In the Loop With: Hollywood Bombshell Tamala Jones
One of Tinsletown's most versatile Black actresses talks industry woes and wins.
With 25 years of film and television experience under her belt, Tamala Jones is still one of the most in-demand starlets working today. Not that you'd be able to tell from her ever flawless complexion -- banish the worry lines, we get the 411 on her skin care regime, too -- radiant smile and personality as feisty as the characters she often plays. Oh, you remember them. From "ER" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" to "The Wood" and "The Brothers," Jones has been stealing scenes in crowded, star-studded ensemble casts for quite some time.
Now in her fifth season as medical examiner Lanie Parish on CBS' hit crime-drama "Castle," Jones talks to us about the role she regrets most (hint: it's not "Booty Call," because that's a certified classic!), her unapologetically, surgically-enhanced "boobs," why she hates Facebook and why she'd never do a reality show.[Who Are The 10 Richest Black Actresses Under 40?]
You've been in the industry over 20 years. What's the one role you regret?
"Confessions of a Call Girl." It didn't come off the way it was written, or the way we performed it. When I saw that script, I was like, 'Yes, this woman is complex!' But it was the editing.
You, Kerry Washington and Taraji Henson are some of the few Black actresses on primetime TV. Are you satisfied with the opportunities offered to you all?
They're brilliant, but there's definitely a ways to go. Those roles were written for them. My role was written for a white actress and we asked if it was okay for me to read for it anyway, so sometimes you gotta step out the box a bit. But we should have shows, African American shows, on primetime like we did with "Martin," "Living Single" and "In Living Color."
So, where can that change begin?
Unfortunately, as much as we like "Basketball Wives," it's the reality shows that have caused this. It's really about what's gonna be the moneymaker. Now, crime shows are really funny and the half hour shows gotta be wild and crazy, and black people have to go to TBS, TV Land, or BET. You're not doing anything sci-fi or law-related because it's not gonna get on the air. It doesn't have anything to do with race as much as we'd like to blame it on that. It's all about money.
Would you do a reality show?
No. They consider that the actors' graveyard. If we go on "Dancing With the Stars," it's like, 'Poor thing! She's done!'
But we did see you sing in an episode of "Castle" last season. Who do you listen to, and would you ever embark on a music career?
Most of the people I listen to are dead [laughs]. I like the songs on the radio now, but sometimes it gets a little crazy with the booty poppin'. I listen to Minnie Riperton, a lot of Motown classics, Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye. I'll get funky and listen to Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday or Jimi Hendrix. I get in these moods and listen to Bob Marley. I like all music -- except for classical. I can't stand that stuff. So, I'd probably have to do a covers album first in order to figure out what I want. Music was my first passion. I used to think I could be a rapper. I had my little crew and everything but, girl, I had to let that go [laughs]!
What's one song you've heard and movie role you've watched that you wish had been yours?
Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep.' That song is so fly. She's just preaching to you the whole time! And I wish I could have been in 'The Matrix,' the Jada Pinkett role.
You've been open and honest about your cosmetic surgery. What do you think of the industry's obsession with body image?
This is a town about looks, and that's no secret, so I don't feel bad that I augmented my breasts. I feel bad that they're this big [laughs]! That is not what I asked for. I was very vocal about it, and a lot of people got mad, but I'm like, 'Why wouldn't I be? I had little speed bumps my whole life and then I come out with DDs!' I got tired of duct-taping them together in order to get cleavage -- they ripped your skin and everything! I've gotten used to them, but I do want to get them a tad bit smaller.
Speaking of looks, you've always had great skin.
I have been smashing anti-aging cream on my face since I was in my 20s [laughs]. I was using a skincare line called Beauty Scientific by this woman. It was online only, but she's gone and I can't find her. It kept your skin like porcelain. Now I use Sphatika. Everything's made with natural ingredients and she adds quartz! She has this Pearl Night Serum and you only put three drops on at nighttime and when you wake up you look like a baby. It's crazy! Also, vitamin C drops mixed in with your moisturizer is a key ingredient to keeping your skin exfoliated and really smooth.
Over your career, you've seen the way fans can access celebrities change drastically.
I have! The tabloids are cute to look at. I'll go see what Kimye's doing, but I really don't believe any of that stuff. I love Twitter, though. That is the most genius social media program. It beats sitting down and writing and returning fan mail. What I hate the most is Facebook. It used to be a platform to find old high school buddies, but it has turned into something completely different.
So what can we expect from "Castle" in the future?
I don't know because Andrew [Marlowe], our executive producer, is so secretive! We don't get the scripts until two days before we shoot that episode. But we have a great two-parter that's super intense coming up and some great guest stars like Gina Torres. I freaking love her. And Esposito and Lanie are back together and sneaking around again, but they get a little wild this time. It's not so much lovey-dovey, they're like animalistic with each other.
What's your favorite Tamala Jones role? Tell us in the comments below!