Thomas Q. Jones may be a relatively new face in Hollywood, but he's undoubtedly already making major waves. Starring across from industry heavy-hitters such as Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard, and now Isaiah Washington on BET's Tales, this 40-year-old pro-athlete turned persuasive actor is proving with each project that he can indeed hold his own and that he's ready to continue making a name for himself. Only this time, it's on a different kind of world stage.
Hailing from humble beginnings in Virginia, Jones decided to pivot in 2014 after 12 successful years of playing football. But as he revealed in our chat on an early midweek morning, acting wasn't necessarily the plan, nor was it something he was even seriously considering--at least not initially. "It wasn't until I got the role on Being Mary Jane where I said, 'This could either go really good or really bad depending on how I approach it,'" he tells xoNecole. "But now, especially after my training, I'm able to put my full self into each role that I get. And it's almost like I never played football because nobody really talks about it much or brings it up. And that was my goal."
So whether you know him as an NFL champion, Comanche, or perhaps more intimately as Cuddy Buddy--it's pretty safe to say that for Thomas Q. Jones, capturing the hearts of viewers is a task he is both ready and willing to take and run with.
xoNecole got the chance to chat with the Tales star where we discussed his latest role, personal growth, and why honest women are the keys to his heart.
*Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
You've managed to secure spots in some of the hottest shows and movies seemingly right out the gate: ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Straight Outta Compton’, ‘Being Mary Jane’, and now ‘Tales’ on BET. What has that experience been like for you?
I was excited when I read the script and when they actually brought me in for the role. I went in, looked at it, and really connected to the character and the material. I didn't know about Elijah [Kelly] or Isaiah [Washington] or anyone else, but the next morning after I was cast--Irv [Gotti] called me and was like, "Hey we got Elijah Kelley and Isaiah Washington," and I was like, wow. I've been a fan of Isaiah's for years and Elijah is a great up and coming actor, so it was just great to work with those two.
I think Irv and his production team, the whole crew, post-production, sound--everybody just killed it. It wasn't like I was watching TV. It felt like I was watching a movie. Everyone was very connected to the characters and in tune and we were really like family on set. Irv did a great job directing it. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with the story and the writers knew exactly what they wanted to do. They really pulled those characters out of us.
Photo by 'Tales'/BET
What's been the biggest difference you've found in Thomas the Actor versus Thomas the Professional NFL Star?
Growth. In football, you grow physically, obviously you get bigger and better. But you don't really get a chance to grow as a person. It's a very one-dimensional world, the NFL is. Ultimately, whether it's a home or an away game--you're still playing football. It's still x's and o's. You're still in that world of competition and the only thing that changes is the intensity--based off of whether it's a regular season game or the Super Bowl. Acting is very, very different. You're playing different characters, working with different actors, directors, producers, environments. It's just so much more there. You're working with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences; you have to interpret things differently. And in turn, you grow as a person.
With everything you have going for you, I assume your schedule is jam-packed nowadays. Do you have time to date?
You know what, I'm definitely interested in finding someone I'm compatible with. My Mom wants more grandkids; and it's funny because everybody in my family thought I'd be the one married with kids by now. But it just didn't work out. And it's tough now because of my scheduling and just being able to trust people sometimes. You don't know exactly what people's intentions are, so you have to take the time to figure it out. You can't make hasty decisions. It's a little tricky, but I'm open to it. I'm not actively looking but I am aware. Hopefully soon I can find me a nice, strong Black woman to marry and have kids with, but it's just got to be the right situation.
When you do find that potentially right situation, what qualities does she need to possess in order to make you commit?
Security. Not just financially but within herself. That's sexy to me. She needs to be someone that can teach me things, you know someone I can learn from. Obviously you want to be physically attracted, but there are a lot of things that can be sexy on someone. I don't really have one thing. It could be how she looks at me or how she takes control of a situation, her attitude, the way she carries herself.
I don't think I have a preference, but Black Women are everything to me. They are my type, but they don't have to look a certain way. Short hair, braids, locs, short, tall, caramel, chocolate. All shapes, sizes, colors, complexions, energies. It doesn't matter. I blame y'all for being so dope. Love y'all, I really do.
We definitely love you too.
I'm glad to hear that, I appreciate that.
So when you’re committed, how do you make your woman feel special and important?
I like to do flowers, get her address to wherever she is and send them. I also send them to my Mother and my sisters. I have five sisters, two older and two younger. Of course special dinners, movies, cards. The main thing for me is just to be honest. You have to truly make sure you tell that person how much you love them and care about them. Because the reality is life is short; we take it for granted. I really think it's dope when your significant other is also your friend and not just a placeholder.
Photo by Ian Maddux
"The main thing for me is just to be honest… I really think it's dope when your significant other is also your friend and not just a placeholder."
Okay, now let’s flip it. How would you like a woman to cater to you to make you feel loved and cherished?
She has to tell me the truth at all times, even if I don't want to hear it. I don't want you to tell me what I want to hear, tell me what I need to hear. Because it's ultimately going to make me better in some way. Which is what we're supposed to do. You know, at this point in my life, I'm all about substance. What are we doing for each other? Are we really growing? Are we really becoming better people? What is our end goal? Can you make me laugh? Can we joke around?
So how important is physical attraction and sexual compatibility to you when you're in a relationship?
I think those are two different things. I would consider myself a very sexual person, I think we all are. But some people are more in-tuned. I can see the sexy things in women, but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with her looks. I'm not big on a woman having to have certain features or anything like that--but if you give me that vibe that makes me feel it: then that's that. If I see it, you got it. Humility also turns me on, I don't like vain women. There are millions of women who have "the look"--what separates you from them?
Photo by Ian Maddux
"I'm not big on a woman having to have certain features or anything like that--but if you give me that vibe that makes me feel it: then that's that. If I see it, you got it."
That makes sense. What about deal-breakers? Where do you draw the line?
I'm very big on hygiene. I definitely like a well-groomed woman. Nails done, hair done. I'm definitely attracted to that. Because I'm not going to be walking around looking any kind of way. I guess those could be my deal-breakers because you don't really have to have money to be clean, know what I'm saying? That's just having some integrity for me.
What do you know now about love that you didn't know before?
Love isn't black and white. And I'm a black and white person, so that's tough. You have to be able to find the silver in it. And that's where I am now; I'm trying to find it. There's going to be moments where it is black and white, but if you can find that middle--then the relationship can work. Because love is very complex, it's not as simple as finding someone, getting married, [and] having kids.
Amen to that. Last thing before you go: what would you say are some of the biggest lessons you've learned thus far throughout your journey?
Hard work pays off--which I already knew. But especially in this industry because there's so much competition. There's a lot of slots, but there are only so many slots based off who's who and where you're trying to go in your career. I'm a very dedicated and ambitious person. I'm kind of a busy-body so being in LA and in this industry is great because I'm a hustler by nature. I like working with people and connecting the dots.
Also, you have to continue to be nice and humble because you never know who's going to become who. So many people have attitudes or they're disrespectful or they're ingenuine. But you just never know who's going to end up being your boss. And you have to strive to get better continuously and be fearless as an actor. A lot of people don't want to get out of their comfort zone--but that's just not me at all.
For more of Thomas, catch him on the BET anthology series Tales on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST. And be sure to follow him on Instagram.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports