'Bel-Air' Star & Singer Coco Jones Is Poised For Superstardom
With a breakout performance during season one of Bel-Air, the critically-acclaimed remake of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (which premiered in February on Peacock), Coco Jones proved she's ready for the limelight thanks to her millennial spin on the Hilary Banks character. After last month's release of her debut EP What I Didn't Tell You and guesting Babyface's single "Simple" from the R&B legend's recent Girls Night Out album, Jones is entering a new chapter in her career that extends beyond acting and showcases her multitude of talents.
We spoke to the multi-hyphenate artist about What I Didn't Tell You (released via Def Jam), her Disney upbringing (including recurring roles on So Random! and Good Luck Charlie and her starring role in the television movie Let It Shine) and the difference between "Coco" and Courtney Jones.
Where did your love for performing arts come from?
I think music drew me to it and everything happening now has been a goal of mine since I was five years old. I literally have a video of myself at that age, saying, "I'm going to be like Mariah Carey!" [laughs] Some desires are placed in you from birth and I feel like my talent is a blessing from God. Also, I am immensely thankful to have an environment that cultivates that.
How important is having a support system in pursuit of greatness?
Sometimes, dreams like mine can get shut down early because they're not "regular or realistic." I am grateful that my family continuously nurtured those desires and put me in rooms where I could audition for things at a young age. They had to go out and find those opportunities for me; I gained invaluable experiences from talent competitions to the songs I learned.
Children know who they are at a very early age if we pay attention and it's beautiful that your family fostered your aspirations. How did Disney help shape and prepare you for everything you're accomplishing?
Being in a big machine at such a young age teaches you about work ethic and professionalism. There's so much that has to be done behind the scenes to prepare a young person to perform that you have to prove you crave it.
Did being in the thick of it so early ever get overwhelming?
No, because this is my passion, and you learn to take everything in stride. Hearing no at twelve never took away from the excitement of the next opportunity for a yes.
Your dad, Mike Jones, was a defensive end in the NFL for nine seasons and played in the 1999 and 2000 Super Bowls. Did his career on a big stage have a profound effect on your confidence?
He retired shortly after I turned one, but my siblings and I would do football drills with him even after I started singing [laughs]. Our parents would instill confidence in us and it was on us to apply it to our crafts.
How did you apply it?
Singing in front of people and performing in a room full of executives that don't look like me taught because I have to stand out! I'm in a group with all these girls who look similar to me, so I couldn't go into auditions doubting myself.
Your talent and confidence continue to push you to new heights. How was it working with the legendary Babyface?
It's so crazy! Even with my confidence, I'm always surprised at my own life, and I don't have words to describe how this feels sometimes. When I found out that Babyface was considering me to be part of the album, I wondered how he even heard of me [laughs]. And when we started working together, he was pleasantly surprised by my vocal ability. You don't think these things can happen because it's Babyface! And he's so down to earth, humble and open to creative ideas because it doesn't have to be his way or the highway, even though I'd be happy to do it his way. After all, he clearly knows what he's doing.
Your reality sounds like a dream come true. Is there any difference between Courtney and Coco Jones?
Man! Coco is business! That's work, goals, and tapping into my creative emotions but leaving them somewhere else when it comes to the music business. Courtney is very normal, doesn't like being in the mix, loves watching The Office and eats ramen. Courtney is very vulnerable and wants to say no to things sometimes, but that's when Coco steps in!
Is it ever a task to separate the two?
The line is a bit blurry at times because I need both. Coco can be a workaholic, but that's when I have to be Courtney and rest because I've given the max I can give, and anything more than that will have to wait until tomorrow.
Does that line ever blur your relationships?
Courtney is definitely more there because Coco is a performer! Courtney is chill, but I have to be both to accomplish my goals because the industry doesn't cater to any one person, so an alter-ego is necessary.
How did you land on the title for your What I Didn't Tell You EP?
So let me tell you! [laughs] I told the team I want to tell stories about things people don't know about me. So while I was trying to be all artsy, they stopped me in my tracks and said, "What about What I Didn't Tell You?" All I could do was say yes because they helped me bring the most authentic version of my intentions to life.
I noticed you're listed as a songwriter on a lot of your songs. How important is it for you to pen your music?
I think it depends on the artist because half of a hit song is who's selling that product. If I see a dishwashing sponge and a Spongebob sponge, I'm buying the Spongebob one because I like him. If I can, I like to have creative input on the songs because I want to be able to sell them to the best of my abilities. How can I sell it the best if I'm not actively involved in the creative process?
That goes back to what you said earlier about working with Babyface. The collaboration process is optimal.
Correct. Unless Beyoncé says, "Here's a song," because I'm not changing anything! I'm singing it exactly how she told me to sing it! [laughs]
That sort of answers my next question. Who do you want to collaborate with that you haven't?
Well, Beyoncé, I'm speaking this into existence because I want to be here for the long run, have power behind my name so I can do good in this world, and because I'm here for abundance in the high-caliber of quality that follows my name. I love Lucky Daye! I think he's so dope! Do a really hot and powerful girls' anthem with Alex Isley, Summer Walker, Chloe x Halle, SZA, Ella Mai and all the R&B girls! I want to do something with Calvin Harris because I love EDM, so if he wants me to sing on something, I'm singing on it. I don't want to be stuck in any genre because I'm into any and everything creative.
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about Bel-Air. Knowing the difference between Courtney and Coco, how much of yourself goes into playing Hilary Banks and other characters you play?
Hilary is very much like me. She's very goal-oriented, brutally honest, charismatic, funny, and gives off boss energy. To be honest, I haven't played a character who is too far away from who I am.
Is that something you want to change?
Absolutely! It's a goal of mine to play a completely menacing character, be in an action-adventure or play a tomboy.