Family & Companions
A bright-eyed, smooth-skinned and poised African-American actress, Tamala Jones proved more than just a pretty face with a winning smile by creating a varied career based upon her versatile talent, working steadily in comedic and dramatic projects for both film and television. Jones made her feature film debut at age twenty, appearing in "How to Make an American Quilt" (1995) as the great-grandmother of Maya Angelou's character, injected into the storyline via a flashback cameo. That same year the actress racked up high-profile television roles in episodes of the sitcoms "The Wayans Bros." and "The Parent 'Hood" (both The WB) and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC) as well as a recurring role as Joanie, the niece of Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle) on the NBC drama "ER." From there Jones joined the regular cast of the ABC drama "Dangerous Minds." Based upon the hit film chronicling the true story of a teacher's observations of the struggles in a tough inner city high school, the series was short-lived but offered her a turn to show her dramatic chops, portraying a teenage mother bravely facing the challenges of parenthood, education and an abusive spouse.
The up and coming actress had a banner year in 1997, when she landed a supporting role in the popular comedy "Booty Call" as well as a featured recurring turn on the NBC sitcom "Veronica's Closet." The varied audiences she reached with these two disparate projects helped to raise Jones' profile across the board and keep her professional options open. The actress was next featured in the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998), playing an exiting senior whose football star boyfriend is considering letting her go in preparation for the idealized pool of available women awaiting him in college. Though she wasn't one of the ensemble film's primaries, Jones made the most of her part, often stealing scenes as the delightfully shallow character. That same year Jones was cast in a more grown-up role as a divorcee with many of the same relationship problems as a high-schooler, saddled with a commitment-phobic boyfriend (Edafe Okurume) on the sitcom "For Your Love" (NBC, 1998; The WB, 1998-2001). As teacher Bobbie, she showcased the winning combination of irreverent moxie and surprising sweetness that often marked her characterizations.
While appearing on "For Your Love," Jones continued to pop up on the big screen frequently. In 1999 the actress was featured in both the romantic drama "The Wood" and the action comedy "Blue Streak," while the following year saw her in the musical drama "Turn it Up" and the comedies "The Ladies Man" and "Next Friday," where her portrayal of Mike Epps' stalker ex-girlfriend won many of the film's laughs. Back on television, Jones amassed 2000 credits that includes a turn as Lucille of rock song fame in the well-produced NBC biopic "Little Richard."
In 2001, Jones renewed her focus on the big screen in supporting roles in the African-American ensemble features "The Brothers" and "Kingdom Come." These projects offered the actress the opportunity to create characters while working alongside more experienced performers, and Jones certainly made the best advantage of the situation with shining performances. Later that year, she was one of the women being schooled in the management of men by Vivica A. Fox's savvy but stumped character in the comedy "Two Can Play That Game" and brought the overly romantic "On the Line" down to earth with a turn as the ambitious and controlling advertising executive who clashes with the innovative but idealistic Kevin (*NSYNC's Lance Bass).
Cast (Feature Film)
Began taking acting classes in the sixth grade (date approximate)
Cast in first national commercial for IBM at age fifteen (date approximate)
Had a recurring role as Peter Benton's niece Joanie on "ER" (NBC), also appeared on episodes of "The Wayans Bros.", "The Parent 'Hood" (both The WB) and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (NBC)
Feature film debut with a flashback cameo as the great-grandmother of Maya Angelou's character in "How to Make an American Quilt"
Played a teenage mother on the ABC series "Dangerous Minds"
Acted in the comedy "Booty Call"
Had a featured role in the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait"
Featured in the urban drama "The Wood" and the action comedy "Blue Streak"
Played the famed Lucille in the NBC biopic "Little Richard"
Played Mike Epps' stalker ex-girlfriend in "Next Friday"; also featured in the musical drama "Turn It Up" and the comedy "The Ladies Man"
Co-starred in "On the Line" as a fiercely ambitious advertising executive who clashes with Lance Bass' hopeless romantic
Featured in the African-American ensemble features "The Brothers" and "Kingdom Come"
Played one of the women being schooled in men by Vivica A. Fox in the comedy "Two Can Play That Game"
Reprised role of Joanie on "ER"