Sarah Jones

The Tony-winning performer is known for her multi-culti, multi-character one-woman shows which explore issues surrounding race and politics.

Jones grew up in Jamaica, Queens, the daughter of two doctors, and dropped out of Bryn Mawr to pursue her acting and poetry career. She started performing at the Nuyorican Poets Café on East 3rd Street, participating in slam competitions and ultimately winning the Grand Slam Poetry Championship in 1997. A year later Jones's debuted her first show, Surface Transit, which dealt with racism through the viewpoints of characters like a homophobic Italian cop and a Jewish granny. She followed up with Women Can't Wait, which was written for the feminist group Equality Now and focused on the oppression of women in patriarchal cultures, and the immigration-themed Waking the American Dream. After appearing in Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues and Spike Lee's 2000 film Bamboozled, Jones had her big breakout with the 2004 off-Broadway show Bridge & Tunnel. A 14-character exploration of New York's melting pot culture co-produced by Allan Buchman and Meryl Streep, the critically-acclaimed show later transferred to Broadway and won a Special Tony Award. In 2005, Jones landed on Bravo with a one-hour special entitled The Sarah Jones Show.

Bridge & Tunnel, Jones's most famous play, was a fair representation of her oeuvre as a whole: the one-woman show relies on Jones chameleon-like talent for impersonations to examine politics and identity through the lens of a wildly diverse cast of characters. Jones's themes have long made her a darling of liberals and fans applaud the empathy and humanism of her plays. But she has her detractors, too, who say her work is didactic and excessively politically correct. Another of Jones's shows, A Right To Care, deals with the injustice of the American health care system.

Jones was married to Steve Colman, a spoken-word poet who appeared on Broadway in Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam. The pair divorced in 2010. [Image via Getty]