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If you’re looking for some inspiration for making your dreams come true, then Hugh M Jones III is someone you’ll want to get to know. The actor and political activist was born in Monterey, Mexico, and moved to Houston, Texas at 12 years old, where he spent many years dreaming of moving to New York City.
After he was cast in his first show in Houston at age 27, he dared to entertain even bigger dreams: He decided he wanted to be a performer in New York City. Today, he’s a five-year resident performer for the Metropolitan Opera, and his credits include the film “In the Heights” and the MAX series “The Undoing.”
Jones successfully achieved his big goal, and he’s here to share his journey so you can do the same. Listen to this week’s episode for some inspiration to transform your dreams into reality!
TAKING A CHANCE ON YOURSELF
Jones believes the major factor driving his success was his willingness to take a chance on himself. Realizing he was unhappy with his life in Houston and that he loved his growing connection with entertainment, he applied and auditioned for a job at the Metropolitan Opera. When he was offered a position, he knew he had to take it.
After making the move to the city, he lived first in an Airbnb in Canarsie and then in Harlem. A big move like that can be intimidating for anyone, but like many of our successful Motivational Mondays guests, Jones faced a singular moment that life threw at him and viewed it as an opportunity. He chose to take that frightening and exciting first step toward his new life.
Jones says that the moment he knew he was where he belonged is easy to pinpoint. “[T]he head of my department, Jillian, looks at me, and she says, ‘Hugh, you belong here. It's okay. [T]his is your space, too.”
CARING FOR THOSE OUTSIDE OF OUR OWN COMMUNITIES
As a performer and as a human being, Jones strives to build up his community and to challenge stereotypes. He has experienced firsthand the conflicts of intersectional identity, and it has highlighted for him the need for all of us to become more aware of and compassionate toward those outside of our own groups.
“I'm a walking contradiction. Everything from my name to my color to the way that I talk. When I open my mouth, people expect me to sound a certain way. [A]ll these stereotypes that people pin on us, we pin on each other. I'm guilty of it, too. So it's important to show the other side of a person's color.”
His openness to seeing these problems in himself has helped him recognize that apathy is a significant part of why oppression and discrimination continue. “Nobody cares if it doesn't affect you directly.”
“[W]hat has to happen [is that we] step outside of our own group and then care about what happens to other people, as well.”
MAKING THE ARTS A BETTER PLACE
Jones’s concern for others doesn’t stop there. He was recently elected as a delegate for SAG-AFTRA, spending the summer supporting the union’s strike.
Unfortunately, he has noticed that “union politics are just like regular politics. Nobody votes, but everybody's [...] mad.” When the union votes on resolutions, there’s a lot of confusion for members about when, where, and how they can vote.
So Jones submitted a resolution suggesting text alerts be sent to all members for important dates, because “[t]here's no reason why anybody should be [out of] communication. And let's see if we can bring up voter engagement with it.”
Listen to the episode to learn more about Jones’s journey to NYC and how he turned big dreams into reality.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:10] Jones’s experiences with intersectional identity
[4:21] The nuances of colorism in Latin cultures
[7:48] The dangers of revisionist history and why it lingers
[9:43] Empowering disenfranchised voters from marginalized groups
[12:52] How Jones discovered he wanted to be an actor
[16:16] Making the big move to NYC
[25:31] Jones’s role as a union delegate and support for the SAG-AFTRA strike
Check out the Members Only episode to hear Jones’s advice for making your dreams a reality.
Follow Jones’s journey on Instagram as he lives his dream.
Learn more about the SAG-AFTRA strike and discover how you can join the fight.
Follow the progress of the performer’s strike through the SAG-AFTRA feed on X (formerly Twitter).
- Check out what’s onstage at the Metropolitan Opera.
- Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes.