It’s a busy time for former Fresno State athlete Dot-Marie Jones. Not only is she dealing with the end of her work on the FOX series “Glee,” she is promoting a guest appearance on the Disney Junior series “Doc McStuffins.”
On the March 13 episode of “Doc McStuffins,” Jones provides the voice for Coach Kay, a small plastic doll with a crack in her whistle that Doc fixes. At first Coach Kay is really nervous about the surgery, but Doc and the toys help her see that sometimes bravery is needed to do what’s best for you.
“The character is so cute,” Jones says. “Not only am I the voice of Coach Kay, I get to sing a song at the end. I changed my voice a little bit, but you can tell it’s me. I was really animated when I did the recording because the show is for a very different demographic than ‘Glee.’ ”
The biggest audience for “Doc McStuffins” are kids ages 2 to 5.
Jones did the recording a year ago during a break from FOX’s “Glee,” where she plays Coach Beiste. After six seasons, the series wraps up March 20.
Jones has been so busy with the final year of “Glee” that she had forgotten she sang a song on “Doc McStuffins.”
The final episode of “Glee” filmed two weeks ago. Jones says the end of the show continues to hit her.
“I really got to work with some amazing kids and adults like Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison,” Jones says. “It’s so disheartening to think we are not going to do it anymore.”
Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Glee,” had cast Jones in “Nip/Tuck” and the TV pilot “Pretty Handsome.” Then he cast her in what was to be a recurring role as Coach Shannon Beiste, who takes over McKinley High’s football team when Coach Ken Tanaka (Patrick Gallagher) has a nervous breakdown.
He only guaranteed her five of the first 13 episodes. But Jones is such a fan of Murphy that she would take any job he offered. The role grew and Jones turned it into three pime-time Emmy Award nominations for guest actress in a comedy series.
Her casting gave the Valley two connections to “Glee.” Clovis East graduate Chris Colfer has played Kurt Hummel for the entire run of the show.
Jones’ connection to the Valley started when the Hilmar native transferred to Fresno State in 1984 after spending two years at Modesto Junior College. She had only been out of high school a year when she entered — and won — her first arm-wrestling competition.
The 6-foot-4 Jones went on to be a 15-time world and six-time national arm-wrestling champion.
Jones worked at Fresno County Juvenile Hall after graduating from college. She got involved in acting after meeting Shirley Eson, who played Sky on “American Gladiators,” and auditioned for the 1992 competition series “Knights and Warriors.”
That led to roles on “Married With Children,” “Roseanne,” “Birds of Prey,” “Lizzie McGuire” and other TV shows.
Jones is thankful for the big storylines on “Glee,” including this season when Coach Beiste prepares to transition to becoming a man. The plot is similar to the one Murphy created for Jones in “Pretty Handsome,” but that show didn’t get picked up.
Jones believes she looks like her real brother when she plays Coach Sheldon Beiste.
One of the things that makes it so hard to let “Glee” go is the fans. Many have been touched by the work Jones has done, whether it be young girls dealing with tomboy issues or women involved in domestic violence or those transitioning.
“I had one man who was transitioning contact me to say, ‘Thank you. I never thought I would see someone like me on TV.’ After the domestic violence episodes, women told me that our show gave them the strength to get out of their own abusive relationship,” Jones says.
From the moment she read the first “Glee” script, Jones knew that the show was a hit. She never expected it to become so important in so many people’s lives.
Now that “Glee” is ending, Jones is looking at other options. Nothing has been finalized, but she knows it’s going to take a special project to equal what she’s had during her time on “Glee.”