Actor Orlando Joneshas made a lucrative career out of actin’ the fool. Whether it was on “MADtv” spoofing Andre 3000 and OJ Simpson, in commercials telling people to “make 7Up yours” or getting aliens pulled out of his ass in “Evolution” the Alabama native knows a thing or three about getting a laugh.
So it was surprising to him when an April Fool’s blog that he wrote for The Huffington Post became the talk of Hollywood. Dressed in white-face as an old woman, Jones wrote a ‘story’ that he would be replacing Tyler Perry as his popular character Madea in an up-coming film. Timed on April 1st in the Huffington Post Comedy section, it was a pretty obvious prank. However, a lot of people weren’t laughing. In fact, they were hopping mad.
“We put up an old picture from this movie we were going to do like ten years ago with me as a white woman,” Jones tells TheUrbanDaily.com. “I decided not to do the movie for a lot of different reasons. We sent it out and people don’t read. I was dressed as a white woman. I tagged it April Fool’s. But people was heated!”
Almost two weeks after it ran, even a statement from Mr. Perry declaring that the prank was “not true and not funny” failed to quell the chatter.
Watch the video for his full reaction to the April Fool’s Joke drama.
If nothing else the controversy thrust Jones back into the public eye at the most opportune of times. Despite being quite active on television, Jones hasn’t been seen on the big screen in some time, leading some to ask where he’s been. However, he has recently launched a digital graphic novel “Tainted Love” and it was just announced that he would be starring in a new Fox series, “Sleepy Hollow.”
“The entertainment business has changed so much,” he says of his absence from movie screens. “Distribution changed. What sort of movies they were pushing changed. It became about tent pole movies like ‘Avatar,’ ‘Avengers’ etc. And traditionally there have been very few African-Americans to occupy a space in those movies. Somebody who I have a tremendous amount of respect for like Jamie Foxx, up until ‘Django Unchained’ he hadn’t done a studio movie in five years–and he has an Oscar. That’s how much the business has shifted on so many levels. And if you care about the things you put out in the world as a Black man there’s certain things you’re not gonna do.”
After making his mark on “MADtv” and in films like “Drumline” Jones began to ponder his next move and what kind of legacy he was leaving behind.
“My daughter was 2 1/2 years old and I was like it’s time for me to grow up,” says Jones. “Time for people to have a clearer sense of me and what I’m about. So I told my managers to pump the breaks for a minute. Where am I going? That was about four years ago.”
The result was “Tainted Love,” a visually sharp, cutting edge story of Black Barry, an underpaid bag man and new father who is trying to survive this spinning ball of dirt with his lady love Jezebel Jackson (Deanna Russo).
“I’m a nerd. We may not look like you expect us to look. Might not look the way you expect us talk but there are lot of Black dudes that are nerds into graphic novels and comic books but we still checkin out dat ass,” Jones explains. ” So ‘Tainted Love’ came into my mind. I wanted to tell this story about people who other people have given up on. Like people in my family. They’ve done some crazy stuff but I love them. So I created the first digital graphic novel.”
In addition to an action film with Jean Claude Van Dam in the can, Jones will be flexing his dramatic chops as Detective Irving in the upcoming FOX series, “Sleepy Hollow.”
“It’s massive. I like to think I’ve had a decent career. But I’ve never been involved with nothing like this before,” he says. “It’s game changing. Nicole Beharie, who is in “42,” is in it. When is the last time you saw two African-American leads in a network show, let alone a show of this size?”
Action movies, graphic novels and headless horsemen? Where are the jokes? That’s kind of the point.
“It’s not what people are accustomed to seeing from me,” Orlando Jones says with a knowing glance. “But neither is ‘Tainted Love.’ I’ve been super blessed but it’s time for me to reintroduce myself.”