Jade Jones’ love for music runs in their blood. As a child, Jones would tag along on tour with their mom and aunt, a gospel duo. Having grown up surrounded by music and performing, it’s no surprise the DMV native has now found success as an actor, singer, songwriter and rapper under the moniker Litty Official.
Starring in numerous musical theatre productions throughout the DMV since 2014, Jones garnered critical acclaim last November as Belle in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at Olney Theatre. Now signed with an agency, Jones has their sights set on Broadway, and plans to make a return in 2023 to reprise their role as Belle in Olney’s production next season.
Despite being on the theatre track since high school, becoming a recording artist happened more on a whim. During the first summer of the Covid-19 pandemic when theaters shut down, Jones created a mixtape in their bedroom using GarageBand and Litty Official was born. Since then, they toured at festivals, including the Juneteenth festival in Harlem and New York PopsUp, dropped another mixtape in the summer of 2021 — and hinted a third one is in the works.
We spoke with Jones about their dual personas, D.C.’s music scene and tips on celebrating Pride.
District Fray: What was your casting experience like for “Beauty and the Beast”? Did you originally audition for Belle?
Jade Jones: No, not at all. The casting director reached out to me and said, “We want you in the show. We just don’t know where yet.” I never saw myself in any part of [“Beauty and the Beast”]. For Mrs. Potts, I felt I was too young. And then for Belle, well, there has never been a Belle like me. So, I was like, “Where are they going to put me? Am I going to be a spoon? I’m too popular to be spoon” — but I did need a job. I got a call from the casting director a week later wanting me to come in and read for Belle. The director of the show, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, cast me in my first equity show, so I was comfortable when I went in the room and I just did it. I didn’t try to recreate anybody else’s version of Belle. I took the script and applied it to me, and I left feeling really good about it — but also left feeling they could go another way. If I get it, I get it. If I don’t, that just means it wasn’t for me and doors open for something else. And then the next day I got the call saying I got it.
How does your theatre stage presence compare to performing as Litty Official?
I turn into a different person when I’m on stage doing my own thing as opposed to having to strictly follow somebody’s script or music. [As Litty Official], I love for the audience to turn up. I really enjoy working on Litty Official because it’s me. And it’s a part of me I don’t get to express all the time. Whereas Jade Jones the actor, there’s a recipe I have to follow.
What’s great about D.C.’s theatre and music scene?
There’s so much music. Aside from the rap thing, D.C.’s one of the top cities in the country for theatre. The musical theatre is great, but also the jazz scene is amazing. I love to go to Mr. Henry’s in Southeast and sit in on some of the jazz jams. It’s so rich for music and culture in D.C. because there’s so much history.
As an LGBTQ+ artist, what can people do to support safe queer spaces and LGBTQ+ rights during Pride month and beyond?
Give your drag queens a dollar. Support your drag queens of color, your trans and nonbinary drag queens. One thing I hate is when people go to drag shows and do not tip the performers. They think the performers are just there because they love it, which they do, but they are also making it their livelihood. Make sure you tip and respect your fellow drag queens.
Rapid Fire Round
Favorite D.C. drag queens? Tiara Missou, Echinacea Monroe and Vagenesis.
First theatre production? “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Disney character you most identify with? Dijonay Jones from “The Proud Family.”
Biggest musical inspirations? Lady Gaga, Billie Holiday, Elvis Presley, Erykah Badu, Lil Wayne, Drake.
Current artist you’re listening to on repeat? Summer Walker.
Go-to de-stressor: Nice cup of café au lait and a blunt.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.