When Jolanda Jones, one of the stars of the new WE tv show “Sisters in Law,” agreed to do a show about black women working in the legal field, she wanted to show a different side of the law and bring some balance to the way black women are portrayed on reality TV.
The show, which recently wrapped up its first season, has turned out to be a great showcase for Jones. She says this is a mixed blessing. Jones is a criminal defense attorney, human rights activist and local politician, but now she stars on a reality show, she’s a household name.
“Get on a reality show and everyone knows who I am,” she said. “I get a lot more calls from around the country. People now know I’m a really good lawyer.”
Jones has won the NAACP Alex Award for outstanding legal skills and the Houston Lawyers Association’s Francis Williams Founder’s Award. She was also involved in a legal case which exposed shoddy work with the Houston Police Department’s DNA Crime Lab. Jones represented a man accused of improper relations with his girlfriend’s daughter. She was able to prove the DNA test was false and she also exposed and shut down the Houston PD’s Crime Lab. Jones’ work exonerated her client and several other inmates.
Jones said she wanted to do a reality show featuring people who still have real jobs (all of the cast still work). In other reality shows, the “characters” are often full-time reality stars.
“You really don’t see people who have real jobs,” Jones said.
Jones said she also used the show to highlight the defense side of criminal law. According to Jones, most law-related reality shows focus on law enforcement and prosecutors, but there is little seen of criminal defense lawyers. She added that it was important to show that criminal defense lawyers do important work defending people who are sometimes wrongfully accused.
“It shows not all lawyers are liars,” Jones said. “We’re educating people about the legal system and that’s important.”
Reality TV has often been criticized for focusing too much on catfights and backstabbing, and “Sisters in Law,” does show some of that. Jones has clashed with some of the other cast members such as Vivian and Rhonda, who she described as a “drama queen.” She has also interacted with Katrina Pierson, who is a controversial spokesperson for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Pierson often appears on cable news channels as a steadfast defender of Trump. According to Jones, Pierson is a serious backer of the real estate magnate.
“She believes he will be a good president,” said Jones.
However, Jones also pointed out that Pierson worked for Sen. Ted Cruz before she joined the Trump campaign. Like Trump, Cruz has also been accused of harboring prejudiced views.
“She (Pierson) tends to support intolerant people,” Jones said.
Jones does not always agree with Pierson’s opinions, but she believes she has a right to say those things.
One of the criticisms of Reality TV shows is they focus on conflict. However, Jones said sometimes this is a reflection of life.
“In real life there are people like that,” said Jones.
“Sisters in Law,” isn’t the first reality show Jones has appeared on. She was also a cast member on “Survivor” in 2005, but was quickly eliminated. She has a much bigger role on “Sisters in Law,” and this has given her an up-close look at how reality TV is created. She points out that the production crew shoots hundreds of hours, which is boiled down to a 42-minute episode. Sometimes important aspects of her life are left out.