Leslie Jones is looking back.
During her virtual visit to Late Night With Seth Meyers, the Saturday Night Live alum reflected on the advice she would give her younger self, telling hostSeth Meyers that she’d go back to stop her 22-year-old self from causing destruction to her community while protesting against racial injustice.
“I would say, ‘Don’t take that sledgehammer,” Jones said. “‘Don’t take that sledgehammer.’ Because the sledgehammer literally made me a hero in so many places. I opened up so many doors with that sledgehammer. I remember I broke—and I have to tell you this—it was a supermarket and there was a chain fence and they couldn’t get it open. So, I came with my sledgehammer and…it went open and everybody was like, ‘Yeah!'”
Despite being celebrated by her fellow protesters, she stressed that witnessing the aftermath of her decision was extremely difficult to come to terms with.
“I can laugh about it now, but imma tell you, I didn’t laugh when I was riding through my city after that and seeing burnt down buildings and having nowhere to shop,” she continued. “And, you know, seeing black people crying about their business being burnt down. It wasn’t funny then, you know?”
Jones added, “So, I think I would say to my 22-year-old self, ‘What do you think you’re gonna change by going out there with that?'”
Speaking to the protests that have been taking place in the wake of George Floyd‘s death, the Ghostbusters star opened up about how closely it mirrors the climate of the nation during her early 20s.
“I was 22. That’s why I understand the protesters because there’s probably nothing you could say to them right now that’s gonna make them not want to protest,” she explained. “Because there was nothing you could have said to me back then. I was ready to burn it down because I was like, ‘We gotta do something. There’s gotta be something that we’re doing.’ But, you know, at that time, we really thought we were doing something.”
“We thought, ‘Hey, we’re gonna tear this up. They’re gonna pay attention,'” she continued. “And nothing happened. The officers got off. They’re probably somewhere fishing, you know what I mean? And the city was tore up for years. L.A. just really got back—the saddest part is all the business, the black businesses that got torn down, didn’t get to come back.”
While it may be challenging to get her message across now, Jones vowed to continue using her platform to inspire change and fight injustice.
“I’m gonna use my platform to make sure everybody understands the importance of voting,” she exclaimed. “I think we all just need to realize that we’re all human and living on the same Earth and need to start working together before we don’t have nothing.”
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)
“E! stands in solidarity with the black community against systemic racism and oppression experienced every day in America,” the network said in a statement on May 31. “We owe it to our black staff, talent, production partners and viewers to demand change and accountability. To be silent is to be complicit. #BlackLivesMatter.”