Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland to an African American father and mother of mixed Euro-American and Caribbean descent. Her multicultural background and upbringing in Boston, Washington DC, and Queens, New York, influenced her development into what The New Yorker termed a “multicultural mynah bird [who] lays our mongrel nation before us with gorgeous, pitch-perfect impersonations of the rarely heard or dramatized.”
Jones attended The United Nations International School and Bryn Mawr College where she was the recipient of the Mellon Minority Fellowship. She originally planned a career as a lawyer, but left college early and eventually found her way to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NYC, where she began competing in poetry slams and won the citywide Grand Slam Championship in 1997, then began developing monologues based on her poetry which she performed in character.
Her first solo show, Surface Transit, debuted at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in 1998. After gaining the attention of feminist icon Gloria Steinem and human rights organization Equality Now, Jones was commissioned by the organization to write and perform her next project, Women Can’t Wait!, to address discriminatory laws against women.
A second commission for the National Immigration Forum to raise awareness about immigrant rights issues yielded Waking the American Dream, the solo show that became the basis for Bridge & Tunnel, which set an Off-Broadway box office record during its six-month, sold-out run in New York in 2004.
In 2005, a commission from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to raise awareness of ethnic and racial health disparities in the U.S. resulted in A Right to Care, Jones’ fourth solo piece, which premiered in 2005 at the Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary conference alongside keynote speaker President Jimmy Carter.
Jones has performed for the United Nations, members of U.S. Congress and on tours of India, Nepal, Europe, and South Africa. In addition to live performance, Jones has appeared nationally and internationally on various television shows including her own eponymous Bravo special, in four films and on various music projects featuring her poetry.
One such project, a track by DJ Vadim, which featured Jones’ hip hop-inspired poem “Your Revolution”, led to her historic battle with, and eventual victory over, an FCC indecency ruling.
Jones and her work have garnered critical acclaim and awards including grants and commissions from the Lincoln Center Theater, the Ford Foundation, and others, as well as honors including a Helen Hayes Award, two Drama Desk nominations, and HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival’s Best One Person Show Award.
Edited by [deleted user] on 23 Jan 2008, 12:12
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