By: ANETTA NOWOSIELSKA
A magnetic force on and of the field, Thomas Q. Jones traded in his career as NFL’s all-time leading running back for Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and the Kansas City Chiefs for the stage. Known for roles that highlight the characters’ vulnerabilities, this Miamian continues to push the envelope of what it is to play hard of the field.
Let’s start with challenges. How have you overcome them? Some may assume I was afforded opportunities in Hollywood due to my NFL career. However, some may not know that I took four years of acting classes, and I’ve studied with Ivana Chubbuck, premier acting coach, in her acting studio in LA. If you keep your head down and remain focused and humble, the work you put into this business will speak for itself.
How has your acting career become therapeutic? Coming from a four-year college football career and a l2-year career in the NFL, I’ve been trained and encouraged to play in a violent environment. To have a job with longevity in that sport must be a little irrationality. When I was introduced to acting, I was able to find other outlets outside of football to express my emotions. I could move past traumas and triumphs and put those into the work.
Where do you connect with Omar Johnson, whom you play on the TV dramedy Johnsons, and where do you find his behavior problematic? Omar is an excellent example of a black man who loves his family. He has faced some challenges and has been in situations where he hasn’t felt seen or heard, resulting in him making some poor decisions.
As a black man, I know what that looks like as far as not always feeling validated when you feel something or have something to say. We all lose our way at times, and Omar has found himself in that space a few times on the show. Because I can relate, I can take an empathetic approach, allowing me to play the character with honesty and integrity.
Speaking of acting, what roles do you hope to tackle? The end goal is to be respected for my work and my performance. I would love to move away from some of the stereotypical roles and play characters who would require me to be a completely different person. As a former athlete, I have experienced being typecasted for different projects and understand that aspect. But I know there is more I can do besides being the athletic-looking guy on screen.
As you watch athletes today, what do you wish they took from your story arc? This is an excellent question because just last year, I executive produced a series on Amazon Prime called ‘Life After.’ It features l2 retired NFL players and what their lives are like post-football. They all have done some pretty impressive things and started new careers after football. I wish for the up-and-coming athletes to have dreams and aspirations outside professional sports. I’d want them to know that sports, particularly football, don’t have to ultimately define their person, but it’s just a piece of their story.
What’s next for you? My producing partner (Deji Le’ray) and I are working on a few projects through our production company Midnight Train Productions. Our goal is to continue creating dope content that pushes the Black community forward positively. As for myself, I’m looking forward to staying busy and landing my next significant role