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TODAY has a new weekend news anchor: Sheinelle Jones!
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Jones comes to TODAY from FOX in Philadelphia, where she spent nine years serving as a co-host of its Emmy Award-winning show "Good Day Philadelphia."
"It's so exciting to know that you're joining a team where they're friendly, they're welcoming, they're smart," Jones said about joining the TODAY team. "I don't know how to Double Dutch, but if I could, I feel like it's a Double Dutch and I just want to jump in and be part of the team."
In order to properly welcome Jones to the team, here are some fun facts we think you should know about our new team member!
1. She's been a natural journalist since she was a little girl
Although Jones didn't know that she would be a journalist when she grew up, the signs were there all along. Her room was decorated with headshots of local Wichita, Kansas news anchors, and as a little girl Jones would tell family members that one day she would work for NBC News.
She even practiced her interviewing skills at a young age. "I would take my pencil and I would interview one of my little brothers," Jones said. "I would say, 'What's your favorite food?' and he would say, 'Chicken nuggets.'"
2. You pronounce her name without an 'i'
Jones' unique first name (pronounced "Shenelle") is a combination of her parents' first names. "Once upon a time, there's a really nice lady, her name is Sheila." Jones said. "And then she met this handsome man in college, his name was Darnell. Years later they had a baby, it's me. And they came up with my name — it's a merging of their two names."
3. She's a family woman
Jones married her husband, Uche Ojeh, in 2007, in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The two met in college, but in a somewhat unconventional manner. "I can't even believe I'm admitting this —I was actually his tour guide when he was a senior in high school," Jones said. "I was like what a kind, polite, cute guy."
Today, the couple has three children: 5-year-old Kayin and two 2-year-old twins: Clara Josephine, who is named after the couple's grandmothers, and Uche, named after Jones' husband. And even the kids are well aware of her television career. "My twins and my son sometimes call me 'Sheinelle Jones,'" she said. "I'm like, 'My name is Mommy.' He's like, 'Nope, on the TV, your name is Sheinelle Jones."
4. She stays true to herself on camera
Jones started her career in Springfield, Illinois, where as a one-man-band video journalist, the 4'11'' correspondent reported while carrying around large broadcast cameras and tripods. Soon, Jones landed in Philadelphia, where she's worked for the last 9 and a half years, with candor.
"You get to see the true Sheinelle Marie Jones," Jones said of her work on camera. "I'm very honest about not having a veil. If something is serious, I'll be serious. If something's kind of funny, I'll probably laugh."
And laugh Jones did after she interviewed Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte in April 2013, while Lochte was promoting his E! reality show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" After Jones and her co-anchor wrapped the satellite interview with the Olympian, they couldn't stop laughing. The clip went viral, appearing on Huffington Post and US Magazine.
"It was an authentic interview, but then after it was over, we lost it," Jones said. "By that Monday it was up to like 2 million hits and we just couldn't believe it."
But above all, even though she has fun on air, Jones said she fully appreciates the responsibility that comes with being on camera and delivering the news. "I take this platform very seriously because you realize that power that it has - positive or negative," Jones said. "So for me, I'm all about the positive so I don't take it lightly. This is a gift for me."