Star Jones biography
Star Jones was born on March 24, 1962 in Badin, North Carolina. Raised in a New Jersey housing project, she studied law and was recruited by the District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn. In 1991, she became a legal consultant for Court TV and has since worked as a commentator and host on numerous television shows, most notably as co-host of ABC's The View from 1997-2006 and of the Star Jones Show from 2007-2008.
Lawyer and journalist Starlet Marie Jones was born in Badin, North Carolina, on March 24, 1962. She spent the first six years of her life living with her grandmother while her mother, Shirley Jones, finished college. In 1969, at the age of six, Jones moved to Trenton, New Jersey, to live with her mother and stepfather James Byard, a municipal security chief.
The family lived in a housing project in Trenton, and struggled to make ends meet. Despite their financial situation, Star's parents sent her and her younger sister Sheila to parochial school. Growing up, Jones knew she wanted to be a lawyer. As a six-year-old, Jones often pretended to orate in a courtroom.
Star attended Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where she remained a conscientious student-and a mouthy one. "I had a smart mouth and could make cutting remarks," Jones said about her childhood. "That's probably why I became a good lawyer."
Star graduated from high school in 1980, and enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C., for her undergraduate degree. While at American, she took clerical jobs and student loans to pay her way. She also shortened her name to Star and played a very active role in student government, becoming the National Vice President of Undergraduate Affairs for her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984, and was accepted to the University of Houston Law Center that same year.
High Profile Lawyer
While studying at Houston Law, Jones was recruited by the Kings County District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York. Jones attributes her decision to take the job as being influenced by her mother and stepfathers' roles as public servants. At the time, her mother was Trenton's human services director and her stepfather was head of security for Trenton. She earned her Juris Doctor in 1986, and joined the Kings County D.A. Office later that year.
While working for Kings County, her ability to argue and persuade a jury grew exponentially. Jones was involved in many high profile and controversial cases, and of the last 40 homicide cases she prosecuted, 38 resulted in convictions. One of her most infamous cases involved the prosecution of a 14-year-old boy who shot another teen on a playground. During the case, Jones dealt the boy a tough sentence of nine years to life in prison. This drew ire from the African-American community, which questioned the voracity of her prosecution and the length of the sentencing. For Jones' part, she claims to have never seen or heard any remorse from the boy, and will never forget the case.
In 1991, Jones was promoted to senior assistant district attorney for Kings County. That same year, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office was contacted about choosing an attorney for a possible Court TV appearance. A colleague referred the station to Star Jones. That summer, Jones made her first appearance on television as legal consultant for Court TV.
Taking her Practice to Television
Jones became especially well known for her work during the William Kennedy Smith rape trial in Palm Beach, Florida. Jones' work caught the attention of Jeff Zucker, then executive producer of the Today show. "She had knowledge of the legal aspects, but she talked like a regular person," Zucker recalls. The show first booked her as a guest. A few weeks later, she was offered a full-time contract as an NBC-TV legal expert. She left her position at the Kings County District Attorney's office in 1992.
Jones covered many highly publicized cases while at NBC, including the rape trial of former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and the criminal proceedings for the four Los Angeles Police Department officers involved in the 1991 beating of Rodney King. After her work on these two cases, she began appearing regularly on NBC's morning show, Today, as well as the NBC Nightly News show.
In 1994, just two years after starting at NBC, Jones was offered partial ownership of her own program. The show Jones & Jury debuted in September of 1994. In the show, Star Jones mediated small claims court cases in California and explained legal proceedings to her viewers. After hearing the case and Jones' explanations, the jury/audience would then come to a verdict on the case. With the audiences' participation, Jones would then give the final decision.
In 1995, after one year on Jones & Jury, Star was hired as a senior correspondent and chief legal analyst for the news magazine, Inside Edition. During this time, Jones was assigned to cover the O.J. Simpson case. While many reporters vied for an interview with Simpson during the civil proceedings, Jones was the only news correspondent able to gain access to the former football star.
Two years after starting at Inside Edition, Star was asked to join the current events program, The View, on ABC. The show, created by journalist Barbara Walters, featured five women-Jones, Walters, journalist Meredith Viera, comedian Joy Bahar, and actress Debbie Matenopoulis-engaging in a daily round table discussion.
Star Jones' wit, candor and polarizing opinions, along with The View's success, brought her to public prominence. The cast of The View, with Star Jones as a co-host, was nominated for an Emmy every year from 1999 to 2006. The show also won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997 and 2004.
In 1998, Jones released a book of autobiographical essays, You Have to Stand for Something, or You'll Fall for Anything. It became an immediate best seller. In the book, Jones shared her opinions on a range of subjects, including television, God and politics.
Also in 1998, Star Jones launched her own line of wigs called The Star Jones Collection. She then became the spokesperson for several full-figured apparel companies, including Salon Z of Saks Fifth Avenue and Internet shopping site Alight.com. She also explored her philanthropic side in 2002, when she launched The Starlet Fund. The not-for-profit foundation supported women, girls and families in need.
Behind the Scenes
In 2003 Jones went through a rapid and controversial weight-loss. Over the next three years, she would drop more than 160 pounds. Despite speculation otherwise, Jones denied having surgery to lose the weight, and forced her View co-hosts to state that she lost the weight through diet and exercise
In November of 2003, Jones met banker Al Scales Reynolds at an album release party for Alicia Keys. After a three-month courtship, Reynolds surprised Jones with a proposal. The couple had a multi-million dollar wedding at St. Bartholomew's Church in November of 2004.
In 2006, after nine years on the show, the show's producers released Jones from her contract. In the wake of her very public termination, Jones published her second book, Shine: A Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love. In it, Jones writes about how women can find success and love through personal stories and advice.
In 2007, Jones launched her own talk show, Star Jones, on truTV. She also became the Executive Editor of Daytime Programming for the channel. The show was canceled after six months on the air. In September of that same year, Jones finally revealed to Glamour magazine that she underwent gastric bypass surgery.
Jones has made many small screen appearances. She appeared as herself on the soap opera All My Children and the television show Sports Night in 1998, Port Charles in 1999, along with Spin City in 2000. She also made cameos on Strong Medicine (2001), Soul Food (2002) and Less Than Perfect (2005). In addition, Jones hosted E! Entertainment Television's Live From the Red Carpet special during the 2004-2005 award season. In 2007, she performed as guest host on Larry King Live while King was on vacation.
Jones filed for divorce from Al Reynolds on March 26, 2008. The divorce proceedings are ongoing.