Harvard University prior to pursuing a career in entertainment in 1997. Early appearances included in episodes of the cult-comedy series "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC, 1999-2000) and director Steven Soderbergh's experimental comedy "Full Frontal" (2002).
Her musical background came to the fore when she lent backing vocals to the albums of such diverse acts as Maroon 5 and the late Tupac Shakur. Her breakout part, however, came with her recurring role as Karen Filippelli on the hit comedy series "The Office" (NBC, 2005- ). Although her tenure as the temporary love interest of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) lasted little more than a season, it led to a permanent slot on another popular series, "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, 2008- ), as Ann Perkins, the stalwart friend of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler).
Enjoying her newfound recognition, Jones took on a slew of roles in such hit feature films as "I Love You, Man" (2009), "The Social Network" (2010) and "The Muppets' (2011). Utterly likable and undeniably talented, Jones continued to carve out a bright future alongside several of the brightest stars of film and television.
Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 1976, this product of a racially mixed family was raised in the swanky enclave of Bel Air, along with her older sister, Kidada. Not surprisingly, the youngster - whose name, Rashida, was Arabic for "wise" - was artistically and academically inclined from the start. While she was an avid reader by age five, she learned music primarily by ear. She would later say that while her photographic memory served her well when it came to listening to music and playing it back to near-perfection, she consequently did not learn to read music as well.
Her father insisted that she must learn the fundamentals and theory as well. Nevertheless, even as a youngster, Jones was playing classical concerts and winning awards, no doubt making her musical genius father extremely proud. Despite her parents' great love for one another, the couple divorced when Rashida was 10 years old, leaving the two girls to move in with their mother.
After finishing at Buckley School with academic honors, Jones went on to attend Harvard University, where she studied religion and philosophy, as well as performed in college theater productions. While in school, she served as the music director of the Harvard a cappella group called The Harvard Opportunities, and was a composer for Harvard's infamous "Hasty Puddings" theatricals. She also sang back-up for the band Maroon 5, providing vocals for the tracks "Tangled" and "Secret" on their 2002 debut album, Songs About Jane. Accompanied by her father's vocals, she also contributed to a tribute Tupac Shakur album, The Rose that Grew From Concrete. The family participation stemmed greatly from the fact that older sis, Kidada, had been engaged to the gangsta rapper at the time of his murder on the Vegas Strip in 1996.
Jones graduated Harvard in 1997 and started her acting career that same year with a role in CBS' "The Last Don," a telefilm adapted from the book of the same name by Godfather writer Mario Puzo. In 2000, she appeared in the indie film "East of A" and in HBO's "If These Walls Could Talk II." She also played school bully Karen Scarfolli in an episode of "Freaks and Geeks (Fox, 2000) entitled "Kim Kelly is My Friend." Her popularity grew with her role of assistant principal Louisa Fenn on the acclaimed David E. Kelley drama, "Boston Public," (Fox, 2000-04). Although it was a supporting role, she made enough of an impact to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award. On top of proving her mettle as a quality actress, Jones' unique beauty was getting its share of attention as well. In 2002, the newcomer appeared on People magazine's highly publicized list of "50 Most Beautiful People."
Continuing to pay her acting dues, Jones appeared in a bit part in the feature film "Full Frontal" (2002), in the independent film "Now You Know" (2002) and in the low budget mockumentary, "Death of a Dynasty" (2003). She also made two appearances in the wildly popular and cutting edge comedy program, "Chappelle's Show" (Comedy Central, 2003-04) - first, in the fifth episode of the first season, followed by an appearance in the fourth episode of the second season. She continued honing her comedy chops with an appearance in the pilot for the 2005 improvisational comedy series, "Stella," also on Comedy Central. After playing a larger supporting role as Dr. Rachel Keyes in the widely panned romantic comedy "Little Black Book" (2004) starring Brittany Murphy, Jones landed a starring role in the British television series, "NY-LON" (2004), in which she played a bohemian New York City record store clerk who embarks on a doomed romance with a stockbroker visiting from London. That part helped lead to a recurring role as Det. Carla Merced in the series, "Wanted" (TNT, 2005).
But it was the part of Karen Filippelli on "The Office" that brought Jones her most widespread attention to date. Playing a part that, with her ravishing good looks, could easily have been a ruthless vixen, Jones brought a softness and a down-to-earth sensibility to Karen, which made her a believable match for ordinary guy Jim Halpert (John Krasinski). Although fans were mixed over the emergence of Karen, following the separation of the program's beloved couple, Jim and Pam (Jenna Fischer), Jones was so not threatening, that fans came to enjoy her goofy antics as much as the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin misfits. Interestingly enough, Jones did, in fact, at one time reportedly date Krasinski, as well as "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) cast member Seth Myers, actor Tobey Maguire and DJ Mark Ronson.
After leaving "The Office," Jones signed up as a regular cast member on a similarly structured ensemble comedy, "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, 2008- ). Cast as the always supportive Ann Perkins, best friend to city employee Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Jones lent a bit of good-natured sanity to the zany proceedings. As a result of her popularity on the small screen, more feature film work soon came her way, beginning with a turn as Paul Rudd's fiancée in the "bromantic" comedy "I Love You, Man" (2009). On a more serious note, she was seen briefly as a legal aide assisting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in director David Fincher's acclaimed drama "The Social Network" (2010). Other work included appearances alongside Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan in the Kevin Smith-directed action-comedy "Cop Out" (2010) and a cameo in the return to the big screen of "The Muppets' (2011). That same year, Jones reteamed with "I Love You, Man" co-star Rudd for the indie comedy "Our Idiot Brother" (2011).