Rashida Jones says growing up with two famous parents (Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton) gave her “a very healthy outlook on fame”. She is pictured above at the 2019 annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for The Recording Academy hide the caption
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for The Recording Academy
When it comes to fame, actor Rashida Jones has seen it all. Grew up in Hollywood as the daughter of the superstar music producer Quincy Jones and Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton, Jones watched some people rise to success – and others seemed to fade away.
In her own household, Jones’ mother was uncomfortable with her rapid rise to fame at such a young age and became more introverted as her father became more famous.
“It changed the dynamics of our household,” says Jones. “People think [fame is] This wonderful, magical panacea, and it’s actually the opposite. It can be a poison. It can be exhilarating and destructive. “
At first, Jones didn’t want any part of show business or fame. Instead, she focused on academics to become a lawyer or a judge. But then, as a student at Harvard, she started doing comedy shows and her attitude changed.
“I had a lot of friends in college who became comedy writers,” says Jones. “And I think if you are friends with funny, witty people at a certain age, you want that, I don’t know, to make a living.”
Jones starred in seven seasons of the NBC comedy series Parks and recreation. She is currently playing Kenya Barris in the Netflix series #blackAF. In the new film On the Rocks, Jones plays a writer and mother who suspect that her husband is having an affair. Your father, played by Bill Murraygives her advice based on his own outdated view of manhood.
Jones was filming On the Rocks shortly afterwards lose their mother get cancer and become a mother yourself. It was a turbulent time and she almost turned down the role, but she’s glad she didn’t.
“In a strange way, this film was kind of a rescue for me because [director] Sofia [Coppola] is such an affectionate, contemporary director and friend, “says Jones.” Landing in this world for a few months when I was going through the hardest time of my life was like a real gift. “
To lose her mother and become a mother at about the same time
This has been a very emotionally intense couple of years. … It was like going back to back to back to back, just pulling my heart in all directions. I was in shock. I don’t even know if that’s a word, but I wasn’t in my body at all and I just had a baby. I wasn’t in my body twice. …
The craziest thing about birth and death is just the utter rawness of feeling. I still feel that way I guess. It’s like something is breaking inside of you. It’s very binary, both things – becoming a mother and losing my mother – like, there is my life before and there is my life after. And strangely enough, there is something that cannot be seen until these two things have happened. And it’s just this utter rudeness of emotions where it doesn’t matter where I am what I do. If I am overwhelmed by this sadness or joy, this is it. I need to feel this thing. I cannot suppress it. I can’t run away It’s just there.
About finding meaning and identity in the center of life and developing a greater awareness of death
I think there are these great chapters in life. I remember feeling a bit like this in my late 20s because I really like these deep questions about who I was and don’t recognize myself. And then I feel like I’ve come back to it a bit over the past few years, probably not as much as my 20s because I think that in your 20s you really aren’t entirely sure how everything is going to play out. Now halfway through, I can’t pretend my life isn’t what it is and it’s great and I’m very grateful for that.
But I think my relationship with the world and how I see my life developing from here on, and what’s important to me and to be honest, my relationship with death, because that’s something that really starts in the middle, I think of your life, where you are invincible until then. And then suddenly you lose the person you love most who brought you here, and without them you wouldn’t be here. And it really stimulates this much bigger thing that is, OK, how do I live my life in a way that honors my inevitable death? … As my father always says: “Live every day like it is your last, and one day you will be right.”
As a biracial actor, often considered not easy enough to play white roles, and not black enough for black roles
As a biracial you only live in the middle by nature. You just do it. And I’m not complaining about that at all. It is just the way it is. The nice thing is that there is a part of who makes you like a bridge in some ways because you always feel like an outsider. But when I was younger there were a lot less biracial people on TV and in movies. I think people were confused whether they saw me or saw my name on the registration form, or they were kind of confused about how to cast me. And I remember panicking when I was poured into something and had to have a family and have this discussion with the director, the writer, whatever, and say, “I want to be portrayed as my ethnic Belonging is in real life. I don’t want to cover anything up or whatever. “
I think because my hair is naturally straight and my eyes are green and I am fairly fair skinned, the instinct is not to refer to myself as black. And I think as far as things have changed and there are more mixed families and more interracial families … and there is a lot more understanding of the different ways biracial people can look which is great. So there is a lot more understanding. And it’s less of a big deal now than it was when I started acting, which is very nice. And I think it was a huge relief for me to be able to play roles in which I can go black and black without apology like I am in #blackAF because it’s a whole side of me that I haven’t really reached play very often.
Growing up in Hollywood compared to her father, who grew up poor on the South Side of Chicago
I think about it every day of my life because I think about circumstance and happiness. So little of what our life is has anything to do with what we did to get here, and I am constantly aware of the happiness that has been granted to me because of the country I was born in [in], the parents I was born to, all of these things are absolutely out of my control. And then I think of my father who created his happiness, created it out of nothing, worked so hard and then lived this life full of love. And he had no grudges. He didn’t hold onto his anger. And he just kept doing things out of love. And so he learned to survive. …
I just think about how ridiculous it is that I exist because parenting on either side, the likelihood that I would exist – a Black Jew in 2021 and be successful and thriving – is a miracle.
Besides being grateful, I think about my family history and where my father came from. And then I think of my mother’s side in the family [which is] completely Ashkenazi Jewish. And I did this show: who do you think you are? and we went to Latvia, to the village where my mother’s great-grandfather was born and the whole village was devastated during the war and everyone was killed. And I just think about how ridiculous it is that I exist because parenting on either side, the likelihood that I would exist – a Black Jew in 2021 and be successful and prosperous – is a miracle. And I don’t take that for granted. I think about it all the time every day. I don’t understand why I was selected, but I feel like I need to improve the survival of my father and family.
On Parks and recreation Gain traction as soon as you start streaming
The funny thing is that it wasn’t an incredibly popular show [while it was on TV]. It is now. But while we were in the air, we got canceled almost half a dozen times. Not that many people saw it. And we always felt like we were in the bubble. There were several different presidents of NBC who wanted to cancel it and then [they] was stopped or canceled and then changed her mind. And we became like little pickups here and there, six episodes, 12 episodes.
It didn’t feel like a successful show. I mean, it came from within in the sense that the performers made love. We loved to play together. It was such a dynamic typist and cast. And every minute this show was filmed was so entertaining, every minute really. And I think anyone who was there would say the same thing. But then Netflix happened. Streaming happened. And this show is being rewritten as this enormous cult hit. But the truth is, it wasn’t when we were up.
Heidi Saman and Thea Chaloner produced this interview and edited it for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper, and Beth Novey customized it for the web.