Jas Waters, a writer on This Is Us and Jim Carrey’s Kidding and a celebrated journalist and broadcaster, has died at the age of 39. In her career, Waters went by the nickname Jas Fly. Her death was confirmed by Rain Management Group on Twitter. Her cause of death has yet to be determined, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Waters was born in Evanston, Illinois. At the time of her passing, she was living and working in Los Angeles. During her career, Waters worked for VH1, Comedy Central and Showtime, according to her LinkedIn page. Waters was a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. On her LinkedIn page, Waters said that her philosophy on life was, “You can have anything you’re willing to work for.” In her last tweet, which came on May 8, Waters tweeted, “Some s*** just changes you.”
According to Waters’ IMDb page, she served as the story editor for 10 episodes of Kidding in addition to writing two episodes. Between 2017 and 2018, Waters was a staff writer on NBC’s hit show This Is Us. Waters is credited on 18 episodes of the show. Prior to that, Waters wrote four episodes of Comedy Central’s Hood Adjacent. Waters also wrote an episode of VH1’s The Breaks in 2017.
Waters appeared on VH1’s reality show Gossip Game. The bio section of her IMDb page says Waters worked on the productions of TV shows such as ER and MTV’s The Real World. Waters also worked on the movies Spiderman, Barbershop and Save the Last Dance.
Waters’ passing was confirmed by friend and fellow writer Sade Sellers. Fellow journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy paid tribute to Waters, tweeting, “If you are in the industry, you know @JasFly … a motivating energy and dope woman in hip-hop. Today hurts.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Waters Said in 2013 That Her Favorite Interview Was the One She Conducted With Rapper Jeezy
Waters told Ebony magazine in a 2013 interview that she was a “non-conformist.” Waters said, “Even as a kid, if you told me to go left, I’m just going to go right.” During that interview, Waters spoke about her freelance journalism work. Waters said that she had interviewed figures as diverse as Warren Buffett and Jay-Z.
Waters said her favorite interview was the one she conducted with rapper Jeezy. Waters described herself as being “super proud” of the piece because the pair “talked about love.” Waters added that the interview was supposed to be done in person but, due to logistical problems, it was done over the phone. Waters said:
So by the time we got on the phone, we were both just a little like “What’s gonna happen here?” I knew I was speaking to a female audience, and I’m like “This is Jeezy,” he’s not necessarily known for being the most tender of guys.
And I said to him, “I wanna talk to you about love.” He was just like, “Well, what about love?” … He was so great and responsive and he was very honest and he was very much himself. It was a great moment for me, because you didn’t expect that from him.
During her journalism career, Waters wrote a column for Vibe magazine and maintained her own blog site.
2. Waters Described Getting a Writing Role on ‘This Is Us’ as Being Similar to a Rookie Getting to Play in the Super Bowl
In a September 2017 Hollywood Reporter feature on the writers of This Is Us, Waters compared getting a writing gig on the show to a rookie playing in the Super Bowl.
Waters said that in 2017, her other writing jobs had ended and she asked her agent to get her job on the show, which was already a hit. When her agents finally got her in a room with the show’s producers, Waters says she “pitched for dear life.” Two weeks later, her agents called her to say she had the job. Water said, “It was a coup, a concerted effort by many people and nothing short of a Hail Mary.”
When asked about writing on This Is Us, Waters said in a separate interview with Shadow and Act from 2018 that she pitched ideas from her own life. Waters joked, “I’ve lived a lot of life.” Waters described losing a great deal of weight, which helped her relate to the character of Kate. Waters mentioned that she is an adopted person, which helped to relate to the character of Randall in the show.
3. Waters Was Such a Movie Fan in Her Youth She Said She Was ‘Like Roger Ebert’ by Age 8
Waters told Shadow and Act that she was raised by her grandmother in a nursing home in Evanston, Illinois, where she lived on a pullout bed. In the same interview, Waters said that her father would regularly bring her to see the popular movies at the time, including New Jack City and Harlem Nights. Waters said of this time:
By the time I was eight or nine, I was like Roger Ebert. I had such a grasp on what made a movie good; what made a story good. I’m also a poor Black kid who grew up in an old folks home. So I understand ground-level life, and I bring that perspective to everything I write.
The interview finished with Waters saying that she often thought of the old folks home where she grew up in Illinois. Waters said that she would often be yelled at for running around the home and that she would regularly lose her key. She said, “God had this plan for my life, so I know that it’s bigger than me, and I have to respect it.”
4. Waters Got Work on ‘ER’ After ‘Boldly’ Asking One of the Show’s Stars if He Needed an Intern
Waters told OZY in a 2018 interview that she got work on ER after “boldly” asking one of the show’s stars, Eriq La Salle, if he needed an intern. La Salle told her to wait outside of his trailer for five hours. Waters ended up with a full-time role on the show that lasted for four years.
Waters went on to say that she first moved to Los Angeles in 2003 but found that she “crapped out spectacularly” and returned to Chicago. That led her to a career in journalism after she founded her own urban lifestyle blog, FlyStyleLife. In 2007, Waters relocated to New York City to further her journalism career. In 2013, Waters moved again to Los Angeles where she got an agent who believed in her writing ability and landed her a job on VH1’s The Breaks, OZY reported. Waters finished the interview by saying, “I never saw this [coming]. But somehow this is where I am, so I guess that’s where I’m supposed to be.”
5. Waters Is Being Celebrated for Her Work Ethic, Talent & Positivity by Colleagues & Fans Alike
As news of Waters’ death spread on social media. The writer is being celebrated for her talent and her positivity in various Twitter posts from her colleagues and fans. Here are some of the most poignant tributes: