Sheila Marikar in More Intelligent Life:
On a Monday afternoon in December, Sarah Jones, a Tony award-winning playwright and impressionist, sits at a flimsy metal table in Los Angeles’s Grand Central Market, a cavernous food hall hawking a vast array of cuisine: grass-fed lamb, vegan ramen, tacos, acai bowls. Around her, scruffy workers in baseball caps take their lunches next to corporate types in suits. In a city where the car culture promotes a gas-guzzling form of isolation, the market offers an alternative atmosphere: it buzzes with the energy of happenstance meetings.
This is why Jones chose it for the first day of shooting “She the People”, her forthcoming television series which will take on topics like gender, race, sex, power and ethnic identity in much the same way that the chef Anthony Bourdain documented global cuisine. In each episode Jones will travel to a different part of the world, from Amsterdam’s red-light district to the US-Mexico border, drawing these subjects out through the lives of ordinary people. “Every episode is going to put Sarah on the front lines of an issue,” says Justin Wilkes, the president of Imagine Documentaries, which is producing the show.
But Jones is no ordinary interviewer: she’s an impressionist, who morphs between characters seamlessly. Watching her is like observing a master magician at close range, as you try and fail to catch the moment when the trick happens. These transformations make the often dry social issues she tackles in her shows relatable, poignant and hilarious, and have turned Jones into one of America’s most subtle examiners of stereotypes and clichés. That art has defined her stage work; this autumn, TV audiences will be able to enjoy it too.