Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "GLO TV spotlights Cornelius Jones Jr."

GLO TV is Here
and spotlights Cornelius Jones Jr.
and his new GLO TV Network Show

The wait is over! THE FUTURE OF TELEVISION IS HERE! GLO TV Network, the world’s only television network catering to the Urban LGBT community and it's allies, premieres Friday September 3rd 2010. To kick-off the event, GLO TV will host several events during Black Gay Pride in Atlanta, Ga., culminating in a sneak preview of network’s biggest shows including: The Debut of Maurice Jamal’s“Friends & Lovers,” “Dating Dwight,” “Christopher Street,” “Gayest Sh-t Ever.” “Sex:2010,” "Living Life," and "Being Legendary" among more than 12 programs that will debut over Labor Day weekend.

part of the GLO TV Network Series
GLO TV will be bringing you a host of new programs, and new stars. We sat down to chat with one of those up and coming stars, Cornelius Jones, Jr. Host and Co-Producer of "Living Life."

So tell about your new show?

"Living Life" is a new show, in which I Host, and is Co-Produced by myself and GLO TV's President Maurice Jamal. It will premiere during the networks launch. The program provides a rare, balanced look at the lives of people who are doing more than surviving with HIV...they are thriving! It's frank, insightful, touching, and yes, surprisingly funny!

What made you decide to get involved in the project?

Having a background in theater and tv/film and also being an HIV/AIDS advocate and activist I felt this project was meant for me. Like the individuals I interviewed, I too am living with HIV, and I'm living beyond my diagnosis. I am very passionate about self-care and raising awareness around issues that affect our physical, emotional, and spiritual being. I am also passionate about eradicating stigma, especially the stigma that is associated with HIV/AIDS. This project is the perfect platform to help potentially erase the stigmas and fear that many people of color, and people in general, carry when we think about the condition. Television is a powerful platform to bring light to many issues and topics.

How has being positive impacted your life, personally, professionally, etc...

Personally being positive has strengthened my sense of self-worth/value and care. Initially, when I found out, I was devastated and felt my time in this world was nearing its end. However, being the driven and determined person I am, and seeking support in my situation, I was able to finally channel that energy into something positive (no pun..well pun intended!). Being positive has taught me a lot about acceptance of self and others and love of self and others and it has affirmed me in my being. I went through a lot of mental/emotional pain which resulted into me being hospitalized but I am grateful for those moments because they helped me to begin to see what is really important. And all this translates to the professional. While my professional life was still thriving before coming out with my HIV status, I still felt that my silence and internalized phobias was killing me slowly. For me, being out, is my therapy that allows me to move even more freely in my professional life. I also realized that there were many more layers to my internalized pain than being HIV positive...there was also my struggles with me being Gay, a black man, from the south, self-esteem, body image, and the list goes on. (Silence does equal death and stigma equals death as well. Metaphorically the silence and stigma is slowly killing us all mentally and physically. Free our minds from our mental purgatory and free ourselves and the people and community we love and care for)
How do you feel our community is doing as far as outreach, and destroying stereotypes surrounding HIV and AIDS?

I feel our community is finally listening and awakening to the stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS but there is still more work to be done. We need to continue to come forward with our stories, we need to continue to accept that it's a part of us, not all of who we are, but a part of us, and we need to begin to have a sense of normalcy around our conversations. Not treat the topics surrounding HIV/AIDS as a minor thing but it needs to be something that we can discuss at the dinner table, or at the bars/clubs, at family cookouts, in the workplace, etc. On a community based level I feel organizations such as The Black AIDS Institute, FACES, Harlem United, GMHC, FUSION(Houston, TX), to name a few are doing a great job with raising awareness and research and testing, however as a global community we can push the button by speaking more openly and honestly with our family, friends, and loved ones.

What got you involved in acting, theater, etc...?

