Tamala Jones Recalls Babysitting Blake Lively, Says Her Parents Were 'Instrumental' to Career (Exclusive)

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Tamala Jones has been in the industry a long time, which means she's worn many hats throughout her acting career, including babysitter to the stars. The Castle star appears on Friday's episode of Tamron Hall, and in ET's exclusive clip of her visit, the actress recalls a special charge from her childhood gig -- Blake Lively!

"Long story short, I went to a ton of acting classes and that was on the advice of Tisha Campbell's mom. I met a representative who wanted to try me out a little bit, told me, 'I'm going to send you out on auditions.' And that person introduced me to Blake Lively's parents," Jones remembers, explaining to Hall and the audience how she became the Gossip Girl alum's babysitter.

Blake's parents, Ernie and Elaine Lively, were an actor and talent scout, respectively, before they became talent managers. Jones explains that the Livelys helped her with getting headshots and enrolling in their acting school, with Jones babysitting Blake in exchange. 

She adds, "When they became managers, I was already going to their acting school and I would babysit Blake to attend school because I couldn't afford it. Sometimes my mom would bake goods for them if they had a big party. If it weren't for Blake Lively's parents, I probably wouldn't be here today. They were highly instrumental in getting me started."

Jones describes Blake as a playful charge, joking that she couldn't "get on the phone and talk to the boyfriend" while babysitting because Blake often wanted to play. "I was always playing with her...then putting her to bed and that's when the acting classes would start," Jones shares. 

"You've always worked hard and that starts from the beginning of your career to where you are now. You've earned and you deserve all of this," Hall notes.

Jones has definitely been hard at work, establishing herself as a staple of Black Hollywood since her breakthrough in the early '90s. She's known for her roles in classic films and TV shows such as Booty CallThe WoodFor Your Love and The Brothers

Next up for the star is the Lifetime original film Every Breath She Takes. Jones stars as Jules Baker, who thinks her problems are over when her abusive husband, Billy (Brian White), is killed after a struggle and fire that destroys their house. As she rebuilds her life and home, rumors swirl around town, and problems with the insurance have fingers pointing at Jules when it's found out that the fire was set intentionally. When people around her begin to have mysterious accidents, Jules starts to question everything... including her sanity.

Every Breath She Takes also stars Tisha Campbell, Lamon Archey, Brooklyn Sudano, Jackée Harry, Katrina Bowden, Tuc Watkins, Dan Gauthier and Nikki Blonsky.

When speaking with ET in December, ahead of the premiere of her Hallmark film, The Holiday Stocking, Jones said she never got into acting for the fame, rather she always "wanted to do good work."

"I love acting -- I love all art. I just love artistry, period. But acting... it really got to me because it was a powerful tool," she shared. "I can make people feel a certain way, you know, and it was almost therapeutic. Like, maybe I feel like crap one moment and I have a job to do. when I go, I feel amazing on set. Everything is just therapeutically worked out through this character."

Jones noted that she never truly plans the roles she takes on, although there are moments when she has an idea of what she'd like to do next. "But [then] it's what Hollywood will allow me to do at the moment. Sometimes I'm ahead of my time with things I wanna do and they're like, 'Uhhh no.' Then five years later they're doing it!" she said. 

But nowadays, Jones said, it feels like Hollywood is catching up on what actors like her are ready to tackle. "I feel like our stories are being told [and] it's about time," she said. "Black people, brown people, people of all identities... We all have a cultural background and ours just isn't slavery. We've seen those movies over and over and over again, and I appreciate the artistry of those movies. But that's not just our culture."

She continued, "We are a growing people. We have ancestors that have allowed us to create a way where we live excellence. And for Hallmark to give us [room to show] that -- because as far as I'm concerned they've been doing it and doing really great movies for a long time. But to [check themselves] and say, 'You know what, we're not including a group. Let's give them their own and have them on ours as well. Let them tell their stories."


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