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For Thomas Q. Jones, A Woman's Honesty Is Everything

This athlete turned actor is ready to take your heart and run with it.

#xoMan

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.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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