From Iowa City stages to LA life and back again

Elijah Jones is a UI student and actor who’s been a part of productions in IC and LA. Here’s his story.


Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

At 6 years old, Elijah Jones knew that he wanted to be an actor when he grew up. Many children throw away their kindergarten dreams, because becoming actors and astronauts are difficult dreams to pursue; but not Jones, who performs in plays at the University of Iowa and has interned for Second City in Los Angeles.

The actor has participated in several UI productions, including The Crucible, Visual Mixtape, Northanger Abbey, and Love & Information. Through these experiences, and others made in middle school/high school, Jones has learned about the theater process and its role in the artistic world.

Theater is one of the greatest displays of empathy and work that make almost all art — especially theater — special. You can emphasize with a character that is different than you but you can also connect with them.

“Theater is one of the greatest displays of empathy and work that make almost all art — especially theater — special,” Jones said. “You can empathize with a character that is different from you, but you can also connect with them.”

Jones recalls having to play a villain in The Crucible, Judge Danforth, but found the role “extremely fun to play” even though he was acting in two shows at once.

“I was exhausted; I felt like I had to step up my game,” he said, “It was a hard time, but I felt really good about it later because I got to share these experiences with other actors and the audience.”

Although the Iowa City native studies theater at UI, his original plan had never included higher education but life in Hollywood.

“I went straight from Iowa City to LA,” he said. “I just wanted to get out and start acting. I ended up getting some small gigs in ‘Life in Pieces’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ ”

While living in Hollywood, Jones interned for Second City, a comedy organization founded in 1959. Second City is known worldwide for producing comedy artists, including Bill Murray and other prominent figures of the “golden age of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ”

There, he worked as a bouncer, or rather, a doorman.

“It’s funny because I’m not a very intimidating person,” he said. “But it was a great experience, I got to see what the inhabitants of Hollywood were really like. There’s a very high homeless population. Understanding that side of Hollywood opened my eyes a bit.” 

After graduation, Jones is considering departing for Chicago and continue to build his acting career from there. But for now, Iowa City is the place where he continues his education and growth.

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“It fuels the creative drive,” he said. “It’s so much fun when you’re able to connect with your cast and audience. There’s no better feeling than to go out and play and to be in the moment.”