Leslie Jones can’t help but be brutally honest.
Ask the popular comic and saturday night live The graduate, 56, decided to write her life story now about why she’s going to keep it real. “My agents called me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to write a book?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Why not? F— him,'” she tells PEOPLE. “I knew maybe one day, when I retire or something, I would write a book, but now I’m kind of glad I wrote it so I can remember some of it.”
Inside Leslie Fucking Jones, available now, Jones remembers a lot. Some stories are heartbreaking, many are funny, and many are inspiring. From overcoming childhood trauma and painful loss to her difficult journey to fame and recent health struggles, Jones isn’t holding back. Most importantly, he couldn’t be more proud of his journey.
“I justified myself,” says Yıldız. “I’m actually a funny person and there it was something about me. I’m Leslie F–ing Jones!”
Here are the most important statements from the star’s new book.
Jones suffered a painful trauma when he was a very young child.
Jones revealed for the first time that she was sexually abused when she was a child. She was attacked when she was 2 or 3, she writes: “One of my babysitters was messing with me. I wish I could go back and fight that man; that little girl couldn’t protect herself.”
Yıldız writes that when she looks at the photos now, she realizes that the light in her smile at that age has faded. His late parents were veteran Willie Jones Jr. and Sundra isn’t sure if Diane Jones is aware of what happened. But he says they were the ones responsible for instilling confidence in him during his childhood. While his mother placed him in after-school programs and connected him with mentors, his father showered him with positive affirmations.
“My dad always told me, ‘I don’t care what they tell you, you can do whatever you want as long as you work hard,’” Jones told PEOPLE. “‘They’ll tell you you’re black, they’ll tell you you’re a woman,’ she would say, ‘but none of that matters.'”
Jones and his younger brother struggled to find their way through their teenage years.
In the ’80s, Jones’ family moved from Memphis, Tenn., to South Los Angeles after his father took a job at Stevie Wonder’s radio station. Initially, it was a difficult transition for Jones, who wrote that he struggled to find his social footing at a new high school before making a name for himself as a class clown and 6-foot-10 star basketball player.
However, his younger brother Keith went through a very difficult time, getting caught up in the gang violence that was prevalent in the area at the time. Jones writes that he wished he could have intervened, but the peer pressure he was subjected to was too strong and his life took a dangerous turn from then on.
Jones would have terrible fights with his father, who struggled with addiction.
Although he and his father were incredibly close throughout his life, Jones shares that he fell into alcohol addiction after a series of unfortunate events, including losing his job and his mother having a stroke. While Jones was in college, their relationship was strained and he became physically abusive at times.
On one occasion, Jones writes, he hit her in the face, which caused her to leave the house and seek refuge with her boyfriend at the time. Both of Jones’ parents died of heart-related diseases in the early 2000s. Jones told PEOPLE that retelling the painful moments she experienced with her father while recording the audiobook of her memoir “was very emotional and very difficult.” “I think I cried because I got over that problem…”
Following the bombshell in front of Jamie Foxx, Jones left comedy for six years.
The star writes that he won a comedy competition in college and decided to become a comedian in his late teens. One night, he gave a particularly bad performance in front of then-unknown young comedian Jamie Foxx. He says she stood up for him in front of the audience, but then told him he needed to live more life and produce more material to be successful in stand-up.
Jones says he took her advice and stayed away from comedy for six years. She worked a number of odd jobs in that time, from waitressing to marrying people to selling perfume. “If you want to be a good comedian, you’re going to get caught up in the ringing of the bell,” Jones tells PEOPLE. “And no one is funny until 10 years later.”
Jones chose not to have children at an early age.
Jones writes that she became pregnant multiple times in her twenties while living with her longtime boyfriend. Each time she decided to have an abortion. She eventually learned to have safe sex and prevent pregnancy, she says, thanks to educational services offered by Planned Parenthood.
