the feelings Zach was developing for Addie's other best friend, the fashion-obsessed Geena Fabiano (Malese Jow). The show's final episodes saw the two young teens admitting their feeling for each other.

He played Chuck Clayton in Riverdale

Though most of the early screen credits of the young Jordan Calloway were in the comedy vein, it didn't take long for him to start gaining experience in drama too. He appeared briefly in seven episodes spanning Seasons 11 and 12 of "E.R." and was cast in bit parts and brief appearances on such TV shows as "Switched at Birth" and "Gang Related." He was also cast in a leading role in the second season of Hulu's high school zombie show "Freakish."

In 2017, Calloway was cast in "Riverdale," the CW's dark reimagining of the beloved "Archie" comics that, despite being absolutely bonkers, managed to work and gain a loyal cult following among viewers. Calloway was cast as Chuck Clayton; like virtually all other characters in "Riverdale," Calloway's Chuck was based on a comic book counterpart. But while the Chuck Clayton of "Archie" was a friendly and good-natured varsity football player, the Chuck of "Riverdale" was your stereotypical entitled, mean-spirited, misogynistic jock, serving as a primary antagonist during the show's first season. In retribution for the nasty rumors he spreads about Veronica (Camila Mendes), she and Betty (Lili Reinhart) almost boil Chuck alive. After being suspended from the football team, he initially holds a grudge against Veronica and Betty, though as the series progresses, he shows signs of growth and humility.

He played Painkiller in Black Lightning

Comic books and villainy must suit Jordan Calloway because, in 2018, the CW cast him as a primary antagonist in the network's "Black Lightning," adapted from DC Comics' superhero series. Calloway played the super-strong cyborg Painkiller, though, as was the case with Chuck Clayton, certain liberties were taken with his character and backstory. Whereas in the comics, Painkiller is a reasonably one-dimensional baddie, a mob enforcer who relishes in the violence his cybernetic enhancements make him capable of, the Painkiller of the CW is Khalil Payne, a high school track star left paralyzed by the bullets of the 100's crime syndicate. 

When he agrees to become a cyborg foot soldier for Black Lightning's archenemy Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III), it's primarily out of a desire to walk again rather than any thirst for carnage. There is apparent moral conflict in most of his actions, and it doesn't take long for Painkiller to turn against his new boss and sadistic alter-ego. Painkiller was well-received by network executives, and plans were put in place for a spin-off. The fourth and final season of "Black Lightning" even included an episode intended to be a backdoor pilot, but plans were scrapped in May of 2021.