A native of southern Ohio, Jay Oney began his theatre career at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, S.C. as an actor in Don Borders's production of Arsenic and Old Lace. After earning his bachelor's degree from Furman University in 1978 and his master of arts in theatre history from Penn State in 1980, Oney spent a year as an acting intern at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Va. He returned to Norfolk the following season as a staff carpenter and was later cast in his first Actors Equity union role in A Christmas Carol. Over the years, Oney has acted in St Augustine, Fla., Farmington, Pa., Williamsburg, Va., Milwaukee, Louisville, Ky., and Holland, Mich.
In New York, Oney took classes from William Hickey. He appeared as an extra in One Life to Live, and had a role in The Doctor in Spite of Himself at the New York Renaissance Festival. He also performed in a children's theatre touring production of The Miser for Lincoln Center. He returned to graduate school at Ohio State and received his doctorate in 1996. His dissertation is titled, "Women Playwrights During the Struggle for Control of the London Theatre, 1695-1710."
Before completing his doctorate, Oney and his wife, Carol, spent a year teaching English as a second language in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. A full-time member of the Furman theatre arts faculty since 1996, Oney has taught Introduction to Theatre, Ideas in the Arts, Acting I, Acting II, Directing, Theatre History I & II, Readings in Dramatic Literature, and Senior Synthesis. He directs at least one production each year and acted in The Imaginary Invalid, Fortinbras, Harvey, An Evening with Ives, and The Tempest.