oliver jones

LA-based entertainment and culture writer


the plums in the icebox

As a journalist, I like to produce, never getting overly precious about my copy. As a critic, I do not lose sight of the people creating the art I am evaluating or the people consuming it. As a writer, I think like a poet, focusing on things over ideas. I am always in search of the telling details–the plums in William Carlos Williams' icebox–that move readers and illuminate essential truths.

As my industry has transformed over the past two decades, these sensibilities have served me well. They have helped ground me as I make a career spanning so many forms and functions–from lengthy magazine profiles to native content, from pithy comic pieces to breaking news, from chronicling the celebrity industrial complex in Los Angeles to exposing the social inequality faced by the residents of the city who know little of that world.

While I sometimes bemoan what happened to the magazine industry I entered all those years ago, I still love this work. It provides me with the perfect canvas for my curiosity. I am incredibly grateful that, by doing this work, I am allowed to fully inhabit worlds that are not my own.

I hope you enjoy reading the clips I have shared.

Oliver Jones, Los Angeles (Monday, August 8 2016)


la dead phone

Los Angeles can be a difficult city to see mainly because, often, we're not looking. As we head to this place or that, the city that spills past our unrolled windows is unnecessary and unnoticed. As a professor who teaches about diversity and social justice in LA, I search for ways to inspire my students to look past the obvious to really see the city in which they live. I started taking pictures of the city's broken and disused public phones to keep myself vigilant, to notice and process the city around me.

While these phones have lost their purpose, they still exist. The are symbols of progress and neglect, twin forces that have shaped LA since its birth 166 years ago. But they are also something more personal to me. They are grave markers of life's forgotten dramas, symbols of our desire–and failure–to connect with each other. Every time I find one and take a picture, I notice something I didn't before: the tubes or wires that poke out of them and into nowhere, how their shucked hulls resemble windows.

I take these pictures because these phones are beautiful, as perfect and as unique as anything in nature. I feel like they are trying to tell me their secrets; these pictures are how I listen.

Oliver Jones (Sunday, August 7 2016)

 Photo by Ruth K. Marblestone

Photo by Ruth K. Marblestone

I have spent the past 20 plus years writing about culture, social justice and breaking news for top magazines and websites. As a staff writer for People magazine for a decade, I wrote about some of the defining social issues of our time, including gays and lesbians in the highest ranks of the military, LGBTQ life in the American heartland, and the crisis of African-American violence in L.A. Originally trained as a culture journalist (I've covered over a dozen Oscar shows), I am equally adept in the world of social justice, covering topics like the failed drug war, the fight for fifteen, and America's education crisis for the Daily Beast, Yahoo!, and others. I am also a film and music critic and write extensively about art institutions, including the Getty and The Museum of Jurassic Technology. In addition to my work as a writer, I am a journalism professor at Emerson College, where I teach social justice and entertainment journalism.  


I moderate interviews on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.


Q&A with Maris Curran, writer/director of FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE

Q&A with Brit Marling of THE KEEPING ROOM.


Career Q&A with Beau Bridges.


Career Q&A with Minnie Driver.


Conversations with Young Performers


Q&A with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Moderated by Oliver Jones. BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing.


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