May 15, 2000

HEARS VOICES. A Homeless Black woman. A Russian mother, married to a Black man, talking about her daughter’s cornrows. A homophobic Italian cop. A young girl in the projects who’s “the only virgin left in her building.” Jones, 25, the daughter of a black father and a mother of European and Caribbean descent, uses her one woman show. Surface Transit, to get the voices out her head and into the world. “We all know people like this,” she says. “Some of us are people like this.”

On stage Jones is a gifted impersonator, shape-shifting from one character to the next. Her work is flavored with hip-hop, but she enjoys throwing curves: she ends her show speaking in a British accent that leaves the audience wondering whether she’s from Brixton or Brooklyn. She was actually born in Baltimore, and started participating in poetry slams at New York City’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Her poems became monologues, and they in turn became Surface Transit, which Jones has been honing since 1998, and will start performing in June at New York City’s P.S. 122. It’s a very public way for her to sort out the multicultural themes of her life. “I’m Heinz 57 sauce,” says Jones, who also has a role in the upcoming Spike Lee film Bamboozled.“You get women’s-history month, black history month, diversity week—I’m everything.”

Photo by Andre Lambertson-Saba