As the daughter of legendary producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton, Kidada Jones had virtually everything she ever wanted growing up, but her adolescence wasn't necessarily idyllic. During her teenage years, the model and designer struggled with learning disabilities and failed out of several schools, in addition to weathering a dramatic relationship in her early twenties with the late Tupac Shakur, to whom she was engaged at the time of his death.
Now, Jones is putting the past behind her—and lending a helping hand to young girls who may be struggling with issues of their own—with her new book, School of Awake: A Girl's Guide to the Universe, out now from New World Library. Part autobiography, part self-help, the guide includes advice about contending with bullying and getting in touch with your spiritual side. Ahead of its release, we talked with Jones about her childhood and what advice she'd give her younger self.
Why did you decide to write this book?
Because I wish I had this book when I was growing up. Girls need life tools at a younger age so they feel equipped to go out into the world with confidence and a strong sense of self. I wanted to write a book that made learning about yourself and loving who you are an adventure.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
When I was 8 years old, my parents took my sister and I out of school for a surprise photo shoot with E.T. (My dad was working with Steven Spielberg at the time.) Drew Barrymore was there too. It was an amazing '80s moment. The pictures makes me smile every time I see them.
How about the most difficult to overcome?
I was not a great student—I got kicked out of schools because I was not interested in the traditional type of school curriculums and became bored and had a lot of trouble focusing. Failing in school gave me low self-esteem. I was moved around from school to school and also had a sister who was a straight-A student so that amplified my feeling of failure.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were a teenager?
I wish I had known that you don't have to follow a traditional educational path to find what inspires you. Just because you're not a great student in school doesn't mean you won't get excited to learn about something you really love. By the time I attended design college at FIDM and could choose courses that interested me, I flourished and got straight A's. I realized that I needed to be curious and connected with what I was learning in order to succeed.
What advice would you give to young girls today?
Stay connected to the parts of yourself that are authentically you. Make a little time to get quiet during each day to stay connected to your inner voice.
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This interview has been edited and condensed.