Simone Joy Jones Is Dreaming Big
A Carnegie Mellon-trained actor who made her debut on Broadway at the age of 10, Simone Joy Jones is currently one of the stars of the hit Peacock drama, Bel-Air, where she plays Lisa Wilkes, Will's primary love interest during the first season, but season two kicks off with them going their separate ways.
But, that doesn't mean the end for this fan-favorite character, and the success of the series is definitely a new beginning for Simone Joy Jones who is also embarking on a career as a singer.
"I've always been a performer," Jones explains, "I've always been an artist. I grew up in church. So, I think that was where I put into practice for the first time, my love of singing, but my love was like storytelling and artistry was just always there. Whenever I watch TV, it was more like, oh yeah, I'm, I'm gonna be doing that soon. You know, it would feel like a dream. But, it also felt like it was an eventual type of thing."
Jones believes deeply in the power of dreams and credits her parents for supporting her from a young age, "I think people think of their dreams, and passions as such lofty things that they have to attain. But I grew up with such great parents, and they were like, 'it's already yours.' I was in my first Broadway show at 10 years old. And I came back very high off that. And my dad was like, 'what's next?' you know? So, there was never a ceiling for me in my family. And I think that absolutely propelled me to do the things I'm doing now and much more."
That includes taking the role of Lisa Wilkes on the Peacock drama, Bel-Air, a project that she initially was skeptical about accepting as she was courted to take the role before a script for the show even existed. "The original show was one of my favorite things in the world. I only wanted to be a part of it if the legacy was done right. And so with the scripts, and after meeting Morgan and TJ and Rasheed [the showrunners/creator], I was like, 'Oh, absolutely, this is something I want to really dig in and be a part of.'"
The character of Lisa Wilkes was played in the original series by Nia Long and Jones notes that she went back to watch the episodes that featured Long, but not for research purposes--instead to bring the magnetism that Long brought to the character. She adds that in the new series, Lisa is a "wild card" with a lot of possibility for growth and development. She also recognizes that the character is one that resonated with fans in the first season. "I'm not a person who looks at the response or looks online, I kind of like, do the work and like, let it go. But this one was kind of hard to escape, especially if I wanted to go on Twitter, or like literally anything, people were talking about Bel-Air every which way. But I appreciated the response, I really appreciated and they were really locked in."
As far as what the second season holds for Lisa, Jones wouldn't spill many secrets. "Oh, my gosh. I mean, it wouldn't be a secret or a surprise to tell you right now. (Laughs) I mean, Jackie is one of my favorite characters that's pulling up. So exciting. But I would say there are definitely some surprises for Lisa. She and Will broke up in the first episode. But I mean, doesn't mean he's far away. And it doesn't mean that Lisa's, you know, completely broken. Maybe has a new boo. Maybe she's branching out and trying her own thing, finding herself in different ways. And so that's what I'm really liking about this season. With Lisa."
Outside of Bel-Air, Jones is also working on creating new music and has been sharing her songs on social media. However, she isn't sure if her own vocal talents will be a part of Lisa's character. "You know what, the writers have been asking me and I'm just like, you know, what, if you do it--do it right. I just needed to be organic. Especially because I feel like singing is my main jam, you know, it was what I started with and what I continue to do. But yeah, I'm just like, you know, what, if you do it, you got to take care of it, or I won't."
As for her singles, "Ether" and "Angel" she notes that she is "in development mode."
Adding, "The last two songs I dropped "Ether" and "Angel," were more for a directorial standpoint, I put out a mini-short film for both of those. And I just had a clear idea of what I wanted to do visually. So the next project that I'm coming out with, or the next couple of projects for me, are going to be really Simone and what Simone's style is. So I'm really excited about what I've been doing in the studio lately, it's been like soul and R&B alternative. And now being in LA, it's been a lot of community building. I've been in New York girl, I've been a Texas girl. I've been a Pittsburgh girl. And one thing I love about me is that I build community pretty easily. And so now having a year of LA under my belt, I've just been working with some amazing collaborators. And so that's what makes me super, super excited about what's coming musically for me."
With so much going on, the 23-year-old recent Los Angeles transplant says that she is careful to be self-aware when it comes to her own self-care. "I think it's a constant journey. For me, it's always evolving in different learning that in different seasons of my life, I'm going to need different things. So now I'm just a lot better at listening to my body. Last year, I got my yoga teacher certification, I was just super into yoga. And I did it in Greece and taught in Greece a little bit. And that was a great tool because it's so mobile, and I don't like need anything or anyone to do it. So yoga has been super grounding for me."
She adds, "Self-care for me is also talking to my mom. I know when I'm a little frantic or a little wild, I think 'I have not talked to my mom a bit.' Because she is, for sure, just comforting and humbling and so gracious. So making sure I have those voices in my life, making sure that those are louder than the ones that are criticizing me. And making sure the love is bigger than everything else. Making sure that love is bigger than everything else."