Jones tells PEOPLE that her fear of childbirth began after watching a video in ninth-grade health class. “I remember running all the way home and I looked at my mom and said, ‘I’ll never do that!’ I remember saying ” Even today, she says she does not see motherhood in her future. “I didn’t get married and I didn’t have children,” she says, “but I don’t know if that’s what I wanted,” adding: “I always wanted to take care of myself.”
Jones’ brother Keith died in 2009, and the loss pained him.
The star writes that her brother’s story is about “sadness.” He never quite found his way and struggled with homelessness and substance abuse before he was found unconscious in a Santa Barbara park. He died shortly after.
“When my brother died, I lay on the floor for two days,” he told PEOPLE. He later said, “My mind was literally going, ‘Hey man, we have to pay rent. I know you feel bad, but what are you going to do?’ said.” Jones says this loss sent him into a deep place. depression but also caused him to lose all his career-related inhibitions and go full throttle into pursuing comedy.
On ‘Saturday Night Live’, Jones once told Melissa McCarthy that he wanted to fight her for rejecting her skit.
His longtime friend Chris Rock helped him land. SNL Following the audition, Jones joined the series’ writing team in 2014. However, he had trouble finding his feet at first. He once wrote a less-than-welcoming speech for host Melissa McCarthy.
“For the sketch,” she writes, “Melissa and I were talking to a guy at the club: ‘Are you trying to get these skinny beautiful b—-s in this club? You know, when you go home, there won’t be any food in the fridge, right? I, I got a whole meatloaf, some mashed potatoes, some biscuits and string beans!'”
McCarthy wasn’t feeling it and later told Jones she hoped the rejection wouldn’t hurt his feelings. “’You didn’t hurt my feelings,’ I said,” Jones writes, ‘but I still wanted to fight you.’ “Thank God he laughed at that because I just wanted to make him laugh.”
Jones continued to make a name for herself and eventually became a full-fledged cast member, known for her stunning performances on the sketch show’s popular ‘Weekend Update’ segment. She also writes that as one of the few Black actors on the show, she has had to fight stereotypes and push for diversity at times. Gone SNL “It’s like a bittersweet thing. I realized I could only do so much on this machine,” he told PEOPLE in 2019.
Jones believes ‘Ghostbusters’ failed due to poor editing.
The comedian barely splits any hairs as she talks about her difficult experience filming Paul Feig’s all-female movie Ghost Hunters It’s being remade with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon. In her memoir, she writes about everything from the violent racist backlash she faced from online trolls when she was cast to feeling undervalued on set. “Sometimes I felt like I was lucky to be there,” he tells PEOPLE. “‘No, you’re lucky to have me!’ I thought.”
He said he enjoyed working with the director and actors, but thought the producers made poor choices, which caused the 2016 film to be a disappointment at the box office. Jones believes over-editing is to blame for many of the best scenes ending up on the cutting room floor. “I feel sorry for the movie you guys had to see,” he says, “because the movie that was made was incredible.”
In 2020, Jones had hemorrhoid surgery that left him bedridden for months.
The star explains that she suffered from painful hemorrhoids for years before finally having them removed just before the start of the pandemic in 2020. “Let me tell you,” he writes, “of all the funny things in this book, hemorrhoids are no joke.” The recovery left Jones in excruciating pain from recurring anal spasms. He writes that this was actually the most difficult period in his life and he fell into depression.
The star credits DJ D-Nice’s Club Quarantine sessions on Instagram during the pandemic with helping her find joy again amidst her pain and the global health crisis.
After seeking therapy, he is at peace with his past and excited for his future.
Jones, who writes about her many experiences with loss and trauma in gripping detail, says she eventually found the time and resources to do the work of making peace with it all. “I went through therapy with everything I needed to get myself into a mentally satisfying state,” she tells PEOPLE. “As I read these stories now, I was able to take the time to go, ‘f—, man, this was so hard when I was going through this.”