April Parker Jones talks If Loving You Is Wrong, Supergirl, Her Natural Hair Journey and much more! Learn more here--->
We spoke to actress April Parker Jones. We talked shop. And we also discussed a topic that recently made the news, natural hair. If you missed it, California was the first state to pass actual legislation to ban discrimination based on natural hair. This interview was so on time!
It all began for April at the young age of five when she was in a stage play at, W.D. Hill Recreation Center, a family, and recreation center (similar to YMCA) in her hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Even at that young age, April was able to experience and embrace the feeling of freedom from performing on stage and feeding off the energy from the audience. April knew at five she wanted more. From there April performed in plays at church, middle school and high school. After high school, she attended North Carolina Central University where she initially majored in English and then changed her major to theater. Two years in, April made the decision to pursue her acting career full time and she moved to New York for a career in theater.
"All did not go as planned," for April. But in a way it very much did. April met her husband of twelve years, Joseph Jones, playing opposite him in the off-Broadway play, Plenty of Time. So, April had her plans/reasons for moving to New York and as it often happens; life had its own plans/reasons.
The new young couple was ready to take the pursuit of their dreams to another level. They were ready to chart a new course by taking a bold step for themselves, their family and their future. "After meeting Jay (Joseph), we decided to try this professional acting career in television and film for real. In 2005, we packed up everything we could in my little 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier. I, Jay and my oldest daughter, who was five years old at that time, drove cross country from Durham, North Carolina to Los Angeles, California. It took us about four days. I auditioned and landed roles here and there. Then in 2014, I booked my first series regular role in Tyler Perry's If Loving You Is Wrong. I have been toiling along and it has been an uphill, awesome journey." A four-day cross country road trip with a five-year-old. Whew. That is determination which is always rewarded.
From 2005 until 2014, while April was toiling along, she kept busy guest-starring in numerous hit television shows; ER, CSI: Miami, Scandal, Lost, NCIS and Masters of Sex. During that time she also had recurring roles in; The Young and the Restless, Jericho, 90210, Devious Maids and How to Get Away with Murder.
In Tyler Perry's If Loving You Is Wrong, April plays the lovable, down to earth, girlfriend every lady needs, very popular, Natalie Henning. We asked April what she thought makes Natalie so popular. "I think one of the reasons is her personality. Another reason why Natalie is so loved is that she is so relatable. She is relatable in her interaction with her friends, her children, and her love interest." Absolutely. I see much of myself, my family and friends in Natalie.
In 2018, April joined the cast of The CW's Network Supergirl as the tough, always by the book, Colonel Lauren Haley. Colonel Haley is described as a hard-lined career military officer whose actions are always driven by what is best for the country.
April and Colonel Haley are similar in that both are strong women. We asked April which woman she identified most with Natalie or Colonel Haley and why. "There are parts of me that are like Colonel Haley. And there are parts of me I wished was more like Colonel Haley. But overall, I identify more with Natalie. I think that is primarily because we are both moms. We both find strength and motivation from providing for our children and families. We are both protective of the people we love. So, yes I am more like Natalie. But I would like to say that Natalie and Colonel Haley are both strong women."
Okay, that's enough shop for now. Let's talk April Parker Jones the person. Thought-Provoking. Astute. Refreshing. This lady is more, much more than an actress. "I'm all about entertainment. But I'm also all about diversifying your portfolio. As an artist, I think it's important to have other talents that we can monetize. I'm fascinated by real estate. I want to provide affordable housing for people. I'm also focused on generating multiple streams of income. We don't talk about finance enough. We just think we work and it comes. There are ways to strengthen your cash flow other than entertainment or athletics. There is investing, pooling your resources, cooperative finance. Most of what I have learned has been self-taught. Most of this is not taught in school so I have had to learn on my own." Preach!
