Tamala Jones has spent the past two decades making a name for herself in Hollywood and now her hard work is paying off in big ways.
Jones currently stars as Lanie Parish on ABC’s long-running series “Castle” and she plays a devious church lady in Lifetime’s upcoming original movie “Megachurch Murder.”
On a new episode of “Drinking With the Stars,” Jones told TheWrap she was especially grateful for cable networks such as Lifetime, which she says create much-needed opportunities for actresses like herself.
“Lifetime is amazing,” she said. “It’s really great for us, because it gives us a chance to still exercise our craft and get into something that’s really interesting that we possibly couldn’t do on any other network.”
The conversation then turned to the cable network’s recent slate of movies with predominantly African-American casts. Among those projects — “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” which starred Alexandra Shipp, “With This Ring” featuring Regina Hall and “Whitney” directed by Angela Bassett with Yaya DaCosta in the lead role.
“I love that African-American women are getting an opportunity to show their skill,” she said.
But Jones, who is both an accomplished actress and producer, lamented that much more needs to be done.
“We need more ethnic leads all the way around,” she continued. “I would like the see the rainbow of people being able to come in and really show their culture, show that yeah, we have talent over here too. I think that that’s part of being in America. We have to show who’s here.”
As for diversity in feature films — and the controversy surrounding this year’s crop of all white Academy Awards acting nominees — Jones admitted she wasn’t surprised by the lack of people of color nominated.
“We’ve always had to work harder,” she said.
But she acknowledged that there are other factors at play, too. “I’m not pointing the finger or making judgement towards anyone, but I feel like we have to work harder in promoting what we do,” she said.
“If other big movies have screeners coming out, then we need to make sure that we have screeners going out so that we can be nominated,” Jones said in an apparent reference to the botched awards campaign for the critically acclaimed film “Selma,” during which certain guilds didn’t receive screeners in time for the film to be considered for awards.
“We gotta play extra hard by those rules. And once we do, we’re there,” she added.
Jones can next be seen in “Megachurch Murder” Saturday at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.