*“Jean of the Joneses” is Film Marks feature debut for writer-director Stella Meghie and star Taylour Paige, who plays 25-year-old Jean Jones, the center of a multi-generational, middle-class Jamaican-American family of strong-minded, stubborn yet loving women. Their lives come to an arresting stop when her estranged grandfather dies on the doorstep of the family’s brownstone during a Sunday dinner. Tensions rise and old conflicts come to a boil as Jean uncovers the family’s buried secrets.
Joined by co-stars Sherri Shepherd, Michelle Hurst, Gloria Reuben and Erica Ash, Jean’s aunts further complicate the family dynamics as Anne, the “baby” of the Joneses sisters, (played by Erica Ash), is unable to take responsibility for her decisions.
Tell us about your character Anne?
Erica Ash: I would say she’s pretty much Jean in about five years. She and Jean are closer to a sister relationship than an aunt-niece relationship. I think not necessarily just because of the chronological smaller gaps between he two of them but just because of the way that they relate to each other and where Anne is in her life. She’s in no position to help Jean figure out this whole love thing and life thing because she hasn’t figure it out. They sort of figure it out together.
You play Jamaican grandmother Daphne, describe her personality and relationship with her family.
Michelle Hurst: She is a Jamaican woman with three grown daughters, and one grown granddaughter, who is Jean of the title. And my three daughters are played by Sherri Shepherd, Gloria Reuben and Erica Ash. My granddaughter is played by Taylour Paige. I guess you could say, if you are of any kind of West Indian background, she is everybody’s mother. Everything you love about her, and everything you don’t quite love about her. She can love you with a slap and then hug you with a smile, and it’s all the same. She’s like every family you’ve ever known. Doesn’t matter if you’re Jamaican, Italian, Jewish… whatever. The way the mother animal in her is that this is how I take care of my children. This is how I show them love. May not look like love all the time, but this is how I show them love.
Does Daphne have favorites? What’s her relationship like with Jean compared to that with the other women of the Jones family?
Michelle Hurst: It’s exactly the same in that she treats everybody almost as if they’ve been bad children forever. The only people that she honestly showed some positive love to, which is not to say she’s mean or nasty, but the ones that she’ll put a big hug around [are] the little-little grandchildren. One of her daughters has two little people, and so it’s that backwards kind of love that all of us have experienced from a relative at some point in our lives.