Oh man, I was always bouncing off the walls in my living room at home in Richmond, VA. I had so much energy as a kid. My love for theater came from watching Broadway musicals on PBS and movies such as "A Chorus Line" and "Fast Forward" and I would say my love to be on Television came from watching a lot of Bill Cosby and "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World." Bill Cosby and Tom Hanks are two men whose work I respect a whole lot. Not only are they excellent on camera but they also excel in their personal lives through education and community activism.

I heard you just received a masters degree. Tell us about that and why u decided to do this at this point in your career?

I just recently received my MA from New York University. My focus was Dramatic Writing, Educational Theater, and Performance. I've always wanted to go back to school, however, I didn't want to pursue strictly another degree in acting. I wanted to use to school to work on my passion for writing and social activism through the arts. While one may say, I was already doing that, I felt I needed more information and the support from a community of educators and researchers and artists, like the community I found at NYU, to help bring this to fruition. My goal was to research how one can successfully use theater and writing as an educational tool for social change, social change around the issues I'm passionate about, which are HIV/AIDS, the black community (black men), LGBT issues, and the intersections of spirituality and sexuality... Ultimately how to combine these topics into art that is entertaining and informative. I was yearning for more information and more direction in where my life was headed. When I begin to approach 30 I noticed that my life begin to go through a transition artistically and professionally, I wanted more than just performing 8 shows a week on Broadway. I also wanted to tell my specific story on the stage, which is the story of many LGBT people of color, and a story that our allies can relate to. I want to build and/or assist in a platform for bringing more of our stories to the mainstream. Going back to school is where the search and transition began.

What do you feel about GLO TV and its overall mission?

I GLO every time I think or hear GLO TV. I think its such a huge and ambitious platform that will succeed in bringing a diverse perspective of programming and information to the Urban LGBT communities and our friends and allies. GLO TV is also a great platform for exposing the numerous LGBT artists of color who work so tirelessly into getting exposure in the mainstream industry. The network really connects the arts & entertainment with the humanitarian needs of the urban LGBT community from politics to economics to pop-culture to health & wellness to spirituality & sexuality to pure artistic entertainment from music to film. I'm GLO-ing right now! Are you?

How do you feel about gays playing straight roles and vice versus?

This is a complicated question because I think sometimes it is just about money and taking care of your home, family, and kids. Gays have always played straight roles from as long as I have been alive and there have been numerous straights playing gay roles (the late Patrick Swayze did a superb job in "Too Wong Fu!" Actually they all did...John Leguizamo and Wesley Snipes included). There are numerous gay celebrities who are not "out" per se who make a good living off of playing straight roles. And there are a number of ambiguously identified celebrities who are speculated to be "gay" but are not "out" who make a good living off of playing gay characters or impersonating the opposite gender. I appreciate the bravery and courage when I see out gay actors, mostly from the white community, who can play gay roles and straight roles...I respect the fact that they have some level of acceptance in the world. Sometimes I'm a little envious, but my hope is that in the communities of color, more specifically the black community, we can be just as bold and courageous and welcomed by the larger communities.

On another hand, ( I said this was a complicated question) I think it is interesting sometimes how we can laugh or accept a gay playing straight or straight playing gay but when it comes to the roles we play in our normal lives we sort of freeze up, become homo-phobic and/or hetero-phobic, all in fear of being judged or shamed in some way. We are human at the end of the day. Just live!

One last question - Tyler Perry? Go -

Hmmm...are you referring to the recent "Boondocks" situation? Well...I guess I vaguely or ambiguously touched upon that above. All I have to say is, Tyler is a great businessman and I respect the work he does and his comedic timing is spot on. I don't know him on a personal level or professional level, I've only observed this man from the media. I would love to play a long lost sister of Madea in one of his movies and use one of my characters from FlagBoy or the numerous southern female characters I have created in my solo-work. And yes the world will know that I am gay, poz, and I'm LIVING LIFE!

Check Cornelius at

We are so proud of Cornelius and all our other amazingly talented cast and crew at GLO. That is all we have for now. So set your timers get ready for the premiere you've been waiting for all your gay life.

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