Tuesday, January 22, 2008


After nearly two years, former Girlfriends star, Jill Marie Jones is finally clearing up some of the rumors regarding her sudden departure as Toni Childs Garrett on the number one Africa-American show. And what she says just may surprise you. I know it surprised the hell out of me. Jones spoke exclusively and candidly to Essence.com and dished revealed the real reason she decided to leave the show, her relationships today with her former co-stars and Girlfriends creator, Mara Brock Akil, and the snide and jive-ass comments Tracee Ellis Ross' made in an magazine article after Jones left the show. The Dallas Darling also lets us in on what she's doing now and IF she plans on returning to Girlfriends in the near future...which I hope she does, because Lord knows they need her desperately right about now. But then again, seeing as how this is the show's last season...and with the writers on strike, unfortunately, we may never see Toni Childs Garrett grace the small scene again.

Essence.com: And let me tell you, Toni Childs is sorely missed.
Jill Marie Jones:
It was so much fun playing Toni Childs. I don�t walk that walk in my daily life. I like to think that I'm a pretty nice person, but to be able to play the diva and say some of the things those types of characters say was a lot of fun.

Essence.com: Do you miss being a part of Girlfriends?
I do miss Girlfriends. I don't know if people know this, but Girlfriends was only my third audition. I booked my first audition for City Guys, a Saturday morning show. My second audition I didn't book and then Girlfriends was my third, so you have to understand that I still very green to this industry and there was the whole film world that I didn't know. So when I left Girlfriends after six years, there was just so much I wanted to know and do. I've just been having a ball having opportunities to do movies. It's just been great.

Essence.com: Nothing wrong with spreading your wings, which brings me to your departure from Girlfriends. Tracee Ellis Ross said in an interview that the reason you didn't return was because the cast did not receive the huge raise they were expecting. Is that true?

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Tracee actually told Vibe Vixen magazine (Fall 2006 issue): "In order for the show to come back, the cast was not going to get the huge raises we dreamed of. So when the calls went out about the new contracts, Jill gave a quick 'no.' It was her decision. Clearly, we all wanted to come back to Girlfriends as we know it. However, like anything, the show is bigger than one person. The show is called Girlfriends, not Jill and Friends." Bitter, Tracee?


J.M.J: First of all, let me tell you why I left. I left because I wanted to do movies. My contract was up after my sixth season and people forget that just like the network can choose whether or not to renew your contract, I can also choose and evaluate whether or not I want to come back. My actor's chair that has Girlfriends and my name on it, you know the director's chair? Well, on the very last day of my sixth season, I told them to grab my chair and put it in my car for me. Then we had to negotiate a contract that doesn't happen until they decide that your show is going to be picked up. You end the show in like February and then they don't decide if they are going to pick you up because the upfronts until May. So why would I take my chair if I thought I was coming back? Believe you me, I would tell you. I've never made a decision based on money. I was on the show for six years and I think that's a good run. There's so much more I want to do in my career and so much more I want to know and learn, but my departure definitely had nothing to do with money.

Essence.com: So were you aware that this was the explanation given for your departure?
Someone sent that article to me a long time ago when it first came out, and you know, I love Tracee, I love Golden, I love Persia, I love Reggie. I really do feel like I was in the University of Girlfriends. I learned so much from them. I mean, where I started on Girlfriends and where I ended up is like night and day and that's because of the great cast I had to learn from. It's difficult when something has been set up for six years and then something changes. I didn't get upset about the comment. It's all good.

Essence.com: That's great to hear. I think most folks speculate that you all had beef because you never responded. But that's not the case is it?
Well, no one asked me a question. I don't believe in adding grease to fire. If I were doing an interview about something I'm working on and someone wanted to ask me something, I have no problem answering it. But for me to make a statement or a rebuttal, to me it's just silly.

Essence.com: Well, the second part of Tracee's quote expressed her sadness that after six years of working together you didn't share your decision to leave with the cast. Is that true?
I'll be completely honest: I just didn't really. I wish I had a better answer or could tell you that I even thought about it. Maybe it was a lapse of judgment, maybe I should have called� I didn't really think about it. When my call came in to say, "We're going to pick up Girlfriends for another season, does Jill want to come back?" My management and I were like, "Thank you, but no thank you." So maybe I should have made phone calls, but I didn't really think about it. When the cast first came back for their seventh season, I sent them all, individually, every single person of Girlfriends a big bouquet of flowers. I didn't leave Girlfriends because I was upset or wanted more money. It really wasn't that deep. It's so disappointing that because I wanted to dream bigger or experience something new, it received all this hoopla and drama around it. I really just wanted to do movies. It really was just that simple.

Essence.com: Do you still keep in touch with the cast?
I've talked to them individually at different times. I have so much love for all of them. But are we hanging out and having some wine and cheese on a Saturday night? No. Do I think of them as friends? Absolutely. In a way, I think of them as extended family, like cousins. I've talked to them individually throughout this, but I don't talk to them on a regular basis. I wish them all well and I still watch the show.

Essence.com: Would you ever return to the show?
You know anything is possible; it just has to make sense in terms of the direction I'm going in my own career.

