Transitioning from stages to screens

Picture this: it’s the 1960s on the east coast, with bright costumes and catchy tunes. Her experience acting in the musical ‘Hairspray’ was what convinced Diamond Bar High School senior Gabriela Jones to continue her passion for musical theater.

Jones, who started musical theater at the age of six, was twelve when she secured a role in the Youth Academy of the Dramatic Arts’ 2016 production of Hairspray.

“My parents always promoted exposure to the arts and musicals [were] the one that always captivated me,” Jones said via Instagram. 

Despite her involvement in various extracurriculars, Jones said that she is most drawn to acting. For that reason, Jones has always tried to participate in various productions with her local theater groups and at school, performing once every few months or over the summer growing up. 

At DBHS, Jones played the lead role of James for the purple cast in the theater department’s 2019 production of ‘James and the Giant Peach’, and the lead role of Astrid in the 2020 production of ‘Get a Clue’.

“I [try] to do at least one musical a year whether it [is] outside of school or in it,” Jones said. “Participating in musical theater at DBHS reminded me of the camaraderie that exists within the theater community; it is extremely accepting and it was definitely nice to experience that in high school.”

Recently though, she has begun to distance herself from her career in musical theater to hone in on other forms of acting, namely in film and TV. 

“I want to focus more on trying to get into acting, like, film, TV [gigs],” Jones said. “I haven’t been doing musicals recently, but I still take acting classes that are more theater and on-screen acting based more often.”

Just recently, she has begun taking advantage of living in the LA area to jumpstart her acting career by auditioning for roles in commercials and making connections with potential employers.

“I started just this past summer and it’s been a pretty slow process, but I’m hoping starting relatively young will help me,” Jones said. “It’s actually really difficult for a seventeen-year-old, because it’s difficult for them to work with minors.”

Some of Jones’ past projects include a public service announcement for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation on social media safety, and a short film titled ‘Amor Eternal’ that will be entered into a film festival.

“It was really cool, it was called ‘Amor Eternal,’ which means ‘Eternal Love,’” Jones said. “For now, it [Amor Eternal] is still not finished, like the editing process, so it’s not sure when it’s going to be done and when it’s going to be entered into the film festivals.”

Currently, Jones is planning on participating in a release party at the El Portal Theatre for a book written by one of her old acting teachers. 

“He’s having some of his old students perform pieces of the book [and] I’m appreciative that they reached out to me,” she said. “I hope that means I’m making an impact on the people that I worked with.”