We had the good fortune of connecting with Joy Yvonne Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joy Yvonne, how do you think about risk?
Risk is a regular part of my life as a professional Actress. Choosing this profession without reservation is a risk, auditioning is a risk and sharing my work is a risk. Most days, I don’t think about it, but then there are times when I have to truly weigh the outcome of my actions. These moments usually come in the form of speaking out against abuse or inequities. As a performer, we are taught early on in our training that we are all replaceable, so speaking out is highly discouraged. This creates a community that almost rewards trauma – taking pride in tearing down students, and forgetting to rebuild them, and then calling us weak when we burn out. I have hit a point in my journey, where I have gotten tired of justifying abuse by “authority figures” because “standing up for myself could ruin my career.” Success should not come at the expense of our mental health. With the recent racial unrest in the country, many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, including myself, have been called upon to help facilitate the change we would like to see. I have sat in meeting after meeting helping institutions draft anti-racism statements and policies. Someone pointed out how often in trying to soften the blow of our words directed at the institution, we don’t say exactly what we mean. We give the institution more grace than it would ever consider giving us. So, I’ve stopped holding back. That doesn’t mean that I’m disrespectful or mean spirited, it means I’m honest and passionate. This is my profession and I have the right to be open about my experiences and even criticize traditionally classist and racist practices. The risk is that these institutions absolutely have the right not to hire me again, no matter how talented or qualified I am. However , I’m willing to take that risk because someone may see my courage and speak out in a toxic work environment potentially inspiring the next person. One day all of our voices combined will inspire a mighty big change.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up in Houston. My family is very religious, so church was a family event. On Sunday mornings my Great Grandmother would share her poetry with the congregation. The power in her voice was mesmerizing and I wanted to be just like her. My grandmother and I were very close so every time I had the opportunity to perform my Great Grandmother was right there helping me with lines. When I finally decided that I would like to pursue acting as a profession my mother asked, “How are you going to make money?” From that moment I knew that I had to make a plan and get to work. I began training at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and went on to study at the University of Minnesota in the Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program. I don’t know what makes me special, but I do know that storytelling is what I am called to do and I work hard to honor that gift and sacrifices that my family has made for me to follow my heart. This journey has not been easy, but it has been incredibly rewarding. God constantly sends me signs that this is the path that I am supposed to take and those are the moments that I hold on to in the midst of the storms.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a hard time selecting just a few people to shout out because the San Diego Theatre community has met me with open arms. New Village Arts was the first Theatre to hire and invest in me. Kristianne Kurner has become a valued friend and mentor. And then there is Moxie Theatre who has regularly pushed me to reach new artistic heights with the shows and even the auditions that I have done with them. Jen Thorn lives in the world of “yes and” her ability to jump in and be innovative inspires me. The single person in San Diego that has made the biggest and most impactful influence on my life is Delicia Turner-Sonnenburg. She functions at a consistent level of bad assery and still takes the time to be a mentor to the artists in this community. She is constantly reminding me not to ask permission to be bold.
Outside of the Badass Lady Tribe I have found in San Diego I have to shoutout my husband Austen who has been by my side encouraging me every step of the way.
Facebook: Joy Yvonne Jones
Other: Tiktok – @joyyvonnejones