EXCLUSIVE: ‘Empire’ Star Ta’Rhonda Jones Wants You to Lie and Steal
Porsha, Porsha, Porsha.
When a woman like Ta’Rhonda Jones enters the room, her presence is felt before she is seen. Her style game is through the roof, which certainly doesn’t hurt, and the confidence that darts from her deep brown eyes is a laser beam that cuts through all who walk in her path.
However, Jones’ self-assured nature only truly began to flourish upon finding her place among the company of Empire Entertainment.
Jones is the boss of her aesthetic in her role on Lee Daniels’ tour de force Empire, styling her own wardrobe as requested by Mr. Daniels himself. “Everything that you saw on the show came out of my own closet,” Jones told Celebuzz in an exclusive interview. “Lee wanted me to be as authentic as possible. I think he loved my authenticity.”
“When he saw me in the set as my role, he said, ‘No, no, no–Who’s been doing your make-up this whole time?’ I said, ‘Myself.’ He said, ‘Well that’s who is going to do it from now on.'”
As the only actress on set to outfit her own character, Jones appreciates the value on personal style across the Empire cast. “Fashion is crazy because you don’t know what’s trendy or what’s not trendy where Empire lets you know that it’s okay to have your own individuality,” says Jones. “Every character on the show has their own individuality. No one on the show is almost similar or is wearing the same trendy clothes.” Jones, who portrays Cookie Lyon’s spitfire assistant Porsha Taylor, knew that she wanted to be a performer from an early age.
“It didn’t matter if it had to do with rapping, acting, dancing, whatever. I just knew that I wanted to entertain.”
In fact, her rapping talents manifested into her role on Empire when her brother called to explain that Terrence Howard was searching for female rappers aged in their twenties. An audition for the role of Tiana led to a second, separate audition for her fated spot as Porsha.
Jones continues to rap, having just released a new single called “Want to Change”.
On the rise of becoming a triple-threat in acting, music, and fashion, Jones’ focus is grounded in establishing herself as a role model for young women. “I feel like in this day and age everybody is doing something to make you feel beautiful or fit in. I just want to let girls know that I’ve been there, I’m still there. It’s okay to be you. Those are my two words of advice: Be you.”
“I live by two words in life, which are ‘lie’ and ‘steal’. Lie down your own rules and steal every opportunity that comes your way.”
Celebuzz (momentarily) traded in Jones’ chic sequins to marvel in the equally dazzling mind of Empire’s quipping power woman to discover where her confidence comes from.
Celebuzz: When do you feel the most beautiful?
Ta’Rhonda Jones: All the time! Every single day, every second, every hour. But you know, it took me until I got the role on Empire to realize that I could be myself. I had been somebody that I wasn’t trying to be because I felt like I had to fit in, so I had to put on this façade for people. But for the very first time in my life in the Empire casting room I was myself and I was accepted for being me.
CB: As you were growing up and trying to find your confidence, who were the people in your life that told you that it was okay to be you?
TJ: No one. I had to instill that in myself. I had not a mentor, I had no guidance. My sisters and brothers, we’re really close, and I was the one who was always, “You gotta do this!” I don’t call it a gift.
“I think it’s something you gotta work with.”
HOW A MAJOR SETBACK TURNED INTO A MAJOR COMEBACK!!!🙌🙌🙌 Click the link in my bio to read how #Empire changed my LIFE! #WayUp #IfeelBlessed A photo posted by I am Ta’Rhonda Jones (@tarhondajay) on
CB: What is the greatest message that society can take away from Empire?
TJ: Mainly empowerment. Lee [Daniels] wasn’t afraid to touch certain issues on the show. Some people aren’t bold enough to say, ‘We’re gonna talk about homosexuality.’ You don’t see that a lot. I think that it made a lot more people feel comfortable to come out and say, “I am who I am. Accept me as I am.” “It’s okay If you’re gay. It’s okay if you have a dysfunctional family. It’s okay to be you. Just be you.”
CB: What is it about Empire that makes these kinds of discussions accessible to a general audience?
TJ: It’s hard to say. There’s so many fresh faces on the show, so maybe it gives people hope. Especially for people who have been trying to follow their dreams for a really long time. The actors and characters on the show are trying to pursue their dreams of becoming a singer or a big rapper, so I think that people can relate.
CB: As Cookie’s assistant and a fashionista, help a girl out. What are the essentials that you believe every woman should have in her wardrobe?
TJ: I don’t do fur, I don’t do heels, but I do think that every woman should own a good pair of heels. Other than that, you can have whatever you want in your closet as long as you own what you wear. It doesn’t matter what you wear or how much it costs. I think that’s the most important thing is to be confident.
“You just gotta own it.”
Catch Ta’Rhonda Jones in Empire on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on FOX.