Rachael Jones (BFA Acting ‘11, JD ‘16) is UF’s very own Elle Woods.
Jones was involved in theatre since she was a child and graduated UF’s SOTD with honors. These days, however, she spends her time working in first amendment law.
“When I told some of my friends, ‘I'm going be the next Elle Woods,’ my friends asked, ‘What theatre?’” Jones said. “A lot of them weren’t surprised.”
When Jones was in her first semester at UF, she attended the College of the Art’s convocation and heard about a trip to Rwanda for a troupe of actors to work with genocide survivors. Since that trip in 2009, Jones said she has gone back to Rwanda almost every year.
“That trip completely changed my life,” Jones said. “It gave me a very hands on experience learning how the arts can help people.”
When Jones went in for the Rwanda troupe’s callbacks, she was one of the only undergraduate students. She thought she didn’t have a chance, but the casting director, SOTD professor Dr. Michael "Mikell" Pinkney, didn’t agree.
“I will forever be indebted to him,” Jones said. “He saw something in me.”
After graduation, Jones worked in the theatre industry but felt there was something missing. She wanted to be an advocate, and felt the best way to do that was go to law school.
“I felt this need to give back and use these skills to help others rather than to just perform,” Jones said. “I just personally felt that something was missing.”
Jones credits her preparation for law school to her arts background and theatre professors such as Professor Emeritus Yanci Bukovec and Professor Judith Williams. They taught her how to get her objective across and control her voice.
“I’m good on my feet. I know that comes from theatre and the foundation they built in me,” Jones said. “I felt I was in a better position than the pre-law students.”
Now a graduate of UF’s Levin College of Law, Jones is currently a Jack Nelson/Dow Jones Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization that engages in First Amendment advocacy and legal defense. In August she will be a fellow at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.
“It all stems back to that trip to Rwanda,” Jones said. “It’s all thanks to UF.”