Michael Jones (B.A. Accounting ’13) always knew he wanted to be an actor, but before following his dream he excelled in accounting. While at MSU, he held numerous jobs across campus, served on the executive board for the National Association of Black Accountants and studied abroad in Rome. He gained hands-on experience through EY’s internship programs in Detroit and San Diego, leading him to land a full-time job with the company in New York upon graduation.
After working at EY for five years, Jones realized that career path was not where his passion truly lay. He decided to pursue acting full-time in 2018, which is when he said the stars aligned. Within a few months, he booked three acting jobs, one of which was with global consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.
Jones was cast for the lead role in P&G’s ad titled “The Look,” which was released in June 2019 with the intent to spark dialogue about unconscious bias and share what it feels like to be Black in America today. The ad resurfaced this year amid the Black Lives Matter movement and was featured on YouTube’s homepage in celebration of Juneteenth. Most recently, it was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Commercial category.
Now, Jones has starred in dozens of films, TV shows and commercials and is a writer and filmmaker, directing The Mike Jones Show and more. In this Q&A, Jones shares his experience starring in the timely P&G ad and offers his advice to fellow Spartans for following their dreams.
Broad News: How do you feel about the topic and meaning of the P&G ad when it was released a year ago compared to its significance now?
Jones: I was most happy that during a movement, during this specific spark in the movement, that I had something that I was a part of, that I could say that I was contributing, and that I could impact people across the world and deliver a message.
I knew this [was important] when the ad was released in 2019, but the timing of things in 2020 just makes me happy that I was able to help convey a message to so many people — a nonverbal message that still speaks volumes — because this is something that Black men and women have been facing for so long.
Broad News: What does it mean for you to be featured in this ad on a personal level?
Jones: As a Black man from Detroit, I have grown up with an interest and care to create things that will spark conversation and inspire people who look like me.
As an artist, I dream of doing stuff like this. I have written movies and scripts, but as an actor, anytime you put your face on something, you want to do something you are proud of. I believe in the message [of this ad], and I believe in the urgency of it as well.
This is the biggest acting job I’ve had in terms of global reach and footprint or traction. I appreciate the overall impact that this ad has had in terms of pure viewership, positive response and overall enlightenment pertaining to an important cause, Black Lives Matter.
Broad News: What’s next on your horizon?
Jones: Right now I’m looking for opportunities to level up. I recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City to go all in and really give [acting] my all.
I want to do more projects that are impactful like “The Look.” I have a ton of my own ideas and scripts I’m looking to pitch right now, too. My dream is to act, write, direct and star in my own movies as well as TV shows. I’m hoping that more blessings and stars align for me to do so.
Broad News: What advice do you have for current and future Broad Spartans?
Jones: When I graduated, I didn’t know for sure that I would become an actor. Whatever you major in college is not the end-all, be-all.
Take the time [in college] as an investment to find out what your secondary path can be. You can constantly try to learn and continue to find out what you want to be in life post-college, because if anything, college is just the beginning.