Essence.com: Thank you for setting the record straight because people always want to pit Black women against one another.
Yeah we do that and it's disappointing, especially when it's Black women, and I don't like that. I just had lunch with Mara [Brock Akil, the show's creator]; we met for a coffee like a month and a half ago. When I say we're all good over here, we're good.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Akil has also had to deal with the sudden departure of Jones, who played real estate agent Toni before deciding to exit the show following last season over reported contract issues. At the end of last season, Toni had a falling out with best friend Joan, played by Tracee Ellis Ross. Jones’s departure, and her refusal to come back for a farewell appearance, has forced Akil to get creative with the storylines. "I would love for her to come back, but Jill doesn't want to return,” says Akil. “I don't know 100% why she made this decision. She didn't tell me. All she said when we talked was that she felt it was time for her to move on. The door is not closed. We've asked her to come back and have offered different ways for her to return. But I completely wish her well. There's no drama involved."

Essence.com: Well how does it feel to be immortalized in Kanye West's song The Glory from his album Graduation when he says "House on the hill two doors from Tracee Ross and I'm asking about her girlfriends yea the dark skined one"?
J.M.J.: (Laughs) Really? That's really cool. I wasn't aware that he references me, I actually have that album and I'll have to listen to it again.

As for Jones movie career, she's been busy breathing life into new diverse characters on the big screen with the same fervor and diva-next-door appeal in three new flicks. In the straight-to-DVD indie dramedy Redrum, she plays a meek housewife turned blood-thirsty serial killer; in Major Movie Star she gets tough and dirty with Jessica Simpson as a single mom who joins the army for a promise of a better future; and in The Comeback she plays a school teacher who mentors a young female student who has joined the town's football team.



Anthony said...

Damn! This is my all time favorite sister. She is in my Top Ten definitely. I would completely shut the game down for her. I only watched for her, Tracee and William in that order. I will miss seeing her chocolate factory work on the that undeserving set that didn't give black "Girlfriends" their raises but gave white "Friends" theirs. Please. Shame on Kelsey Grammer and crew. Racism!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Girlfriends became sad to me when darnell and maya broke up but it was the bomb again when they got back together at darnell new wedding with the other girl

Anonymous said...

The show was really good. It lost some of its flare when Jill left. I kept watching it though, but i sorely missed Jill. They all had great style of which i took note of. I especially love William. I wish Jill had stayed and i hoped for more seasons. I still watch the reruns every chance i get.

Anonymous said...

Didn't care for "Toni Childs" now Joan Clayton. .. I was there for her and william and ofcoirse mya/darnell and lynn..Nuy didn't care too much for darnell. He wasn't the best actor. Flex made a great on screen husband for mya but alas, he had to keave to film his own show.

I'm actually watching this show now. Episode when Mya calls Monica's baby hers.. wish they did a girlfriends movie or one more season. . I need closure..lol

Anonymous said...

The show didn't work without "Toni"! I agree that the zing left with her exit, which I thought was crazy, but being raised where I mostly thought I connected more with "Joan and Lynn" types, you go Jill, and all the sucess ib the world to you

Anonymous said...

I love this show I think of all of them as my tru girlfriends they are the best...they need to bring the show back with everyone in it...

Sandy said...

If they all came back it would be a success. Shows like these live forever. One of the great ones. You guys really should get together and do it...

cookie said...

I just loved girlfriends ever since it started and i really don't have anything bad to say i actually still watch the reruns when its on and hope that one day they start a new season. Would love it

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I love the show. Just ordered the complete DVD box set. Agree to show going down hill w/out Toni Childs. She was my favorite. I think at this moment w/ the time that has passed a movie would be great. Just like how sex and the city did.

Anonymous said...

Flex was a horrblie actor on girlfriends

Gina Moffett said...


Anonymous said...

Toni Childs was simply the character you loved to hate, hated to love, but LOVED to hate! This article puts the actress who played her in a different light in my mind though.

keva kinsler said...

This article confirms that she let us ALL down by walking away the way she did. I have yet to see a trailer of her starring in anything on the big screen. That show was a big part of my life, watching made me happy, even became Realtor, inspired by Jill's successful character. She disappointed me greatly by leaving, she was apart of something really special. It would not have killed her to let the show run it's coarse. She was selfish and the reason the show died. All these years later, I'm still upset and deeply disappointed in you, Jill Marie Jones.

anonymous said...

My favorite was mainly Maya, but I really liked them all, I wish Jill Marie Jones would stop being selfish and give everybody some closure...

Anonymous said...

Get a grip man. The women wanted to move on, if that makes her selfish then you are really being pathetic. If you felt its time to move on In your life wouldnt you make necessary movements? grow the hell up man and get over it!

Anonymous said...

I saw somebody say the show still comes on is this a new season or old reruns?

Anonymous said...

Reruns...BET still plays the show. Watching right now :)

Anonymous said...

People said she left ed because she got pregnant

Anonymous said...

Yep flex was terrible lol( did you see man in the mirrow with flex OMG he did not fit the part.

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