A Woman of Many Talents: Actress and Advocate Rashida Jones

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SEATTLE — Rashida Jones holds many titles. She is actress Rashida Jones, starring in “Angie Tribeca” and “Parks & Recreation.” She is screenwriter Rashida Jones, writing the script for “Celeste & Jesse Forever” and currently penning the screenplay for “Toy Story 4.” She is Emmy-nominated director Rashida Jones for her documentary “Hot Girls Wanted.” She is also advocate Rashida Jones, working on behalf of a variety of causes and nonprofits focusing on issues ranging from Syrian refugees to protecting the world’s oceans.

Daughter of record producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton, Jones received the Actors Inspiration Award from the SAG-AFTRA Foundation on June 12 for her philanthropic work. Previous recipients of the award include Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The multi-talented celebrity received the Actors Inspiration Award in part for her activism with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-profit that aids refugees of conflict and natural disaster. In 2016, they provided assistance to 26 million people.

Aiding Refugees 

Jones has visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon and resettled refugees in the U.S. through the IRC. While in Lebanon, Jones collaborated with the IRC to create “Four Walls,” a virtual reality experience of the conditions faced by Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.

Using 360-degree filming, “Four Walls” tells the stories of these Syrian refugees. Jones, acting as both narrator and interviewer, shows the viewer the current crisis.

One out of every four people living in Lebanon today is a Syrian refugee. As there are no official refugee camps in Lebanon, most pay rent to live in run down homes. One featured family currently lives in what used to be an ancient palace but is now an unsafe home in which to live.

“Four Walls” also tells the story of children who must work on the street to make money. Jones shows an IRC center for children, a refuge from street life, where children can play and learn how to react to potentially dangerous situations.

Advocate Rashida Jones frequently uses her Instagram to highlight the work done by the IRC. On World Refugee Day, she shared a photo of herself playing with refugee children and called on her nearly one million followers to learn about the IRC’s work.

Protecting the World’s Oceans

Jones has also worked with Oceana, an international organization that focuses on ocean protection. Since its founding, Oceana has protected more than one million square miles of ocean waters.

The Borgen Project previously reported that protecting the world’s oceans is important for the impoverished. Information cited includes the fact that 95 percent of the 38 million fishermen and fish-farmers worldwide live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the World Bank has written that “For billions around the world – especially the world’s poorest – healthy oceans mean jobs, food and protection.”

Peacemaking 

Jones is also a board member of Peace First, an organization that aims to educate the next generation of peacemakers by teaching courage, compassion and collaborative leadership.

A 1997 graduate of Harvard University, Rashida Jones gave Harvard’s 2016 Class Day speech. In it, she spoke about her hope that the refugee crisis would be solved saying, “It will take a generation of compassion and empathy and action to make it happen.”

She also reflected on the roles she plays in her life including celebrity Rashida Jones, Harvard graduate Rashida Jones and advocate Rashida Jones. One of her main points to the Harvard graduates was that they had to “protect their instinct to care.”

This is an instinct that the SAG-AFTRA Foundation clearly believed Rashida Jones exemplified, awarding her their prestigious Actors Inspiration Award.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

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Sean Newhouse

Sean lives in Greensburg, PA. His academic interests include Political Science, Communication and Public Relations. Sean spent two weeks on Standing Rock Lakota Indian Reservation this past May.

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