Freeform’s LJ Jones on the Mad Science of Entertainment Content

Lawrence Jones, known by family and friends as LJ, has done everything under the sun of promotions and worn many different hats, from PA to VP. He’s currently a senior writer and producer at Freeform in Los Angeles, where he gets to bring his unique style of bold storytelling and creative madness to the millennial/Gen Z universe. His drive for innovation, weirdness and to always have fun keeps him busy in his award-winning career that spans over 20 years.

Not only bringing a little magic to marketing, he also took a spell in production as well, working as producer for A&E’s show Mindfreak with Criss Angel, where he got bit by the bug of producing, eventually leading him to create his own adult animated series .

When not in a bay working on promotions, he spends his time painting pop art, creating art workshops with Vista Del Mar children family services, exploring all genres of music – to get his record collection game up to a “respectable” hipster level, and eating all the cultural cuisines LA has to offer.

We spoke with LJ for our Backstory series, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations and more.

LJ, tell us…

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in St. Louis, in a town called Hazelwood. Born in Philly, though, was raised there in the beginning, then we moved to St. Louis. Feel I have to represent Philly too, cause I was born with Timbs on (aka Timberland boots). But most of my bringing up was in the Lou.

Your first job in the industry.

I was a PA for a promo agency called Studio City. I got the gig in a way that just doesn’t happen anymore. Which was hitting the street and doing a lot of legwork. When I got to LA, I knew no one. So I didn’t know how I would be able to get a job in the biz unless I walked in with résumé in hand and put it on someone’s desk. So that’s what I did.

I didn’t know the area, so I grabbed my Thomas Guide (showing my age now). Drove all over the Valley and Hollywood seeing if I could walk in to a studio, or production company, or agency. It was naive cause of well…security. But I happened to drive by this sign that just looked appealing saying Studio City. I went into the building, walked into the office, there were televisions and awards everywhere, so I was like, oh this is the place I need to work at. The production manager was there as I was handing in my resume. She was like, oh my god we’re looking for a PA Met with the owner the next day almost, and then they hired me. Gave me my first chance.

A breakthrough moment in your career.

I feel like I had many breakthrough moments. I’ve gone through more phases in my career than Miley Cyrus. First breakthrough probably was getting a chance to be creative director for Tyra Banks’ show, seeing how to fare with dealing with showrunners and celebrity talent. Plus, the high demand in delivering fast, super creative work made me sharper as a writer.

But then I also got to work on South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons (one of my favorite shows). So getting a chance to write and produce those spots was a little mini-breakthrough for me, too. Felt like it was a confidence boost, to be like, oh OK, this kid got skills for these big brand shows.

Three movies you couldn’t do without.

There’s no way on God’s green earth I can live with just three movies. I’m bringing a hard drive.

Can I break into parts?

childhood movies:

Mid adult movies:

Your favorite movie quote.

Enter the Dragon’s Jim Kelly: “Maaaaaan you come right out of a comic book.”

Your favorite movie trailer or poster.

My favorite trailer is actually a game trailer. If I can use that as my example? It’s the Dead Island trailer. I still go back and watch over and over. The backwards storytelling with the flashes of the happy family trying to survive. Still gives me chills. The music is so emotional, you’re sad by the end of it cause you’re like that poor family. Damn you, zombies! By the way, I’ve never played this game, I know it only by the trailer.

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