Earlier this week, Yolonda Ross, who plays Jada on Showtime’s “The Chi,” sat down with Build NY to discuss the success of the series, her overall career, and her early path from middle America to New York City. Ross was very open about what it takes to carve out a career as a woman, and especially a Black woman, in Hollywood. Below are five things she revealed that you probably didn’t know about the award-winning actress/writer/producer.
STARTED IN THE MIDDLE: To start, it was a lovely coincidence that Ross and Build host Brittany Jones-Cooper were able to bond about one of the most important things in both their lives: the fact that both are from Omaha, Nebraska and their careers landed them in the entertainment capitol of the world, New York City.
JUST LIKE MUSIC: One of the more interesting facts Ross dispensed during the interview is that her background is in music, so she breaks down each script she reads as if it were sheet music. Each character is a different song, she confessed, although her character Jada from The Chi is so close to her as a person, there is no artist or song that she conjures when reading those lines.
MY FIRST LOVE: Ross also noted the coincidence that the studio where Build shoots is the old Tower Records building, and the fashion school she attended when first landing in New York, Tobe Colburn, was located right next door. It was while working in fashion that she landed her first extra role on Saturday Night Live, which led to her first union card and a pursuit of acting.
CRAFT SERVICE: Ross did not enroll in acting school once she was sure she wanted to be an actress. To hone her craft, she watched and studied different actors that conveyed a truthfulness in their portrayals, citing paying attention to human behavior as the key to being convincing on screen and on the page.
A BEAST-LY DEBUT: It was while working at the now-defunct Tower Records that Ross met graphic artist Cey Adams, who happened to be roommates with Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz. Adams asked Ross to appear in the Beastie Boys music video “Fight For Your Right to Party.” It was one of the first credits of her young career, and led to other video appearances and eventually to a long string of film and television work. A dope debut, for sure.
THE CHI airs Sundays at 10pm ET on Showtime.