Best (and Certainly Coolest) Cultural Figure - 2003
Rhodessa Jones is the most gorgeous grandmother you could ever hope to see. Her neck is about a mile long, and smooth as paper. She peers over her high cheekbones at her audiences, her wide mouth set in a hard line. When she speaks, you listen. The founder and director of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, and co-artistic director of Cultural Odyssey, Jones has been promoting art as activism for more than a decade. Along the way, she's written plays, acted, sung, taught, been an artist-in-residence at such places as the Yale School of Drama and S.F.'s Prison Services, and won a host of awards. She is never hesitant to speak out for women's rights and the rights of all who can't tell their own stories. Jones has insisted we "teach our children to engage actively with other people, yes, even in times of terror" -- a fitting lesson in this time of suspicion and racial profiling.