The first thing to understand about me is that I never thought anyone wanted to hear my story.
Then I got handpicked by O, The Oprah Magazine, to be one of its O Mag Insiders among an exclusive group of influencers, so here goes!
My name is Jennifer Jones and I’m a Radio City Music Hall Rockette alumnae, class of ’87.
As its first African American dancer, I smashed through the longstanding color barrier mandated by the troupe’s foundation in 1925, and went-on to perform with hundreds of other talented performers during a 15-year career in the Art Deco heart of NYC, Rockefeller Center.
When I turned 51 last month, those glorious Rockette years comprised 30% of my total days lived on this great earth. Dancing with the gals became my whole purpose and being. It was on the Radio City Music Hall stage that I learned good sportsmanship, esprit de corps, grace under fire, and theatrical comportment, modeled after those sleek, curvaceous 1920s Ziegfeld girls. And just as our limbs precisely mirrored each other’s for those famous eye-high kicks, our voices did, too. I was a whisper among a roar of feathers, sequins, and dance-heels.
It’s been a long journey to find my individual voice, and it’s a work in progress. This blog will be a testament to that emerging voice as I reframe ideas, and bridge cultures and communities.
When I hung-up my high-heeled dance shoes two decades ago, I said goodbye to the medium that transmitted my voice (and legs!) to global audiences. Now as a freshly-minted O Magazine Insider, I’ve been given the responsibility and honor to connect with multiple-millions of readers through O, the Oprah Magazine and its publisher, Hearst Communications, Inc.
It’s a distinction that I do not take lightly.
Through the years, Oprah has been my bright light, and O, the Oprah Magazine has been my blueprint to understanding how to live my best life. And that’s my goal for this yearlong Insidership: a daily reminder that there’s something glowing inside all of us – a candle, a flame, a light – that can never be extinguished. We’re all stars on earth, blessed with the power to bring light from darkness.
It’s always better to light one small candle than to walk around the darkness, cursing.