(Blogger's Note: Jill Marie Jones is a popular actress widely known for her role as “Toni Childs” on the sitcom Girlfriends. The Dallas native was also a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader for two years and a Dallas Mavericks dancer for one year. She was recently in Houston performing in the stage play “Marriage Material" produced by I'm Ready Productions. I talked with her one-on-one about her role in the play, her love for mentoring young girls and her upcoming projects.)
Brother Jesse Muhammad (BJ): Tell me about your role in Marriage Material. Why did you choose to take part in this play?
Jill Marie Jones (JJ): Well first of all I've been offered or approached to do plays in the past and it's really about the material for me and if it makes sense in terms of what I am trying to do with my own career. So I always respect the writers and always read the material and see if it works for me and if it doesn't. But what I read in Marriage Material--Je’Caryous is so gifted and talented in his writing. The lines were just jumping off the page for me and I loved the character which he wanted me to play. I am playing Koren Lyles.
And I like the message of the play because it's amazing every night. People come up to us saying how it's made them think about their own relationship. But Koren Lyles is a woman that's been kind of burned in the love department and she doesn't necessarily believe that true love is possible. And she has this amazing guy in her life, which is played by Allen Payne, who wants to marry her. And he takes her to a premarital retreat to see if you're even compatible or even ready for marriage. Basically he pulls her there kicking and screaming because she doesn't want to get married. And then it just so happens that at this retreat, her ex-boyfriend, who is played by Tank, and her best friend who he slept with, T-Boz's character, they're at this premarital retreat too. So as you can tell probably by me talking a little bit about it, a lot of drama ensues. So yeah that's basically what the play is about and it's about Koren trying to find her way back to love, really.
BJ: What is the message in this play that resonated with you that you hope the audience will walk away with?
JJ: Well just that we can't take the baggage. It's kind of easier said than done but you know if you do the work on the path and the journey of getting a lesson, hopefully we won't take the baggage from previous relationships into the new relationships. And that's kind of what Koren has done in this play. Because oftentimes, the bullet that's meant for that ex that did wrong, somehow this new amazing person in your life is catching that bullet instead. So hopefully learning how to get the lessons and learn from it and move on pass all the hurt and the pain.
BJ: Do you ever talk and mentor to young girls?
JJ: Oh absolutely. I do empowerment speaking all the time. I'm in the infancy stages of my foundation which is A Village Produces the Naked Truth and it's geared toward the youth.
BJ: And what is the main theme of your message when you talk to the young girls of today?
JJ: Well the great thing about my own foundation, like I said we're just starting up, it's a little bit more in your face, hands on. It's basically preparing these young kids for this war that is out here in this world. I understand that you think that your little Becky and your little Joseph are too young to know about certain things but out here in this world you know there is a war going on. And we have to arm our youth with the tools to be able to handle what's going on out here. So that's basically what my foundation is about. So we kind of get into the nitty gritty. But when I do go to schools and speak, like I've done "We are our Own Prevention" hookup with the HIV and AIDS group to go in and talk to kids about safe sex and stuff like that. I did a Pantene Tour where we were empowering women. And this was about having your own--loving yourself. So, that kind of stuff.
BJ: What do your fans have to look forward to from you in the next couple of years? Do you have any upcoming movies?
JJ: Yeah, I actually have two films coming out. One with Jeffrey Tambor called Meeting Spencer, which was a great project for me to work on. And then I have a film coming out with Nicole Ari Parker, Pamela Jones, Ken Hart, Keith Washington, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Mike Epps called 35 and Cooking. And then I have this play (Marriage Material), February until May. So I will be busy until the top half of 2011. So that's a blessing, working. That's definitely a blessing.
BJ: Thank you so much for your time and I will definitely be on the lookout for your foundation when it launches. I follow you on Twitter so I keep up with you!
JJ: Thank you so much