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Why Rashida Jones Almost Quit Acting

Jim’s part-time girlfriend on “The Office” almost wasn’t played by Rashida Jones. In fact, she almost quit acting altogether.

During a panel talk on Wednesday for Tribeca Film Festival, the actress, director, writer, and producer said that after working on the set of television show “Boston Public,” there was a writer’s strike going on in Hollywood and she wasn’t getting any auditions. Aged 30 at the time, she almost decided to leave show business for grad school, but luckily, creators of the American version of “The Office” offered her the part of Karen Filipeli, and the show took off, becoming a staple in the comedy world.

When co-panelist Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show,” “Patriot Act”) asked if acting is all luck, Jones said it is.

“So much of it is luck. I mean, so much of it is like, where you are and can you even afford to pursue something without going broke,” she said. “I won the lottery in a lot of ways. I am from privilege and I have wonderful and loving parents who supported me and took care of me.”

Minhaj joked that Jones was the daughter his parents “always wanted” because she has a degree from Harvard. She said that her father, musician Quincy Jones, went with her on college tours and she was originally headed to Brown, but luckily got off Harvard’s waitlist after she received her diploma.

In order to give back to her father, she directed a documentary about him (“Quincy”) which premiered in the fall of 2018. Minhaj called it “one of the best documentaries” he’s seen in his life.

“The intention was for people to get a real sense of who he is, the good and the bad of it,” she said. “People haven’t really focused on his personality because he’s well documented and there’s no time to talk about who he is because he’s done so much good s–t.”

Later, the two discussed the effects of social media in our generation and how actors and entertainers are being “canceled” because of things they’ve said or done. Minhaj asked Jones if there will ever be room for forgiveness. Jones said that these situations are bound to happen, it’s just about how you deal with them.

“We have to find the room [for forgiveness] because the thing that connects us is the fact that we’re all fallible and the fact that we’re all flawed,” she said. “So, if everybody decides that this person, their flaw is way worse than everybody else’s flaws, everybody is going after that person. There’s got to be space somewhere where we don’t take these lines with each other.”

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