Noni Jean
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Noni Jean

Beyond the Lights

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About Her

Grew Up... in South London with her single mother, Macy Jean. Noni's mother struggled as “a poor white mother with a black baby,” and it showed in the way that she controlled Noni. Aware of Noni's singing potential and recognizing it as an opportunity to secure their financial future, Macy constantly fought to ensure that Noni was a “winner” and not a “runner-up” – for better or worse.

Living... lavishly, on the verge of stardom. Based in Los Angeles and surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the music industry, Noni, rather than being happily immersed in the fame, feels stifled by it. Micromanaged by both her mother and her record label, Noni finds that instead of living the life that she wants to lead, she is portraying an image designed by those who surround her.

Profession... rising pop star. Despite her talent, she is pigeon-holed into following the contemporary path to stardom – that is, using sex to sell records. Wearing leather lingerie (if that), rocking purple hair extensions, and gyrating to auto-tuned club bangers, Noni becomes a packaged commodity, falling into a mold filled by countless female pop stars. Sure enough, it works, as she wins a Billboard Music Award even before her first album is released. Now the pressure is on, as the fame-shy Noni finds herself at the center of the spotlight.

Interests... songwriting. Noni's own musical preferences lean more towards Nina Simone's Blackbird, and she attempts to write songs like that. Even so, she fars, “No one cares what I have to say.” For someone who spends her life in the spotlight, Noni often struggles to be noticed.

Relationship Status... involved in a public (and fabricated) relationship with rapper Kid Culprit. At least until she meets Kaz Nicol, her security detail who saves her life during a suicide attempt. Intrigued by his words – “I see you!” – when he rescued her, Noni recognizes that Kaz, like her, is over the Hollywood lifestyle and that he’s capable of seeing beyond her image.

Challenge... being heard. A frustrated Noni tells Kaz: "Everybody says I'm special ‘cause I have this voice, but I'm just saying what everybody else wants me to say.” She quickly collapses under the pressure and has to be talked off the edge, literally, by Kaz. Forced to answer to the public and herself about her mental state and capacity to be the star that everyone wants her to be, Noni (and the public) wonder: “Is Noni a casualty of her own success?”

Personality... often submissive, but inwardly determined. Controlled by her toxic “momager,” Macy, who encourages Noni to take off her clothes and date the less-than-stellar Kid Culprit, Noni has simultaneously been over-supervised and unprotected her whole life. But maybe with Kaz’s help, Noni can find herself. As she tells Kaz, “I need you. You need me.” Together, maybe they can help Noni discover her own path.

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