The sons and daughters of the rich and famous may have a reputation for being embarrassing, vapid fodder for the paparazzi and reality TV, but Rashida Jones has nothing in common with her peers. The daughter of music mogul and world-famous songwriter Quincy Jones, Rashida began working hard to make herself educated and accomplished from the time she was five years old, when her father would catch her reading with a flashlight after he’d put her to bed. She attended Hebrew school and excelled academically at the Buckley School in Los Angeles, an independent school known for tiny class sizes and a sharp focus on students’ development both as people and as scholars.
Jones then attended Harvard, where she studied religion and philosophy while pursuing her musical gifts as a member and music director of the a cappella group The Harvard Opportunes. After graduating, she continued to include singing in her list of projects, singing backup on tracks for the band Maroon 5, in major ad campaigns for The Gap, on tracks for hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur (who was engaged to Jones’ sister), and on various film soundtracks. Jones also tried her hand at modeling, strutting her stuff for clothing lines like Triple 5 Soul and The Gap, as well as appearing in editorials for Vogue and In Style.
Jones had studied theater in college, but acting was only a hobby for her until she was cast in 1997’s The Last Don and realized what inspiration she got from the craft. She was later cast as a regular on the hit TV drama Boston Public, and appeared as a guest star in one episode of the fanatical cult favorite Freaks and Geeks. She also lent her talents to appealing independent films like Death of a Dynasty before being cast as Karen in the third season of the much-adored comedy series The Office. Despite the fact that Jones was playing the third point in an awkward love triangle, audiences took to her immediately, not only for her expert comic timing and ability to handle the show’s mockumentary format, but for maintaining a realness and likability throughout the story. Jones next signed on to appear in co-star John Krasinski’s movie Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. In fall 2007, she could be seen as a regular on the new Farrelly Bros. comedy series The Rules for Starting Over, playing a divorce attorney who has recently become single.