Movie Reviews

The Real Reason Toni Actress Jill Marie Jones Left Girlfriends

Summary

  • Toni actress Jill Marie Jones left Girlfriends due to her contract ending and wanting to pursue movie opportunities.
  • Toni’s departure was written off by sending her to New York City to be close to her son.
  • Jill Marie Jones regrets not announcing her departure sooner, but her co-stars respected her decision.



It’s a bit of a surprise when Toni (Jill Marie Jones) suddenly leaves Girlfriends, considering how important a character she was to the hit sitcom, but Jones has her reasons. Girlfriends ran for 8 seasons before it ended in February 2008. In that time, the series followed the lives of four friends, Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), Maya (Golden Brooks), Lynn (Persia White), and Toni (Jones).

Toni is Joan’s oldest friend, with the two growing up together, and she considers herself the popular and “cute” one of the group. Though this can sometimes be read as shallow, she’s a loving and loyal friend. A talented real estate agent, Toni eventually opens her own brokerage. After some on-again, off-again relationships, Toni finds love unexpectedly with Todd Garrett (Jason Pace), whom she quickly marries and divorces after a year. The couple have a kid together, and it’s their son, Morgan, who gets the ball rolling on Toni’s exit from the show.


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Toni Actress Jill Marie Jones Left Girlfriends Because Her Contract Was Up & She Wanted To Pursue Movie Opportunities

Toni Was Written Off The Show By Sending Her To New York City

Throughout season 6, Toni is in a custody battle with Todd over their son. At the same time, she and Joan are fighting more than they usually do. Everything comes to a head when Toni misses a custody hearing, leading to Todd taking Morgan to New York City. Joan and Toni have a huge fight and Toni realizes she needs to be in NYC to be close to her child and departs the show, without reconciling with her oldest friend.


While this may seem abrupt, it was what Jill Marie Jones wanted.

While this may seem abrupt, it was what Jill Marie Jones wanted. In an interview with BlackFilm, Jones talked about why she was leaving the show,

“For me and my career, my contract was up after six seasons and there’s a whole film world that I wanted to experience and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

It wasn’t that Jones didn’t like being on the show; she just wanted to try something new and this was an opportunity, and the actress ended up appearing in eight movies in the next five years. Though none of those movies were notably successful, she still had major roles in studio films. Jones ultimately found more success in returning to television, with recurring parts as Amanda Fisher in Ash vs Evil Dead, Maggie in Monogamy, and Bianca in The Chi.


As for Girlfriends, losing one of the four main characters was an undeniable blow to the series, but seasons 7 and 8 were still very good. With only three main cast members, they each got more screen time, though there were moments where the story missed the energy Jones brought.

Season

Episode

Title

Toni’s First Episode

1

1

Toe Sucking

Toni’s Last Episode

6

22

…Ain’t Nothing Over There

Jill Marie Jones’ Girlfriends Co-Stars Understood Her Decision To Leave

The Cast of Girlfriends Reunited For An Episode Of Black-ish

Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross), Lila (Persia White), and Tine (Jill Marie Jones) on the couch as the cast of Girlfriends reunites in Black-ish


Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White, and Jill Marie Jones had a mini Girlfriends reunion on Ross’ show Black-ish in season 6, episode 3, “Feminisn’t”. In the episode, Bow (Ross) takes Diane (Marsai Martin) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) to her feminist group, where they meet three of Bow’s friends: Malika (Brooks), Lila (White), and Tina (Jones).

Reggie Hayes, who was the unofficial fifth member of the
Girlfriends
group as William Jerome Dent also appears in the
Black-ish
episode as Walter.

The Girlfriends group had a post-Black-ish interview with Charlamagne Tha God to discuss the reunion. It’s an hour-long interview where the women catch up and talk about the struggles of working in Hollywood as Black women. Jones also talks about her regrets on Girlfriendsand not telling her co-stars sooner that she was leaving the show, tearfully saying,


“I didn’t, I didn’t know that you have to make an announcement. I know that, but I regret… If I could go back, I would definitely do things differently for sure.”

While Jones doesn’t regret leaving, she wishes she had the wisdom to be more communicative. Her co-stars were empathetic, however. Brooks says,

“What you cannot do is tell someone or project how you would do something on to someone else. She made a choice that was right for her and that was her choice and we had to respect that.”

Whatever happened in the past, all four members of the cast of Girlfriends have gone on to excellent careers and clearly still have a lot of love for one another.

Girlfriends (2000)

Girlfriends (2000)

Girlfriends is a comedy television series that follows the lives of four African American women navigating both personal and professional experiences in Los Angeles. The show, led by Tracee Ellis Ross, highlights the group’s life journey, including friendship, love, and career ambitions as their lives cross at different points.

Cast
Tracee Ellis Ross , Golden Brooks , Persia White , Reggie Hayes , Jill Marie Jones , Keesha Sharp

Release Date
September 11, 2000

Seasons
8

Creator(s)
Mara Brock Akil

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