As we said at the beginning of this article, California was the first state to pass actual legislation to ban discrimination based on natural hair. I'm a natural hair lady and I'm always interested in hearing other ladies' journeys. This is April's. "It's been a process. It's an on-going process for natural hair. And for a black woman, it is a constant journey in our evolution. I say on-going because I still struggle. And when I say struggle I don't just mean in what style I'm going to wear. I'm mean struggling in acceptance. Struggling in believing you are beautiful just the way you are. My husband is supportive of me and is always reminding me of how beautiful I am. If there is anything I can impart to people is if you see a black woman taking the courageous step to wear her natural hair, go out of your way to say, 'I see you. You look beautiful. It means a lot. It really does.'"
These beliefs are birthed from April's own experience. This is April's second go-round wearing her hair natural. When she moved to New York, April figured no one knew her and she didn't know anyone. That anonymity gave her the courage to wear her hair natural. She was natural for about two years. At that time April was in a "toxic relationship" and the man she was dating told her, "You would be so much prettier if you wore your hair straight." Sigh.
For the next ten years, April wore a relaxer. There is nothing on God's green earth like a mother's love. It would be that love that would spur April to embrace her natural hair again. "When we were living in California my daughter came home, the same daughter who was five and made the trip with us, from middle school one-day literally in tears. She told me, 'None of the guys at school like me. They only like white girls or Spanish girls with straight or curly hair. Why does my hair have to be so "nappy"?''
Doesn't that just break your heart? April knew what she had to do. She went straight away to her girlfriend's house. April's girlfriend cut (with clippers) every inch of the relaxer out of April's hair. April wanted her daughter to see that she had hair just like her momma. There is nothing like a mother's love. "I made that leap of faith and that courageous step forward for my daughter and for myself. And I'm working more now in the industry with my natural hair than I did when it was relaxed. I'll never go back. I believe God created me this way, perfect in his image. This is my journey."
We also discussed April's commitment to health and fitness which can be a tie into the discussion of hair for black women. There has been much discussion and debate on the topic of black women, their hair and how it relates to health and fitness i.e. if it can be a deterrent sometimes for black women to work out. April and I discussed this subject in broad general terms as each black woman has their own individual story and journey. "It can be hair or something else external or internal. But whatever is standing in the way of our health and wellness and being more healthy, if we love ourselves, we are going to let that thing go. We have to start with health and wellness first. I believe that is the missing component that we don't put our health and wellness first. Here is the thing. It doesn't matter how much money you make. It doesn't matter what kind of house you live in, what kind of car you drive or what kind of bag you are carrying if you aren't healthy, none of it matters. A long healthy life is the goal."
April says it must start with how we feel about ourselves and more than anything we need to perpetuate self-love. Real true self-love, which isn't just our outer self, how we look to others, but also our inner self-love. This means also being healthy on the inside which includes our mind. We should be physically and mentally healthy. We must be open if we aren't doing okay and speak up about depression and about asking for help. And the rest of us must be open to helping others we know or who we come across that are in need.
Being open to helping others can come in many shapes and forms. Like our parents always told us you never know who is watching you. Sometimes just being you can be a beacon of light and hope to someone. April being herself is just one way she is a beacon and inspiring others to be true to themselves in whatever way they deem relevant. "I feel me wearing my natural hair is one way of me being of service to others. Somebody can turn on the TV and say, 'Wow look at this black woman with coarse hair on TV and she is so beautiful. I'm going to wear my hair like that too and embrace who I am. I have had those stories. A friend emailed me a couple of days ago. 'April my daughter just cut her hair because of you.' You know what that feels like? This is not in vain. I can be of service. It's bigger than me. It's way bigger than me." Awesome!
April is impacting people in her daily life while also very much looking forward to the future. And this lady has many plans! She sees action films, comedic work and writing (maybe even a book) in her future. Listen. April Parker Jones has only just begun! And we will be right here watching her soar and cheering her on!
April enlightening, encouraging and empowering!
Family, please check out April on If Loving You is Wrong & Supergirl!
April, keep doing and being your wonderful inspirational self!
I AM KP Smith