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Our news feeds these days are pretty reliably littered with examples of how easily kids of celebrities can be overshadowed, crushed or otherwise damaged by the weight of their parents’ fame. Rashida Jones, daughter of legendary and artistic force Quincy Jones and iconic actress Peggy Lipton rebelled from day one, becoming an avid reader, puzzle geek and serious student who declared her intention to attend Harvard at age six. Her status as a Mathlete also bears mention, just because, “Mathlete”. Once at Harvard (indeed, Ms. Jones does not mess around), her pursuit of the law soon turned to pursuits of a more theatrical nature, thanks to OJ Simpson and an Ivy League version of Mean Girls.
If being “daughter of” didn’t make life hard, it didn’t help much, either. She wasn’t great at auditions, she wasn’t white – or black – enough for casting directors, and roles were scarce. She was on the verge of quitting the biz for grad school when her serious, straight-man demeanor landed her a parts on The Office and eventually Parks and Recreation, where she was a skilled, subtle foil for the absurdity happening all around her.
Never quite comfortable on The Office and still not finding roles, she finally indulged her secret wish to be a screenwriter, penning the script for indie Celeste and Jesse Forever to show what she could do. A big studio’s offer to buy it validated her skill as a writer, but they feared she wasn’t box office enough to cast as its lead. She stuck to her guns, made if for under a million and starred in the film, of which Entertainment Weekly said, “it’s been a while since a romantic comedy mustered this much charm by looking this much like life.” Next? Disney hands her the keys to Toy Story 4, its most beloved franchise. In her spare time, she produced and took public criticism for the decidedly non-Disney Hot Girls Wanted, an insightful, concerning look at the porn industry. Oh yeah, and she’ll finally take on a lead TV role as an ass-kicking, cliché-wielding cop in the Steve Carell-produced farce Angie Tribeca.
Being a celeb kid does not make you special. Going to Harvard does not make you special. Being brave enough to throw out “the shittiest idea in the room”, standing up to rejection, developing confidence in your own voice and working your ass off, well, that makes you special. And an all-around quality human being. Rashida Jones may have been the smart girl we hated in school; now we want our daughters to be just like her. Jones will tell you she’s had a lot of luck. “With all due respect,” we disagree.