Tom Jay Jones: A 'Regular Guy From The Midwest' & A Star In Hollywood

As a young kid growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio,  Thomas Anthony Jones was the typical target for bullies:  5'1, skinny, and with glasses. 

Now he stands at a muscular 6'2 and can share an impressive bio at class reunions as one of Hollywood's most persevering actors.

But before the lights, camera and action-- "T.J." (as he is known to his family) was just trying to live out his dream as an aspiring actor. After graduating from Bowling Green State University, he landed an internship with "Living Single," and made a small appearance in a 1997 episode of that show.

In 1998, he landed a one-episode role on "Sister, Sister" as Todd-- a personal assistant for Lisa who accused her of sexual harassment after she fired him for being forgetful.

After that, he found a few more roles with shows like "The Parkers" and movies such as "Do You Wanna Know A Secret?" --but T.J. wanted to become more than just the "safe, educated black guy."

Instead of waiting for the next role to find him, he ventured out to expand his portfolio by doing more print modeling, commercials, and working as a production assistant. In time, his diverse skill set helped him to carve out his own niche in Hollywood.  
Earlier this month, he spoke with Zack's TV about the pros and cons of Hollywood typecasting. 

"At least you fit in and I think that's important in Hollywood," T.J. explained. " Because they're gonna slap on a label on you when you get out here based on what you look like or what you can do or your body type." 

While having a good physique helped T.J. gain opportunities, he found better avenues to make an income and a positive impact through his networking. As a result, he took a short break from on-camera appearances but the acting bug bit him again recently. 

T.J. appears on an October 2013 episode of NCIS: Los Angeles
A few months ago, T.J. signed with a new agency and found roles more fitting to his career goals. He has more commercials coming up and recently appeared as a doctor in the Crestor commercial. 

And none of his success appears to go to his head. 

For T.J., humility goes hand in hand with his upbringing. He remembers being raised by working class parents who were respected in the community. His father, "Big Tom," was a police officer--with a towering 6'4 presence-- who introduced him to fitness at the age of 7. His mother, Faye, showed him how to be compassionate for the less fortunate as a PR specialist for the Cleveland Society For The Blind. 

Now, T.J. gets to channel both of his parents' careers by dressing up as a police officer in TV roles and print ads, while putting his Telecommunications degree to bring awareness to President Obama's STEM Initiative. 

No matter how much applause he gets, T.J. stays grounded by family values. And he works to pass those values on to young actors who are new to the business.

"You gotta fill your free time on top of wanting to act," he says. 

"It can't just be about 'I want to be famous and rich!' It doesn't work like that."

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