Some might remember her as the sassy-talking wife on “For Your Love” or the woman Taye Diggs couldn’t get over in “The Wood.” Either way, Tamala Jones has always made her presence felt no matter the role. Nowadays, the 34-year-old California native sees dead people as a medical examiner on the new medical drama “Castle.” Jones sat down with ESSENCE.com to talk about her near-death experience, why she got breast implants, and her pulbic romances.
ESSENCE.COM: Welcome back! We understand that you get your hands dirty as Lanie Parish, a medical examiner, on “Castle.” How’s it walking in those scrubs?
TAMALA JONES: Great. The thing is, I’m good at that sister-girl role but I had to stop taking that role. When it comes to White Hollywood, they think that’s all you can do as a Black actress, but I encourage my agent to send me out for roles that are written for Caucasian women. My role on this show was written for a White woman and only recurring, not a series-regular role. I was about to test for Jada Pinkett’s new show, “HawthoRNe,” when they asked me to be a series regular.
ESSENCE.COM: It’s all about knocking down racial barriers. Speaking of which, how has Obama’s presidency affected Black Hollywood?
JONES: I’ve noticed that they are allowing Black people to play certain roles. If you think about it, Dennis [Haysbert], the All State Farm Guy, played the President of the United States on “24” before Obama was elected. What the president has done is make Black Hollywood more aware of political issues and encourage us to understand what we’re voting for.
ESSENCE.COM: Let’s switch gears. There was a time that you disappeared from the scene. What were you up to?
JONES: Recovering. At 23, I almost died from a brain aneurysm. It popped from extreme stress. I was filming “The Wood” and the whole right side of my body went numb. Back then I was doing three shows and not taking care of myself. I later found out that it was hereditary on my mom’s side of the family. I tell people if you have a pain you need to go to the doctor and not ignore it. Young people think things like that only happen to old people.
ESSENCE.COM: That’s so true. Some speculated that your sudden lack of roles had to do with the breast augmentation you received. Do you agree?
JONES: It wasn’t the breast augmentation. I was depressed after my house was burned down and I lost everything. I picked up weight and the casting people called my manager to find out what was going on with me. As Black people, when you put on a little weight we don’t make a big deal about it, but for Hollywood it’s a problem. I hate that I got the breat augmentation. I was tired of constantly being told to tape my breast to make it appear I had more cleavage, so I said let me just take care of it all at once, and I did, but I think I hurt myself by thinking I had to do that.
ESSENCE.COM: Weren’t you dating southern rapper Big Gipp from the Goodie Mob? What happened with you two?
JONES: Gip and I dated for four years. He and I are still friends and talk occassionally. I still love him. After four years, I had to face the reality after having the difficult conversation that he was married to his career and told me as much. I have to respect that whether or not that’s what I wanted to hear. I want to be married so I had to keep it moving. Being honest was the most responsible thing he could have done instead of dragging me along. Again, I understood and couldn’t be mad at him for telling me the truth. I’m dating now, and I think I’ve passed my 20-something phase of dating rappers/artists and I simply date who I like. I’m trying to broaden my horizons and that’s always a good thing.
Tune in to watch Tamala Jones on ABC’s “Castle” on Mondays at 9 P.M.