Naomi McDougall Jones: Award-winning actress, writer, producer, & Women's Rights Activist

Naomi McDougall Jones is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and women in film activist. She grew up in Aspen, Colorado and attended Cornell University before graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA). Naomi wrote, produced, and starred in the 2014 indie feature film, Imagine I'm Beautiful, which took home 12 awards on the film festival circuit including 4 Best Pictures and, for Naomi, 3 Best Actress Awards and The Don Award for Best Independently Produced Screenplay of 2014. The film was named as #8 of OscarWorld's Top 10 Films of 2014 and was distributed theatrically and digitally by Candy Factory Films.

Naomi’s second feature film, Bite Me, is a subversive romantic comedy about the real-life subculture of people who believe that they're vampires and the IRS agent who audits them. In addition to writing the screenplay, Naomi stars in the film opposite Christian Coulson (Harry Potter, Love is Strange, Nashville) and alongside Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black) and Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story). Naomi once again re-teamed with the visionary and award-winning director Meredith Edwards, who also directed Imagine I'm Beautiful, and the film is produced by Jack Lechner (Blue Valentine, The Fog of War, former executive with Mirimax and HBO), Sarah Wharton (That's Not Us), and Joanne Zippel (Zip Creative). The film was shot in August/September 2017 in New York City and is now in post-production.

A pilot she wrote, The Dark Pieces, was named on the 2016 WriteHer List as one of the top 16 unproduced pilots by a female screenwriter and is now in development for Canadian TV. She was a writer for season 1 of Amazon's original series, The New Yorker Presents, based on the world's most award-winning magazine, which premiered at Sundance 2016, for which she wrote the teleplay adaptation of Miranda July's short story Roy Spivey. Naomi has been a vocal advocate for bringing gender parity to film, both on and off screen. She has spoken at film festivals and conferences around the world and written extensively on this subject. In November 2016, Naomi gave a TEDTalk, The Women in Film Revolution Begins With You.

She has teamed up with former CFO of the City of Chicago, Lois Scott, to found The 51 Fund, a VC investment fund that will finance films written, directed, and produced by women. She is currently at work on a book, The Wrong Kind of Woman: Dismantling the God of Hollywood, which is to be published by Beacon Press in January 2020. She hosts the podcast Fear(ful)less: Filmmaking From the Edge, a monthly window into the successes, failures, and conversations of an independent filmmaker, which is available on iTunes and GooglePlay. Naomi lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Stephen.

(Click to watch Ted Talk)

My Goal of the Day: Make it to all my meetings on time, with a calm center, and an open heart

My Thought of the Day: In order to move forward, we must focus on healing the narcissistic wounds of the patriarchy

My Action of the Day: Foment revolution

What do you love most about Your City?

The thing I’ve always loved most about New York is that the population and industries are so diverse, but it’s a city people tend to come to in order to be the very best at whatever they do. That’s an energy that does lend itself to a city of workaholics, but in another light, there’s a beautiful, striving, hopeful energy to those spirits all living together.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Mmm. This will probably sound totally dopey, but my husband and I have an hour-long morning routine together where we make breakfast (I make us smoothies and he makes us coffee) and then we watch the news together before beginning our days. Those are my absolute favorite breakfasts and mornings. I travel a ton for work and whenever I’m someplace else, even if I’m eating a fancier breakfast or someplace more glamorous, I always wish I were at home on our shoddy couch with my smoothie, coffee, and husband.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – I woke up at 5:30am with my brain totally alert and ready for the day. Our alarm always goes off at 6:45am, so I tried to go back to sleep for awhile, but at 6am I gave up and got up and read Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me for a bit on the couch before Stephen woke up with the alarm.

10:00 AM – I’m on the subway headed into a meeting with a production company that is interested in potentially partnering on a new TV series that I just wrote the treatment for. A mariachi band just got on the train and ¼ of the passengers are looking up and feeling happy that this is happening and the other ¾ are completely pretending that this is not happening and continuing to look at their phones/books. Only in New York could a mariachi band playing on a train car at 10am in the morning be a non-event for over 75 people.

12:00 PM - Favorite Power Lunch spot/meal?

On the subway back from said meeting. When you live in East Flatbush, Brooklyn you spend a lot of time on the subway. No mariachi band this time. Everyone is on their phones – we all judge each other for this and we all do it, but I really do hope we circle back to a time when people look at and talk to one another, even in strange public situations. I don’t think I’m cool enough to have a Favorite Power Lunch spot. I do, however, have a super-power, which is that if you drop me on almost any street corner in New York City I can tell you where the nearest Chipotle is within about 30 seconds. I recognize that as superpowers go, this is underwhelming, but I think it’s still nice to have one.

7:00 PM -  Brain leaking out of ear from an intense day of workemailsmeetingcallswriting. Have now turned off computer/email and will not look at it again until after I have finished my morning writing hours tomorrow morning (skipped this morning due to meeting). Also, Kavanaugh hearings were today and every woman I spoke to today (including myself) cried or got close to crying at least once during our conversation. Everyone in my immediate vicinity (including myself) feeling rage, sadness, RAGE, disappointment, #whothehellarewe, #whatisthisday, #fuckthisshit. Trying to set that aside as I sit down to watch a secret final cut of my friend Deborah Kampmeier’s latest film, Tape, which I am SO EXCITED TO SEE (and I’m preetttyyy sure is about sexual assault/exploitation, so...oh goodness)!

11:00 PM – Asleep.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

One cup of coffee in the morning (as discussed). Usually one more cup of coffee or tea sneaks in there at some point. Lots of water. There are few things that I find more delightful than a glass of wine at the end of the workday, though I try to keep that special and not every day or I start craving it, which makes me worried.

I often drink a cup of Horlicks before I go to bed. It’s this sort of weird, but delicious malted milk drink from the UK (for some reason my local deli sells it although you can’t get it most places in the US). My mother, who is Scottish, used to hoard the stuff and bring it over every time we’d visit Scotland (where she’s from), so, in addition to being implicitly soothing from its taste, drinking it reminds me of my childhood and sitting in my Scottish granny’s house, and it’s nice.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I never remember to use Instagram, much less do I have a favorite account. My favorite app is Insight Timer, which is a meditation app. They do have guided meditations, which I don’t use as I take lessons from a teacher, but they have this timer function that sounds this gorgeous gong once at the beginning of your time and three times at the end. It transports me up and away.

What should everyone try at least once?

Ethiopian food

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

My Deed of the Day: Foment Revolution

My Tip of the Day: Meditating for 20 minutes a day can actually transform your brain. I resisted it for so long, but finally started to do it daily in January and it has quite literally transformed by brain and my life. Do it.

TEDTalk: go.ted.com/naomimcdougalljones
Podcast: Fear(ful)less: Filmmaking From the Edge