It's not easy to stand out when your job is to walk three steps behind the most celebrated woman on television.But as Porsha,assistant toTaraji P.Henson上的饼干Empire,Ta'Rhonda Jones brings the real and is enchantingly relatable doing it.While everyone else is giving Shakespearean monologues and sweeping in and out of rooms swathed in silk and fur,Porsha wears jeans and talks and acts like any of us would if we somehow fell into the Lyons' fantasy world: slightly confused,a little unpolished,and more than willing to run after Cookie's shoe.Ahead of the drama's season two premiere tonight,we chatted with the rapper and lifelong Chi-town girl about,well,everything—and came away convinced that Jones could out-hustle Cookie if she happens to put her mind to it.You'll feel that way too when you hear what Jones has to say.
On the crazy audition process forEmpire:"I've been rapping since I was 10,and someone passed along to me that Terrence Howard was looking for female rappers.I thought maybe he was trying to come out with a little label.I spoke to the casting director on the phone,and she said,'We're looking for beautiful,talented young women.' I said,'That's me!I think I'm cute.' She emailed me some lines,but I didn't really go over them because I thought I was just going in to rap.So when I got there and they wanted me to read them,I had to memorize them in a minute.It turned out I was trying out for the Tiana role.After I recited the lines,the director just stared at me for a really long time.I'm like,'Dang it!I messed up!I ain't going to be with Terrence Howard today.' But then she said she had something else in mind for me,and she emailed me [Porsha] the next day.The rundown said 'ghetto bunny in her 20s.' It just tickled me."
On how Porsha went from bit player to main cast:"My character was only supposed to last three episodes—I was supposed to snitch on Cookie and that's it—but that all changed the first day I met [show creator] Lee Daniels.It was just all love.He said to me,'What's your name,little girl?' And I said,with so much attitude,'Porsha.' He fell back in his chair and started kicking,screaming,hollering 'Yes!That's what I'm talking about!'"
On her family:"I have eight siblings.All of our names start with a T.I'm in the middle—I'm the loud,wild one.My grandmother raised us.My mother wasn't in my life until I was about 16,and she finally moved in with us after working out some issues.It's hard living under one roof with eight siblings,your uncle,your granddad.My grandmother had [a lot of people] to take care of,so you couldn't always get new shoes when you needed them,you had to wait two months because it was someone else's turn."
On her work ethic:"My mother and grandmother taught me that no matter the obstacles,you got to keep it moving.You got to keep pushing.I moved out when I was 18 and started working at Jewel-Osco,a grocery store we have here,for $6.50 an hour.I moved up into the meat department,setting up the fish case,then I moved up to fish cutter.Meat wrapper.Then I became a butcher.Don't fool with me—I'm good with the knives.I took on a second job at City Sports as an assistant manager.我在一个夏令营工作。I was doing hair on the side.I was literally working from sunup to sundown.I felt so tired,and I was so young—I didn't get to enjoy my money.But I was just trying to get it by any means necessary.There was no sleep for me."