Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Parks and Recreation, The Office
Currently Known For:
2000 - Present
February 25, 1976
Parks and Recreation, The Office
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For more than a decade now, one actress that’s been at the forefront of the comedy world is Rashida Jones. From appearing in massively successful big screen comedies to starring in multiple hit series, Jones has been all over the place since her career really took off in the 2000s. She’s thrown in some dramatic roles during that time for good measure, bolstering herself as a tremendous (albeit sometimes overlooked) actress during her career.
Though Jones is a common last name, it should be familiar with music fans as she’s the daughter of legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Rashida also has an acting background thanks to her mother Peggy Lipton, who appeared on “The Mod Squad”. “My parents are the coolest of cool on every single level,” Jones said. “And it’s because they have a deep appreciation for every moment of their lives.” Jones herself was born on February 25, 1976 in Los Angeles, California and focused much of her younger life in music.
Having famous parents, Jones said it wasn’t easy to adjust to normal life. “For the most part, having more money and more fame makes your life hard,” she said. “It just does. I’ve seen it happen with people. You know, it’s so hard to stay normal. It’s so hard to stay happy. It’s hard to remember why you were doing what you did in the first place.”
Jones was a bright student while growing up. “In early high school years, I was pretty chubby and I spent a lot of time on my computer, before it was cool to have a computer,” Jones said. “Because there was a time that was true. So that’s where I developed my personality.” She eventually made her way to Harvard University where she began studying theater more closely. Jones finished her schooling there, earning her degree in the process.
From there, Jones had a decision to make, and wound up heading down the acting path. She did admit, though, that “I probably wouldn’t be acting if I didn’t grow up in Hollywood...In elementary and high school, I never considered acting as a profession.” Her early comedy career didn’t go well, Jones also said, calling herself “Terrible” when she first started.
In 1997, Jones made her acting debut in a miniseries called “The Last Don” and the following year appeared in a short film. Then, Jones’s career really started to take off in 2000 after a couple of independent films and guest spots on TV that included “Freaks and Geeks”. At the same time, Jones had landed a regular role in the series “Boston Public” for three years.
During the middle of the decade, Jones added more TV roles that would ultimately be short-lived with “NY-LON” and “Wanted”, and had supporting roles in movies like “Little Black Book” and “Death of a Dynasty”. The big breakout for Jones came when she took on a recurring role in “The Office”, playing Karen, the love interest of Jim Halpert after he had moved branches.
Jones appeared two dozen episodes over the rest of the 2000s, which helped to land her in films like “I Love You, Man” and “The Ten”. After her full-time stint on “The Office” wrapped up, Jones stuck around NBC for another memorable role. This time around, Jones was playing Ann Perkins, a main character on the sitcom “Parks and Recreation”, remaining with the series for more than 100 episodes up until 2015.
During that time, Jones continued to make guest appearances on several other shows, most of which were voice roles. Meanwhile, on the big screen, Jones started of the 2010s with movies such as “Cop Out”, “The Muppets” and “Our Idiot Brother”. She continued her voice work in films like “Inside Out” and over the past few years has been incredibly busy.
Jones has lent her voice to blockbuster movies such as “The Grinch”, “Toy Story 4” and “Spies in Disguise”, also earning several writing credits. Other recent films include “The Sound of Silence” and she’ll appear in the upcoming “On the Rocks”. She was rather busy with television during this time as she took on the titular role in “Angie Tribeca” for three years, and has written and produced for several shows, starring in the upcoming animated series “Duncanville” on Fox.
Even with some recent dramatic roles, Jones says that comedy continues to be her focus. “I’m a comedy geek so anything comedy related, whether that’s stand-up shows, improv shows, I’m all over that,” she said. “That’s my favorite way to be entertained always.” Jones also mentioned that “Comedy is like music, and the way to make the best music to have skilled musicians in your band...If I can find myself with hilarious people every day, I will always want to go to work.”
She added that when it comes to her approach that “I’m not a method actress by any stretch of the imagination so the best thing that I can do is be as real as possible and find whatever commonality in that character that I can see myself.”
“I’ve been really lucky thus far with acting, in that I can do things I believe in and feel good about, and feel good about myself,” Jones said of her career to this point. “If for some reason one day that ends, I won’t do it anymore. If I feel like I have to compromise myself to continue to be in this industry, I don’t want to do that.”