‘Castle’ Star Tamala Jones Talks Near Death Experience and Strong Roles For Women of Color

The brain aneurysm survivor talks purpose and being a successful actress

Tamala Jones (Image: File)
Tamala Jones (Image: File)

For the past seven seasons, the talented Tamala Jones has been gracing our television screens as Medical Examiner Dr. Lanie Parish on the highly successful ABC show Castle. At the age of 20, Jones made her feature film debut in How to Make an American Quilt, then quickly began filling television roles in The Parent Hood  and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opposite Will Smith.

[Related: Carla Harris On Setting Boundaries in the Workplace and Advice to Younger Self]

The in-demand actor has amassed impressive credits to her resume, and her work in beloved feature films like The Wood, and The Brothers, catapulted her to mainstream success. A fierce combination of funny, sweet, and beauty, Jones has cemented herself as a leading lady in Hollywood.

A very strong connection to God and a supportive family base has contributed to Jones’  success. Her grandmother, who Jones considers her best friend, has been a constant inspiration throughout her career. “She has always told me that I can achieve anything I want as long as I believe, work hard, and never give up,” she says. “To this day, she is on me about staying clear, focused, and remaining prayerful and grateful. A lot of people get this success and lose their graciousness. They forget that it didn’t have to happen and it is a blessing that it did. No matter what, the success [is] for that individual.”

Today, now more than ever, sharing her blessings with others comes as second nature. During the busiest time of her life in Hollywood, Jones discovered that God has a funny way of slowing you down and making you reassess your life. “When I experienced a brain aneurysm at 23 years old, I did not want to talk about it. I was very angry, embarrassed, and felt that it would [adversely]affect me getting more jobs if people knew I had health issues.”

Challenged by this near death experience, Jones became more alive and awake to areas of her life that she needed to grow in. “I began to feel that the reason I was angry was because I didn’t talk about it,” says Jones. “I said to myself that yes, I do love my career, but this is not it. My other mission in life is to do exactly what my grandmother said. I have to give back and share my experiences, whether they are good or bad. I felt talking about the brain aneurysm and what happened to me leading up to the day it happened would help people if they have the same symptoms. I am working on bringing more awareness to this, but I am also heavily involved with children. Now more than ever, kids are not getting what they need. If it is telling my story, getting school supplies, or contributing in any other way, I am going to do it.”

With the weight of a near death experience lifted off of her shoulders, Jones describes the revelation of her experience as therapeutic and finds healing in sharing her story with other brain aneurysm survivors. “I am coming up with new, innovative ways for people to tell their stories,” Jones tells BlackEnterprise.com. “Most recently, I put together a model search for survivors to give them a voice and capture these individuals in a beautiful light.”

(Continued on next page)

Pages: 1 2