Jasmine Cephas Jones went from 'Hamilton' to '#FreeRayshawn' and is making her own history
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/2/2020, 1:45 p.m.
By Lisa Respers France, CNN
(CNN) -- "#FreeRayshawn" feels timely and yet not to one of its stars.
The Quibi series, about a young Black man named Rayshawn who turns to social media in an effort to save his life after an encounter with police, comes amid ongoing discussion and debate about mistreatment of African Americans by law enforcement.
Jasmine Cephas Jones plays Rayshawn's wife, Tyisha. She told CNN that while the series may feel "of the moment," in reality there have been many moments.
"We've been talking about this in our music, in television, in TV for such a long time," Cephas Jones said. "I think people are talking about this subject in a way [now] that it's kind of opened something."
She added that because of the pandemic, "there's no distractions and people have to start to look at themselves in a way that they've never probably had to."
"When such situations like this arise and people are going out and protesting, even in the middle of a pandemic, something has to change," she said.
The cast, which includes Stephan James as Rayshawn and Laurence Fishburne as Lt. Steven Poincy, had no idea a year ago when they were filming that their series would be released during a global health crisis, but also in the midst of a racial reckoning.
Cephas Jones, who originated the roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in the Tony-award winning musical "Hamilton," lept at the chance to work on "#FreeRayshawn," in part, she said, because of her admiration for its executive producer, Antoine Fuqua.
She also welcomed the opportunity to explore the damage police brutality can do to an entire family.
"This is a story that is, that is close to me and that I understand cause it could be me, it could be my father, it could be any one of my cousins and anyone of my friends," she said. "I did everything in my power and literally took a piece of me and left it on that set, to try to tell the story right. To try to really bring Tyisha to life and the forefront with her story and what she's going through."
Cephas Jones is nominated for an Emmy for outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series for her performance. (Her co-stars James and Fishburne are also nominated.)
If that weren't thrilling enough, her father, Ron Cephas Jones, has also been nominated for an Emmy this year for his work on "This Is Us."
It's one of the rare instances a father and daughter have both been nominated in the same year. Jasmine Cephas Jones said it's been a special time for her and her dad.
"One of the reasons why I'm acting is because of him and he's taught me a lot," she said. "He's a great dad, but he's also a great mentor and to be able to have this moment it's like full circle for me."
The actress is also enjoying the positive reception of the film version of "Hamilton," which was recently released on Disney+.
"Hamilton" brought her acclaim and also the love of her life, former co-star and now fiance, Anthony Ramos.
The couple pushed their wedding back to next year because of the pandemic. They've been spending their time together in quarantine making music.
"Al ot of playful and funny singing," Cephas Jones said. "Our dog Nala, every time I sing, she starts to sing as well. So even our dog sings, which is hilarious."
There's been a lot going on in 2020, but Cephas Jones said she is thankful to have friends and family who are both healthy and close by.
"Whenever I get to kind of have some human contact with my friends or have a drink or have dinner with them, in the safest way possible, I think that's what I'm most grateful [for], that I'm still able to do that in this pandemic."