Today co-host Sheinelle Jones is easily one of the most recognizable faces on daytime television. Since 2014, Jones has been a member of the NBC morning show’s family, discussing the news along with counterparts like Al Roker and Hoda Kotb. She’s also let viewers into her personal life, sharing stories about her husband, Uche Ojeh, and their adorable children. You have to wonder how she gets everything done with a schedule as insane as hers, being both a mom and a famous journalist!
But Jones’ story doesn’t begin with Today, as, once upon a time, Jones was a small girl growing up in the Midwest with her entire life in front of her. In fact, Jones’ story arguably begins before that, as her family has a rich history that’s integral to the fabric of American society.
So what else is there to know about Jones? Where did she come from, and where does she hope to go in the future? And how has she changed over the years? This is the stunning transformation of Sheinelle Jones.
Sheinelle Jones comes from a long line of pioneering doctors
Although Sheinelle Jones is a journalist by profession, she actually comes from a long line of doctors. In fact, in 1949, Jones’ grandfather Dr. Val Brown Sr. opened up his very first medical practice in Wichita, Kansas, which is Jones’ hometown, as Jones reported on Today. One of the few African American doctors with a practice of his own, Brown often had crowds of people waiting to see him — especially because people of color weren’t freely admitted to hospitals at the time.
But Brown wasn’t the first doctor in the family, as his father was also a doctor, although he passed away when Brown was a toddler. And he isn’t the last physician in the family, as his son ( Jones’ uncle), Dr. Val Brown Jr., also became a doctor. Clearly medicine runs in the blood for this family!
Jones discussed her family’s history in a segment on Today, visibly moved to be sharing it with the world. “It was an amazing experience to talk to my family,” she shared.
Sheinelle Jones always knew she wanted to be a journalist
It was into this family of trailblazing physicians that Sheinelle Jones was born on April 19, 1978. “I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I was raised in Wichita, Kansas, in the Midwest,” she explained on Today. “I had a lot of energy, I was always talking, and so it’s interesting that I ended up talking for a living.” Well, it was a natural fit, then, as you have to talk a lot as a Today co-host.
Indeed a career in journalism seemed to be Jones’ destiny, as she knew from an early age that she wanted to be on television. “I used to say as a kid, ‘I’m going to work for NBC,'” she recalled. “I would take my pencil and interview one of my little brothers.”
Jones was so enthusiastic about broadcast journalism that she had headshots of local news anchors tacked up on a special wall in her bedroom. Our girl was committed!
This is how Sheinelle Jones decided where to go to college
Sheinelle Jones grew from a curious child into a smart teenager with promising scholastic aptitude. But when the time came for her to select what college or university she would attend, Jones had some concerns. “I seriously had anxiety over applying to college because I felt, like, everybody told me I had these great grades, but I didn’t know where to go,” she revealed in an interview with NBC News.
To that end, Jones collected all of the recruitment pamphlets that she could and spread them all out on a table. One institution stood out that had everything she wanted: Northwestern University. “I knew I wanted go to a big city, and Chicago was a big city,” she continued. Jones also noted that the campus was beautiful.
It was after a visit to the school that Jones knew she wanted to make Northwestern her home for the next four years, so she applied for admission and was accepted. When she found out, she was so happy that she sped back to school to share the good news — which made the administrators cry happy tears.
Sheinelle Jones was her husband's college tour guide
An education isn’t the only thing that Sheinelle Jones found when she was in college, as she wound up meeting someone very special during her freshman year: Uche Ojeh. “We both went to Northwestern, my husband and I,” she shared with Today. “I’m a year older than him.”
Jones and Ojeh didn’t meet at a dance or at a Valentine’s Day event, however. Rather, as Jones tells it, she was in the position of helping Ojeh get his bearings on campus when she first noticed him. “I was — I can’t even believe I’m admitting this — I was actually his tour guide when he was a senior in high school,” she confessed. “And I was like, ‘What a polite, kind, cute guy!'”
