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Ferrum College News

Ferrum College Alum Dominates the Spotlight: Meet Jade Jones ’13

2024 Jade Jones Performance at Ferrum College April 24-99
Images from the performance by Ferrum College alumni Jade Jones

Actor, rapper, and Ferrum College alum Jade Jones ’13 (they/them) returned to campus April 24, 2024, for a concert and conversation with students, faculty, and staff in The Rex Stephenson Theatre.

They performed a variety of songs, and took questions throughout the performance about their time at Ferrum and the development of their career. “Ferrum has always been a second home to me. My sister also graduated from here, so it’s always been in my family. I’m excited to be back since this is where I established myself as a performer,” Jones said.

First year Music student Django Burgess was invited to accompany them on guitar for select songs including Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”. Burgess was excited to be playing with them. “I feel very honored that I was asked to accompany them for this. It was a wonderful experience for me. Being a professional musician, I know that I’ll encounter situations like this where I have to learn material before getting together with the performer. We ran through the songs a few times before, and it was great,” Burgess said.

Jones has been singing and performing for their entire life due to music being in their family. They started singing in the church choir, but learned about different types of music through their music education at Ferrum College and specifically their time with vocal instructor Emily Blankenship-Tucker. “I don’t think I’d be as well-rounded as an artist and performer if it wasn’t for her. I was able to embrace the uniqueness of my voice,” Jones said.

Jones also reflected on playing “Belle” at the Olney Theatre, since it was a defining role in their career. “It was done at a small regional theatre in Maryland, but it got international recognition. It was a really poignant moment for me because I didn’t realize how important it was for people to see themselves represented on stage. It really meant a lot for them, but at first, for me, it was just a job, but it turned into something really special,” Jones explained.

Jones never thought that they would go on to work professionally. “Being successful as a performer never crossed my mind because there were so few actors and performers in mainstream media that looked like me. I’ve always loved education, so I thought I’d be a theatre teacher since I had a great high school experience. It wasn’t until I graduated that I started looking at masters teaching programs, and I needed more experience. I auditioned for my first professional show, and my career took off from there. It was slow, but it was steady,” Jones shared.

Jones also spoke about not having a “dream role” like other actors might. “I don’t think the role has been written yet. People ask me that question all of the time, and I’ve gotten to play so many roles already. I live in New York City now, and I’m always working on new developments, new plays and new musicals, and there’s always new talent coming,” they said.

Jones is open to doing TV and movies if the role is right for them. “I audition for TV and movies all the time. There is a difference, but I would definitely do it,” Jones said.

Blankenship-Tucker was so happy to have Jones back on campus. “It feels so normal and wonderful to have Jade here. It just feels like Jade is home. I’m also very proud of the work that they’ve done, and I enjoy watching them so much. I’m grateful that our students get to see and hear Jade’s perspective as a performer because they don’t know what to expect, but Jade has been in their position before. I’m very proud of them,” she expressed.