‘Smart Guy’ dad John Marshall Jones makes many rooms out of one


Actor, producer, director and mentor John Marshall Jones displays versatility not just in his career but in his home as well. What his average visitor might view as one family room, Jones sees as many spaces.

“Each area has something that the other doesn’t. So in that way, one area can be its own room,” said the star of the upcoming “Paradise Lost,” a modern Southern Gothic saga on the Paramount Network.

Seating is key to differentiating the varied enclaves in the room.

Traditional leather lounge chairs face the TV, providing a comfy area to watch football. Across the room, a royal blue Midcentury sofa serves as the perfect place to lounge when dusk arrives beyond wide windows facing the porch. Under the light of a brass-stemmed floor lamp, a cognac leather armchair and white faux-fur ottoman anchor the designated reading spot.


The room also features abundant natural materials — warm, cherry-toned wood floors, an arched iron screen that sits in front of the gray stone fireplace and a mahogany credenza, where acting awards sit alongside a glass bowl filled with pine cones.

Though the room exhibits a variety of colors — from the daffodil yellow of the walls, to the muted blues of the floral-printed rug, to the lavender tint of the garden windows — nothing overwhelms the eye, thanks to the soft and soothing tones.

Art featuring prominent African American figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Malcolm X and Barack Obama hangs on the walls, intended as a reminder of the positive effect someone can make on the world. Jones aspires to continue the legacy of his heroes as a role model on screen and in real life.

The onetime star of “Smart Guy” — the beloved 1997-99 WB network sitcom, in which Jones played stalwart single dad to a fourth-grade genius — works as a spokesman for the Kappa League, an organization dedicated to the advancement of young men of color.

“The world often portrays these kids as thugs,” said Jones, 57, “but we want to show them they can become college-educated, upwardly mobile African American men.”

Why is this your favorite room?


I spend a lot of time in this room for different reasons. It’s versatile — I can sit on that couch facing the window, which has this beautiful view of the ridge, and enjoy a glass of wine. Or I can sit near the light and read. Or I’ve got big chairs in front of the television so I can screen films or watch the game. So in that way, I can set up the room to be three different rooms.

When you watch games, who’s your team?

Detroit Lions! What other team would you be with?

How has being from Detroit influenced your style?

When you’re from Detroit, what’s real is very important. It’s a grounded sensibility. So I love real fabrics, leathers, textiles, things you can touch and feel.

What else do you look for in a room?

Comfort. I want everything to look good, but I also want to be able to melt into a chair. I want the colors to be soothing. I want to have artwork on the wall that encourages me to continue on my path.


Favorite item?

There’s a trophy for the Audelco Awards, which is like the black Tonys. Morgan Freeman has an Audelco. Denzel Washington has an Audelco. And I have an Audelco. So I can always look at that and know I can do my job well.

Any favorite memories?

Yeah, but most of those I can’t talk about [laughs].

Is there any chance of a “Smart Guy” reboot?

There is very much a chance of a “Smart Guy” reboot. We’ve optioned a script and we’re in the process of putting together the elements.

Why do you think the show was so successful?


It took the image of African American genius, of a stable African American family with a loving African American father, and broadcast that all over the world to all of the African diaspora and showed them a positive image of themselves with no top on it — you can be young and smart and black and you can go as far as you want.

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Feb. 26, 2020