By Tierra Morgan
Photos: Kesha Lambert
Telling other people’s stories is a “gift” that Emmy award winning journalist Cathleen Trigg-Jones has always believed was not only her calling, but her life purpose. For as long as she can remember, it’s the one thing that has always come naturally and effortlessly — getting other’s to open up and share their truth, fears and life’s most intimate secrets. However, when it came time for the former TV news anchor, turned actress and executive producer to turn the camera on herself and tell her own story in the upcoming docu-series We Are The Joneses, she admits all hell broke loose; emotionally, spiritually and professionally.
As most women eventually come to realize at some point in their life journey, it’s easy to focus on others. We are trained as little girls to put our energy behind our children, soul partner, career, or even perfect strangers. But what happens when you are forced to look in your own mirror and spend time getting to know and love yourself, is something that can best be described as an emotional roller coaster ride that pits you face to face with your biggest fears, calls into question everything you’ve ever believed to be true about yourself and others, and literally turns your life inside out. The good news is that even though it may feel like you’re on a crash course, if you can just stay the course, it almost always ends with the most beautiful spiritual awakening.
That’s the best way to describe this past year and all that has opened up for Cathleen as she made the bold decision to step into her power and unapologetically start checking off her list of accomplished dreams and goals one by one. (It’s funny how hitting your 40’s does that to you).
Cathleen’s big “awakening,” or “ah-ha” moment in the words of our beloved Oprah, began when she and her husband, celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Michel Jones, decided it’s time to show the world that a positive, affluent, african-american couple working together to raise their family and build a multi-million dollar empire, would make for an entertaining and aspirational television show that people would actually love to watch, contrary to what many TV executives believe.
What they came up with is We Are The Joneses, a show that takes you behind the scenes of their booming, multi-state plastic surgery practice, showcasing the realness of what happens when a patient walks through the doors desiring a tummy tuck, or Brazilian butt lift (to name a few), and how the power couple is working together to find balance between their businesses, children and 17-year marriage, which isn’t always easy, as the show highlights.
The Joneses had been approached several times by other production companies and networks to do a reality show, but having already appeared on a popular network show they felt showcased them in a false, but typical stereotypical fashion (wife spending all her rich husband’s money), they didn’t trust putting their livelihood in someone else’s hands. So, they decided to make their biggest investment yet, in themselves.
As a successful television personality and producer who has owned her own production company for more than 10-years and carried the family financially while her husband was still doing his residency, Cathleen felt a deep responsibility to show the side of blacks we don’t often see on television — not cursing each other out and tearing each other down, but lifting one another up, and working hard to defy the odds. She had produced multiple projects for other clients over the years so this should have been no different. But what Cathleen quickly discovered is that executive producing your own show is a whole different beast. The easy part was featuring her husband as the amazing surgeon who she believed in so much that she put her own career on hold for years to help build up and promote, producing all his commercials. When it came time to tell her own story however, Cathleen hit an emotional block.
She had no idea how much baggage she had been holding onto. So accustomed to staying busy, downplaying her own accomplishments and building up everyone else around her, turning the camera on herself and allowing herself to be in the spotlight seemed an almost impossible feat. She didn’t think anyone would find her story interesting, which may seem difficult to believe coming from someone who rose from being a single mother in college to winning an EMMY, anchoring the news in the number one television market in the country, and appearing in over a dozen TV shows and movies. But those were all “things” she had done, not what defined her as a woman, mother, wife, entrepreneur and spiritual being.
Let’s talk about blocks, because ladies we know we all have our moments. Moments of self actualization, moments of weakness, moments of struggle, and moments of\triumph. As women, we\don’t realize what we’re internalizing,\because we’re so focused on what’s happening\around us. We’re often times taking care of everyone else but ourselves.\After all, we have to be wives, moms, CEOs, sisters, aunts, friends, the list goes on.
Cathleen had the taking care of others part down. A mother of four, she knew how to make everyone else the focus. When she turned the camera on herself and actually saw\※HER,” that’s when she saw the wounds and how deep they were. The camera has a way of making you face things; it reveals pains that you thought were buried so deep. In telling her story, all of her issues surfaced. The camera forced her to be\vulnerable and face her fears of abandonment, having been put up for adoption as a baby, and the fears she faced as a single mother trying to provide for her daughter while fighting her way up the career ladder. Like many women, Cathleen focused all her attention on the emotional well-being of those she loves. — to be everything for everyone, except for the one person who needed it most.
She was suddenly forced to do something she had never done — look in that mirror and be okay exposing her own truth, and once she did, to her surprise, the universe exploded. Doors began opening, her own self-confidence grew and Cathleen set out on a personal journey of healing.
Cathleen’s challenge to other women, wherever you are in your life, is to make the biggest investment you can, to yourself. You can’t expect others to invest in you unless you invest in yourself.
What makes We Are the Joneses different from other reality shows centered around plastic surgery is that the Joneses have two or three different storylines going on outside of surgery. Without giving away too much of the show, we will get to experience some emotional moments where Cathleen opens up about her adoption and fulfills a life long career dream of launching her own talk show, all while working alongside her powerhouse of man who’s own dreams have the couple opening offices all over the world.
We Are The Joneses will launch this January on BET. For all the latest information, check out www.wearethejoneses.com.