SoCal Media Pro member, Bill A. Jones http://www.BillAJones.com may best be known for his on-screen roles: ‘Rod Remington,' the character he played on FOX's Glee for six seasons (photo on the right from the Glee Finale), and starting in February '17 on the new NBC show Powerless as newscaster ‘Marv Wolfman’. However, many of us in the industry also know Bill from less high-profile gigs — such as his VO and Emcee work. The big surprise to some will be to find out Bill Jones is also an accomplished singer. As a vocalist, he performs the great standards made famous by Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble` and others, often backed by a Big Band, or his smaller group The A Players. Bill's singing performances are a real treat! He was named one of LA's Best Male Cabaret/Concert Artists by BroadwayWorld's Don Grigware.
We got a chance to ask Bill about all this and more…
Bill, How do you describe yourself?
Like many in our industry, I’m a hyphenate: Actor-Singer-Voiceover Artist. And that includes things like Emcee and on camera Host. But on my tax return I list what I truly believe encapsulates me in one word: Performer.
What do you like best about your job?
There’s a lot to enjoy – when I’m actually doing my craft. I say that because, the work of getting the work can be drudgery. But that all fades away into nothingness when I’m on a set in the middle of a scene or when I’m singing with a great Big Band or when I nail a line in a voiceover session.
In your opinion, how does technology affect your role? What's changed over the years?
Well for one thing, I’m able to record VO at home – or even at a hotel room, if I’m travelling. I’ve sent tracks to producers from China, Amsterdam, and the island of Zanzibar. Now, while that is liberating, I have to say that I think you still get a better result when you can have talent go to an actual studio. That way you, as the talent, are able to give 100% to the performance, and don’t have to reserve a portion of your brain to be the engineer.
Another change is, when I first arrived in SoCal, you had to have a large stack of pictures for your Agent to submit, and multiple copies of your V/O Demo to send around to Agencies and Production Houses. Now, almost everything is sent electronically, even on camera auditions. I was able to put myself on video for a role a few months ago, while on our vacation in Switzerland. Technology is truly amazing.
(Photo Right: BIll points to his name on a trailer on the set of "Powerless")
Briefly tell us about your school/career path and how you got to where you are today?...and perhaps where you are heading.
About the time I discovered theatre in high school, I got into radio as a 16-year-old screaming Top 40 Disc Jockey. I kept my hand in as an air personality in various formats until about 4 years ago when my weekend position on a satellite network got phased out. Along the way, I picked up an undergraduate degree in Telecommunications / Speech and Theatre at Middle Tennessee State University. And I did theatre pretty constantly for many years before I moved to LA. Once I hit SoCal, I started cultivating my acting & voiceover career, as best as I could. AND I took a lot of classes – acting, voiceover, voice (for singing).
I’m one of the really fortunate ones, in that somehow, through all the things I do, make a living at what I enjoy. So far, anyway! (Laugh). Where I’m headed? To the next audition!
(PHOTO BELOW: Bill A Jones during a shooting break for "Days Of Our Lives" next door to the Old Johnny Carson Studio)
What was the most rewarding (or most successful) project you've worked on and what made it so rewarding?
I guess most people would say getting cast as Rod Remington on Glee was the most successful thing I’ve done to date. The role got blown up larger than originally intended, and I got to work with Jane Lynch and a bunch of other tremendously talented folks. I’ll always be grateful for that.
What do you see as important skills/character traits for people starting out in your specialty of media?
Show up. On time. Know your words. Be kind and pleasant if at all possible. To everyone. In essence, be professional. And, I sometimes talk to high school or college students and I tell them to “Have A Life.” In essence, go ahead and fall in love, have a family, and not sacrifice everything for your ‘career.’ You don’t want to turn around in 20 years to find yourself alone and bitter.
Do you have a role model or mentor who has impacted your career choices?
No one emerges from the womb fully formed, and I’ve been shaped and molded by scores and scores of people I’ve had the pleasure to rub elbows with over the years. Everyone from my high school drama teacher Joyce Mayo, to Frank Perry, a long time singer/pianist at the Universal Hilton, who gave me great guidance in how to sing lyrics. And there are dozens and dozens and dozens more.
(PHOTO RIGHT: Bill on stage in N. California during the summer tour , "Battle Of the Big Bands")
How do you think SoCal Media Pros helps your career/Business?
It's been hard for me to get to the SoCal Media Pros meetings lately, but in the past I’ve learned some really great things at them. And never underestimate the power of networking. Just because you can’t see how you might do business with one member of a group, doesn’t mean they won’t think of you when the time comes to refer someone. And that goes both ways.
Tell us a little about your Personal life. What makes you laugh?
I’m lucky in that, when I’m working – especially singing – that can be a great way of unwinding. Other passions include good food, good drink, and travel. My wife runs a Safari company, and we took the kids on an amazing trip to Africa a few years ago. I highly recommend doing that, if you can. But it doesn’t have to be travel to some exotic destination. We’ve had great times wine tasting and discovering good restaurants in central California, for example.
Thanks for asking me to do this. I’m proud to be a member of SoCal Media Pros, and of the professional relationships I’ve developed with other members, going all the way back to the days when it was called ITVA and then MCAI. And thanks to the folks who keep the organization going!
FOR MORE ON BILL A. JONES:
To Book Bill for any gig (From On-cam to VO to singing) go to his website/CONTACT Website: www.BillAJones.com
Bill's CDs are available on iTunes and CDBaby.com
"I've Heard That Song, Big Band Songbook" https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/billajones2