Rashida Jones captured our hearts as Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation, but there is so much more to her than that. Like, she had a secret baby with boyfriend (and Vampire Weekend frontman) Ezra Koenig. And she does amazing work as a political activist, especially with the Time’s Up movement. Anyway, let’s get into 18 things to know about Rashida!
1. Her parents are a star duo: Peggy Lipton, an actress, and Quincy Jones, a record producer. Her mom is Jewish and her dad is black, and she was raised in Reform Judaism.
2. In an episode of the celebrity ancestry show, Who Do You Think You Are?, she learned about relatives who were killed during the Holocaust. Rashida said, “I’m lucky to be alive. There’s so many ways I could not be here, being a descendant of slaves [on her father’s side] and now on my mum’s side now, knowing, looking at that lopsided family tree… I feel like a miracle.”
3. Growing up in Los Angeles, she always celebrated the Jewish holidays, explaining “We always celebrated the High Holidays. I did fast in high school for Yom Kippur and attend services. We always went to seder for Passover. I really liked the cultural and the familial side of Judaism. It was always the most comfortable place for me, making time for family and community.”
4. At age 10, she left Hebrew School and never had a bat mitzvah. “I left Hebrew school when I was 10 because the girls were kind of snotty and I hadn’t gone back to exploring it. Being biracial and Jewish, I’m kind of given permission to explore whatever culture goes along with that. If I were just black and not Jewish I wouldn’t have had that entrée.”
5. At age 17, she wrote a letter to Tupac Shakur after he critiqued her parents’ interracial marriage. (He said, “All he does is stick his dick in white bitches and make fucked up kids.”) As Quincy said years later, “My daughter kicked his ass, boy. Rashida, she was in Harvard then: ‘Motherfucker, you wouldn’t be where you are if they hadn’t done what they did.'”
Her response is worth a read:
Eventually, Tupac and Quincy made amends, and Tupac started dating Rashida’s older sister, Kidada. (He was engaged to Kidada when he died.)
6. Rashida went to Harvard University, graduating in 1997, where she studied religion and philosophy. She returned in 2016 to give the Class Day Speech:
7. She is very good friends with fellow Jewish actress and Harvard grad, Natalie Portman. As Kveller wrote, “Aside from having the whole Jewish actress thing in common, Portman and Jones are also both activists for women’s rights in Hollywood and in general.”
8. She considered ditching acting before being cast in The Office in 2006. She never thought she wanted to be an actress. “In elementary and high school, I never considered acting as a profession. I wanted to be president, or a judge, or a lawyer. In my weird, tightly wound mind, it didn’t feel legitimate enough to aspire to be an actor.”
9. In 2007, she told a reporter, “My boyfriends tend to be Jewish and also be practicing… I don’t see it as a necessity, but there’s something about it that I connect with for whatever reason.” (Her current boyfriend, Ezra Koenig, is indeed a Jew!)
10. She welcomed a son named Isaiah Jones Koenig in August with Ezra.
12. She’s been involved in the music industry, and in a bunch of music videos, including Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman,” Drake’s “Nice for What,” Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise,” and Jay Z and Beyoncé’s “Family Feud.” She also directed the music video for Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave.” (As she told NPR, she’s a “music nerd.”)
13. She directed a Netflix documentary about her dad Quincy Jones (titled Quincy) that premiered earlier in 2018.
14. After Parks & Rec, she’s starring in her own sitcom: Angie Tribeca, a police procedural.
15. She has written and produced a lot with her writing partner, Will McCormack, including Celeste and Jesse Forever and a new TV show Kevin Can F*** Himself. (Fun fact: Will is engaged to Jewish actress Emily Arlook.)
16. Celeste and Jesse Forever was her first screenplay (she also starred in it alongside NJB Andy Samberg). On starting to write, Rashida said, “I just said to Will, ‘Let’s just sit down and write every day and if something great comes out of it, great. If it sucks, nobody ever has to see it. But if we have something let’s see if it’s good and let’s give it to friends.'”
17. Why did she get into writing and producing? “I felt replaceable as an actress. You walk into a room, and they’ve already decided whether you’ve got the part based on your hair. There are people born to act, but I play parts which are just versions of me. Writing is more of a back and forth conversation. That, for me, feels better.”
18. Let’s end on a happy note: Rashida’s Instagram is filled with amateur dance videos and they’re so great. Enjoy: