You probably know Rashida Jones from playing pantsuit-loving Karen on The Office. Or as Ann. on Parks and Recreation, but the veteran actress and Harvard grad is an accomplished writer and producer as well. Her latest project, porn documentary series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, shows that this leading lady’s got serious brains to go with talent.
Jones wrote, directed, and produced Turned On alongside collaborators Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. The series premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival last week and will start streaming on Netflix this spring. The docuseries is a follow-up to the team’s 2015 documentary Hot Girls Wanted, which examined the world of amateur porn through a group of young women just getting into the industry, and for which Jones received an Emmy nomination for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Film Making.
In the follow-up series, Jones and her team wanted to expand beyond the niche market of amateur porn and tell stories about how the intersection of sex and technology affects intimacy and connection. To do so, the docuseries examines the ins and outs of hook up apps, camming, and even feminist porn through the eyes of both creators and consumers.
While Hot Girls marks Jones’ first journey into the documentary world, she has proven herself as a writer in the narrative space. She wrote the 2012 feature Celeste and Jesse Forever with writing partner Will McCormack, for which the duo nabbed an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay. The pair will collaborate on two upcoming features: Toy Story 4 and Frenemy of the State.
Frenemy of the State is based on a comic book series of the same name that Jones co-wrote with Christina Weir, Ninzio DeFilippis and illustrator Jeff Wamester. The series from Oni Press follows the adventures of a socialite turned spy, based on Paris Hilton.
“I had this funny notion that she’s actually some crazy genius who knew exactly what she was doing, and she was just conducting this elaborate anthropological study on the world,” said Jones of Hilton to Jezebel back in 2009. “I imagined that she was going home every night and whispering into her mini-recorder: “Day three hundred and twenty seven. I continue to have them all fooled.”
Frustrated with the obsessive culture surrounding celebrity, Jones wanted to add layers and dimensions to a character that represented the very trend she found troubling.
Her approach to Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On bears the same enthusiasm for layered investigation and nuance.
With so many writing projects on her plate—not to mention her starring role on the TBS cop spoof Angie Tribeca—Deadline’s Dominic Patten asked the question that’s on everybody’s mind: how does she do it all?
“I think probably the only thing I’m good at is attaching myself to really talented, hardworking people,” Jones humbly answered. “The only reason I’m able to do anything is because of who I collaborate with.”
From her screenwriting partner to her comic co-creators and her documentary producing partners, Jones knows the power of combining forces to create challenging, thought-provoking art. We are lucky to have her voice not only on screen, but calling the shots off camera, too.