“Boomerang” has its writers’ offices in Universal City, but Ben Cory Jones considers his downtown Los Angeles home office his primary space. While he filled it with practical necessities such as a whiteboard and 1960s-style desk to force him to work, he also decked it out with a number of design touches, such as a gallery wall filled with mirrors and photos of icons including James Baldwin, Janelle Monae and Langston Hughes, to spark creativity.
Remembering Artists’ Roots
1920s Harlem is a source of inspiration for Jones, who keeps a manual typewriter behind his desk to evoke an earlier era. “We’re having somewhat of a black renaissance,” he says. “I feel like we’re in a heyday of content of people of color, and I’m really proud to be a part of that, but I like to think that what we’re doing is not dissimilar to what black artists were doing in the ‘20s.”
Honoring Humble Beginnings
Jones’ first writing gig was in 2013 when he was a part of ABC’s fellowship program. In that program, the script cover page of each fellow’s first written television episode was framed, and Jones has done the same for subsequent projects. These frames surround a key to the city Mayor Eric Garcetti gave him. “So much of this business is being told ‘no,’ and as a young, black, gay writer I don’t always see myself reflected in writers’ rooms; I don’t always see myself reflected on screens,” he explains. But “as I’m leaving home every day and going to fight the good fight, I’m reminding myself of all of the good stuff I’ve accomplished.”
Also behind his desk: a portable karaoke machine Jones often brings into his writers’ room to add some fun to what could otherwise be the “lonely endeavor” of writing. His go-to songs of the moment include SWV’s “Weak” and Carl Thomas’ “I Wish.” Jones says he always writes specific songs into scenes, even if they don’t make it into the final cut — and he admits they usually don’t, due to budget. “Music is essential to me,” he says.
Jones is from Memphis, Tenn., but he has been living far from his family for years — first when he worked on Wall Street in New York and now in Hollywood. But because he always wants to “keep my family near and dear,” he has a photo shrine dedicated to them in front of his window. The central photo with him, his father, mother and older brother was taken when he was 6 years old, about a year before he lost his mother to breast cancer. But he isn’t just celebrating the past: His niece also takes a special place in his heart and therefore in this collection.
Man of Mentorship
Paying forward his knowledge and opportunities is important to Jones, and in 2015 he received Better Brothers’ of Los Angeles’ first Passing the Torch Award for such efforts. The trophy now sits on a table adjacent to his desk. “One of the things that I’m really passionate about is just being a visible face for young, black, queer people who want to be writers, want to be actors, want to be directors,” he says. “Just trying to infuse the industry with more people who look like us.” In addition to this non-profit, Jones also founded the BGB (Black Gay Brunch), another safe space and supportive community.