Live from TED2014

Multiple personalities take the stage: Sarah Jones at TED2014

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Sarah Jones. Photo: Ryan Lash

Sarah Jones is an actor and monologuist who comes on stage to explain her own diverse background. “I grew up in a family that was multi-everything, black and white, Caribbean, Irish American, German American, there was Dominican music playing from the stereo, Christians and Jews (that’s a long story).” But then, before we quite know what’s happening, the British lady on stage has morphed into an American woman. What? “That was one of my characters,” she says. And it turns out, she’s bringing a bunch of them to the TED stage, to answer a series of quickfire “questions from the future” that she’s never seen before. The TED audience buckles up for a whizz-bang creative tour de force, including characters like the old lady who won’t wear Google Glass because even putting on her regular glasses gives her too much information. Or the breathless Latina girl who gets to answer the question, “Is dating boring, now that humans reproduce asexually?” (After a long detour involving Isabel Allende and Sonia Sotomayor, the answer: “As long as you’re enjoying yourself and it’s with another consenting asexual oh I don’t know.”

Then, a quick visit with New York hip-hop artist Rashid, an Indian lady who bemoans slaving over a hot 3D printer all day, the millennial feminist Bella, who thinks feminism can be very “hawt” and “awe-mazing,” and even police officer Joseph Mancuso, who doesn’t have any problems with anyone: “LGBTQLMNOP.” Questions include, “How many of your organs have been 3D printed?” “What has changed now that women run the world?” and “Will there ever be a post-racial world?”

Sarah Jones. Photo: Ryan Lash

Sarah Jones. Photo: Ryan Lash

The audience is totally along for this rollicking ride, for which Jones dons and sheds clothing and characters with abandon. She concludes with a toothless homeless person with a sober message. “Homeless is the wrong word for it” she says. “I may not have no bed to lay my head at night but that does not make me houseless. Find yours.”

And with that, the audience rises to their collective feet and an out-of-breath Jones turns to TED’s curator, Chris Anderson: “Thank you for trusting me, Chris,”

For a taste of Jones’ work, here’s her performance from the last time she was at TED, back in 2009: