Q&A with Jenna Kim Jones
The new feature-length film Meet the Mormons has been in theaters nationwide for a little more than a week. We sat down for an interview with the film’s host, Jenna Kim Jones, to discuss what she hopes the film will accomplish for viewers and how her faith has shaped her identity as a woman and a child of God. Jenna is a stand-up comedienne living in Los Angeles with her husband, Allan. Most recently, she was living in New York City, where she graduated from NYU, worked on her stand-up career around the city, and worked at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
What do you hope the Meet the Mormons film will accomplish?
I’m thrilled to be the host of Meet the Mormons. I’m honored that they chose me to help tell the six stories in this movie. The movie is SO impressive. Each and every person in it is inspiring. They are a perfect representation of who I am as a Mormon. If Meet the Mormons does anything, I hope it opens up a conversation between Mormons and the rest of the world. We have so much in common! Mormons have found something that makes us happy, and isn’t that what we all want?
What are some values you see that connect Mormons to other Christians?
I’d argue that both Mormons and other Christians all want the same things: love, family, and, ultimately, happiness. (Oh and great food. Just me?) Faith in Jesus Christ brings comfort and peace, and I’m positive that Mormons aren’t the only ones who know that.
How has being a Mormon helped you define yourself?
Sometimes people see Mormons as simple minded or naive. But trust me, Mormons are just as complex as anybody else. In fact, Meet the Mormons sheds light on the ordinary, yet extraordinary lives of six Mormon families. As I go through life, oftentimes I’m labeled as the “Mormon friend” or the “Mormon comic,” and when I first moved to New York and later started comedy, I resented it because I didn’t think my faith was the only interesting thing about me. I was a comic who happened to be Mormon. But the more life experience I gain, the more I realize that the choices I have made in my life up until now have been highly influenced by my faith. Being a Mormon has helped me avoid a lot of heartache and encouraged me to endure when heartache was unavoidable. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is a part of who I am. But even more than that, my faith helps me understand that I’m a child of God, who knows me and loves me. God has given me the amazing blessings of being a daughter, sister, wife, and eventually a mother.
How do you stay true to your values in the fast-paced, value-shifting world of media?
Even though I grew up as a Mormon, I decided in college after many nights of study and prayer that Mormonism was for me. I was all in, and that meant committing myself to certain values. I’m not perfect and I don’t really expect to be perfect. However, I decided that no gig was worth losing my integrity over. I need to be able to rest easy knowing that I haven’t abandoned who I am. That commitment has made it a little bit easier to say no to opportunities that might require me to compromise, even when saying yes could’ve meant money or fame. At the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.
How does your faith inspire you to be positive and find humor in life? How can everyone do that, especially when the stresses of life happen?
There are so many things to laugh at every day. Let’s see. Today alone I put on my yoga pants inside out and didn’t notice until I got to the gym. I watched a video online of a cat on a trampoline and loved it (you’ve got to see it!). I accidentally texted “I love you babe!” to my older brother instead of my husband. While in my car, I sang at the top of my lungs until I realized the person in the car next to me was totally watching. Trust me, laughing is the only way to get through the day. The truth is, life is tough for everybody. For me, the last couple of years have proved to be very challenging. I moved coasts, got married, quit my “glamorous” job in New York City, had to find new work, and on occasion even bombed on stage. I’ve been rejected and criticized and failed more than once. But those are just my own little problems. Turn on the news and it is rough out there. So all I can do is focus on the things that make me laugh. I like to dwell on the blessings that I do have, like a car (I didn’t have that luxury in New York City) or Chipotle within walking distance of my apartment or a husband who loves me and is OK with me teasing him on stage in front of live audiences on a regular basis. Life is tough, but we can either make it harder by dwelling on it or rely on Jesus Christ’s Atonement and focus on the fact that the guy who caught me singing at the top of my lungs in my car can never un-see it.
Listen to the full audio interview on Mormon Channel Daily here.
If you haven’t yet seen Meet the Mormons, click here for the trailer and to find a theater that is showing it near you.