It didn’t take long after that for sparks to fly, as the pair started dating shortly thereafter, according to another segment on Today. And they’ve been together ever since!
Early in her career, Sheinelle Jones was a "one-man band"
After graduating from college, Sheinelle Jones started her career as a journalist in a new city, landing her first gig not too far from the dorms of Northwestern. “I started my work life in Springfield, Illinois,” she explained on an episode of Today. “I was a one-man band, so I had the camera, the tripod, and they were a lot bigger and they were a lot heavier.” This was long before the iPhone was a reality, so you know the struggle was real for her.
Following her stint in Springfield, Jones headed down to Tulsa, Okla. to work for Fox, according to her NBC biography. But Jones wasn’t done moving yet, as her next gig would have her in one place for a long time. “I was in Philadelphia for about nine and a half years,” she continued. There she was a co-host of Good Day Philadelphia, where she interviewed high-profile people like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Halle Berry, to name just a few.
This is how Sheinelle Jones' husband proposed to her
After having a long distance relationship for about seven or eight years, Sheinelle Jones could finally enjoy a local romance with Uche Ojeh, her college sweetheart. For several years, Jones hoped that he would propose — and sincerely thought he was about to on two occasions, one of them involving a box from Tiffany & Co. — but Ojeh didn’t pop the big question until Jones had stopped expecting him to. “We were on a trip to Northwestern’s campus … and it was raining outside, and he said, ‘Hey, let’s go over by our little spot on the lake,'” she recalled in a segment of Today. Initially Jones refused to get out of the car, not wanting the rain to mess up her hair. Clearly she had no idea what was coming.
Finally Jones did exit the vehicle, and, boy, she just about bowled over when Ojeh got down on one knee and proposed to her lakeside in the rain. What a romantic moment that must have been!
Sheinelle Jones let go of this when she became a mom
After tying the knot in 2007, Sheinelle Jones and Uche Ojeh decided to start a family. To that end, they have three children together: Kayin, Clara, and Uche Jr.
With such a large family and such a busy career, Jones knew she couldn’t do everything for everyone all of the time. That’s why she’s not worried about cooking dinner every night anymore. “If it’s 6 p.m. and the kids are hungry, then we’ll order pizza and we’ll have some carrot sticks on the side,” she shared in an interview with Parents magazine. She added that the world wouldn’t end if she hadn’t folded the laundry, either, which is super relatable.
For Jones, it’s more important that she utilizes the time she has as a mother in the best way possible. “I don’t want to be the mom that spends so much time trying to wash the grass stains out of their jeans that I’m not actually in the grass playing with them,” she said.
Working on Today was Sheinelle Jones' dream
When Sheinelle Jones was selected to become part of the Today family in 2014, she was 100 percent overjoyed. Specifically, she was hired to be a co-host of Weekend Today, which was the culmination of many years of work. Finally, after a decade in Philadelphia, Jones had finally made it to the biggest city of them all: New York City!
Right away, Jones knew she’d found the place where she belongs — and accepted the responsibility that comes with that. “I take this platform very seriously because you realize the power that it has, positive or negative,” she shared in her first episode of Today. “I don’t take it lightly.” She also said that it was a real “gift” to be there.
Jones’ mom also appeared in the segment, clearly proud of what her daughter had accomplished. “She has followed her dream, and her dream has come true,” she revealed. Congrats, Sheinelle!
Sheinelle Jones gave the commencement address at Northwestern in 2018
In June of 2018, after being a regular on Today for four years, Sheinelle Jones got to do something really special: She delivered the commencement address at Northwestern University. And as Jones tells it, the experience was something that made a real impact on her. “To get to a place where I’m sitting there, the graduates are in front of me — I graduated literally 18 years ago, almost to the day — to say, not only did I make it in the business … but then now, I’m speaking to students. It’s not lost on me,” she gushed in an episode of Today.
In her speech, she implored students to believe in themselves even when others do not, and she told stories about what it was like for her ascending the ranks of the industry. She also shared some lighter anecdotes about relying too much on Pop-Tarts and Lean Cuisines, rounding out the mood of the speech. “It was an honor,” she added.
