By Kathleen Archambeau
âYouâll always have a seatat my table.â
Actress on Glee
From lockdown at juvenile hall in Fresno to Hollywood star on Glee, world champion arm wrestler Dorothy (Dot)- Marie Jones has always persevered. As the youngest of six children and aunt to 24 nieces and nephews, she has a genuine and deep concern for youth welfare. This led her to become a spokesperson for the Just Like You Foundation, dedicated to âeducating children on the value of universal acceptance.â
Though Jones has been acting for 20 years, she really is an accidental actress. Born in Turlock in 1964, she was raised in a town of 3,000 and majored in Criminal Justice at Fresno State, where she was on a track scholarship. Jones played softball and competed in shot put and powerlifting in college, winning All-America honors in shot put and becoming state champion in 1983 and 1984. She qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in 1988 for shot put. Suffering 11 knee injuries, her 6â4â frame was cut down to 6â3â, an inch of height restored recently by knee replacement surgery.
Dot-Marie Jones never planned to act when Shirley Eson of American Gladiators discovered her at a bodybuilding competition. Eson urged Dot to try out, which she did and won the part in 1992. Her mother, 84, has been her biggest fan, telling Dot after every rejection, âYouâll get the next one.â
Her getting the next big one, a role in Glee, was almost as unlikely as her becoming an actress. She was in Whole Foods and ran into co-executive producer Brad Falchuk. She told him to tell co-creator Ryan Murphy, who had worked with Jones on Nip/Tuck and Pretty/Handsome, to cast her in Glee. Murphy wrote the role of boysâ football Coach Beiste for Jones. In 2011, Jones was nominated for an Emmy as Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and again in 2012, for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, for her contributions to Glee.
Jones has spoken out extensively against the bullying of children. When a youth counselor, she had to âcut down a kid who had hung himself.â In her own growing up, she shot up from 5â6â to 6â1â in 6 months in 8th Grade. Kids teased her brutally. She still takes a lot of shots about her appearance to which she responds, âNever been a man. Never planned to be.â Sheâs promoting the childrenâs book, âJust Like You,â a story of differences and anti-bullying. Recently, a girl sent Jones a letter thanking her for âwhat youâre doinâ âcause I was always one of those girls who never had a place to sit at lunch.â It made Jones cry and she wrote right back to the girl, âYouâll always have a seat at my table.â
Join the LGBTQ community this Sunday, June 24th, in congratulating Dot-Marie Jones on her latest role as Celebrity Grand Marshall at the 40th SF Pride Parade.