C.J. Jones has a mission in life: to inspire and empower the deaf and hearing-impaired.
The Calabasas resident from St. Louis, Missouri lost his hearing at the age of seven after contracting spinal meningitis. Ironically, his two deaf parents had taught him sign language at a very early age, so he was well prepared to handle the transition to becoming deaf.
Jones is a stand-up comedian, producer, writer, musician, motivational speaker, and CEO of Sign World Media who has appeared on television's Frasier and Sesame Street.
Recently, he partnered with and made a video for Hooplaha.com, a new website that offers powerful messages of positive, thought provoking and uplifting content on a daily basis.
Calabasas Patch: Did you film your Hooplaha video in Calabasas?
C.J. Jones: Yes! It was shot near Gates Canyon/Brandon's Village. [Calabasas] is a great place for a video or movie shoot!
Patch: Why did you move here?
Jones: I love the scenery, great schools for kids, easy walk to Santa Monica State Park and five minute drive to Malibu State Park.
Patch: Did growing up with deaf parents make your transition after losing your hearing easier?
Jones: Oh yes, because I learned sign language first, since birth, and that really helped me acquire English and have a great education. I thank my parents for giving me that language and it will always stay with me.
Patch: Who inspired you to attain all of your great achievements?
Jones: I am self-motivated kind of guy. As I grew up, there were several people, like my reading and math teachers, Boy Scout leader, drama teacher, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Ghandi and more that guided, encouraged, motivated and inspired me. To achieve your dreams despite your hearing loss or disability, you need to overcome obstacles and then keep going. I love being a role model for deaf kids and have a passion for seeing their talents when they may not dare to believe they have any. Life should not be wasted. You are here for a great purpose and to enjoy your adventure in a positive way. A positive attitude is important to have in your life. I love to travel all over the world and learn about their cultures and embrace peace and humanity. When you get out in the world and do good that feeling fills you up, and your passion grows to do more. I have a dream that Sign World Media/Sign World TV will have 24/7 sign language programming on TV-Internet where deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing signers and non-signers can enjoy full access of entertainment.
Patch: How do you hope to help others in the deaf community?
Jones: Through SWM and SWTV, my goal is to create jobs for deaf, [hard of hearing] and hearing signers, a place where creators, writers, art designers, animators, director of photography, producers, directors, actors, etc. can use their talents to achieve their dreams at our company.
Patch: What is your involvement with Hooplaha?
Jones: My involvement with Hooplaha is new and exciting. Sign World Media and I are looking forward to being part of a team to recognize people of all ages who have successful careers, leadership ability and what inspires them.
Patch: Can you give advice to parents of deaf children?
Jones: Treat them equally like any kid. Teach them sign language when they are born so they can communicate at a very early age. They will learn to read and write English well and that's where they'll achieve their education skills. Some of them will be able to speak well, others won't and some of them will have some hearing loss or profound hearing loss. Most importantly, being bi-lingual will guide them successfully in their professional life. We have many successful deaf educators, lawyers, engineers, president of business or college, etc. It is not about how much you can hear or speak, it's about how much power you give them ... [allowing them] to explore and find their place in the world.
Patch: What's next for you?
Jones: As CEO of Sign World Media/Sign World TV (www.signworldtv.com), we are producing "Once Upon A Time" children's classics in American Sign Language this year. We are working with a deaf writer on our first horror film that will cast deaf and hearing actors. I am working on developing an International Sign Language Film Festival to be hosted in LA and we are seeking donations and grants to support for this unique event. Last year we went to Quito, Ecuador to teach deaf and hearing signers about theater, movie and plant seed in their hearts to develop their self-esteem and pursue their civil rights and continue to dream. We hope to come back this year to continue our "bridge" mission between USA and Ecuador.
Away from home and work, I still travel all over America and perform my comedy show to colleges, universities, schools, and conventions (www.cjjones.com) I got cast in a new movie, Deaf Ghost, that will be filmed this summer. I hope to get new work in TV and movies. I want to make a breakthrough by knocking down the "double whammy" wall, being both Deaf and black.