Sheinelle Jones has tried to nail down a routine in her 40s
With all that Sheinelle Jones has accomplished, both in her career and at home, you may be tempted to think she has everything planned to the last detail. But in truth it’s quite the opposite, as Jones is used to a bit of chaos. “I just turned 41 in April,” she told Parade magazine in the summer of 2019. “And everybody has been teasing me because my joke is that I’ve been really trying to figure out a way to find a routine, even though things are always kind of crazy.”
A lot of that is due to the nature of her profession, which can fluctuate depending on what the story is or what she has to do that day. “One day you’re in New York and the next day you’re in Nashville and then the day after that, you’re at your 9-year-old’s soccer tournament,” she continued. And because of that, she said it’s been easy to “lose” herself.
Sheinelle Jones debuted her natural hair live on air
On Oct. 9, 2019, Sheinelle Jones did something that was deeply personal on national television. “I’m wearing my hair natural today,” she proclaimed on an episode of Today. “You know, it’s true. After I talked about it, I thought about it. What are we telling our girls if we tell them that the way God made their hair isn’t OK?” Given how black women’s hair has been treated in the United States throughout history, what Jones did was both empowering and affirming.
After the show was over, Jones took to Instagram to commemorate the occasion, which for her celebrated the power of choice. First, she said that dumping water on her ponytail before going on air was a career first — and understandably so! Then she discussed what her hair means to her and advised others to keep an open mind. “Your hair is an expression of who you are,” she wrote in the caption. “Let’s embrace all of our choices”
In 2019, Sheinelle Jones stepped down from her weekend gig
For a while, Sheinelle Jones was super focused on her high-profile career at NBC, which ate up a significant chunk of her personal time — something her Instagram followers noticed and commented on. But after several years of working Monday through Friday on top of hosting Today on Saturdays, Jones realized that it was time for a change. “As much as I love my Saturday Today family, this is going to be my last day anchoring the show,” she told viewers of Today in December of 2019. Indeed it was time for Jones to take a step back and reclaim some of her time for herself.
While Jones was a bit tearful while bidding her weekend viewers adieu, she had a really good reason to hand off the baton to someone else. “Since I’m so busy on the weekday I thought, ‘You know what? I should probably see those three children that I have at home,'” she continued. She added, “Every time I look up I feel like they look like they’re a little bit older.”
Sheinelle Jones struggled with her voice for years
You might not have noticed it given what a capable journalist Sheinelle Jones is, but for a long time she struggled severely with her voice due to health issues. “When I get a call that I have to track a story early in the morning, I get up like 30 minutes early so I can do exercises on my throat just so that I don’t sound hoarse,” she confessed in an interview with People magazine. She added that she’d also been dealing with a tremendous amount of anxiety, worrying if she’d be able to do her job without losing her voice to some degree.
So Jones went to an ENT to have a scope done to see what was going on. “Sure enough, there was this polyp on my vocal cord,” she revealed. And while it initially went away for a while thanks to vocal therapy and a steroid, the polyp came back in 2019. It didn’t take long after that for Jones to schedule surgery, which, until then, had been her last resort.
After vocal surgery, Sheinelle Jones felt "wrapped in prayers"
At long last, Sheinelle Jones had surgery to remove the vocal polyp that was causing her so much trouble in February of 2020. She got candid about the experience on Instagram, detailing how she felt when she woke up after the procedure, and she explained why she was crying through her oxygen mask. “Honestly, nothing was wrong — I think it was just a release,” she wrote in the caption. “This has been a long time coming and I’ve struggled off and on for so long.” Given how important her voice is for her profession, no wonder she felt super emotional!
Jones also talked about how supported she felt in the post, which reminded her of being in church when she was a young girl. “I also felt like I was wrapped in prayers,” she continued. “It felt like such a powerful moment.”
Following the surgery, Jones had to focus on healing, which meant she had to slow down for a change. “I had a hard time doing that, so clearly I have some work to do,” she added.
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