DJIBOUTI, Horn of Africa (Army News Service, July 9, 2007) - A majority of the leading men in Hollywood play military roles at some point in their career, but for one actor finding the inspiration to play a Soldier is easy to do.
With 20 films under his belt, Staff Sgt. Leland Jones, 554th Adjutant General postal supervisor, has taken on roles that have mirrored his personal life with roles such as a preacher, father, coach and doctor.
"Each character I've played has been a part of me," said Staff Sgt. Jones. "I haven't had to dig real deep to find character inspiration."
Staff Sgt. Jones' film credits include "Daddy's Little Girls," "Broken Bridges," "Domestic Disturbance," "The Naked Truth" and "The In Crowd" to name a few. He's also made it big on the small screen starring in such shows as "Kenan and Kel," "Mama Flora's Family" and "Flash." And, he hosts a radio show called "Faith and Fame" on the Gospel Music Channel.
As a working actor, it would seem ideal for him to live in Hollywood near his agent, surrounded by the paparazzi and walking the red carpet for film premiers, but for Staff Sgt Jones, happiness is living in Atlanta and serving his country when called upon.
"Acting is business, and it simply occurs in between all of the other things I do," he said. "I don't ever allow one element of my life to touch another, so it never gets in the way of something else."
With his latest movie, "Daddy's Little Girls," premiering at the Oasis Theater at Camp Lemonier July 11, Staff Sgt. Jones will soon be a local celebrity signing autographs, which puts him into an "uncomfortable spotlight" that he's grown to accept.
"Camp is a very small place," said Staff Sgt. Jones. "There's no place to hide and that makes it almost uncomfortable, which is why you have to sit back and say let's have fun with it because there's nothing private about being an actor."
Staff Sgt. Jones said this autograph session will be extra-special because he has a connection with those he's serving with in the Horn of Africa.
"I don't mind signing copies of the movie for those deployed here because we're serving together and doing something in a moment of time that's worth holding onto long after this assignment is over," said Staff Sgt. Jones.
And just like this deployment, the hype of having a local celebrity will soon fade from the minds of those deployed here, but for Staff Sgt. Jones the memory will last and remind him that his life is full even if acting wasn't part of it.
"Acting came to me, I didn't go to it," said Staff Sgt. Jones. "I keep it in perspective because even if it didn't happen, I would still have other stuff to do because back home I am a preacher, a corrections officer, a radio host and I own my own business. I stay busy, but I love every minute of it."
Regardless of the job he's doing, Staff Sgt. Jones will accept nothing but his personal best.
"My goal is not to be the jack of all trades because they fade, burn and go nowhere," said Staff Sgt. Jones. "Whatever I do, I do it top shelf. Passion matters and I will do every job to the fullest because that is how I do business. And while I am here in Djibouti, the only thing that truly matters is to be the best postal supervisor possible because being a mail man is a big responsibility that brings me a lot of personal satisfaction."
(MC1 Mary Popejoy Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Public Affairs.)