Film and television roles beckoned for her. Jonelle filmed Cotton Comes to Harlem which starred Godfrey Cambridge, Redd Roxx and was directed by Ossie Davies. She shot a segue, Come Back Charleston Blue.
She won an NAACP Image Award for her role in The River Niger with Lou Gossett, James Earl Jones, and Cicely Tyson. She filmed Hotel New Hampshire with Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe for director Tony Richardson who had directed her earlier in Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Long Beach Theatre.
Come Back Charleston Blue
Jonelle starred off-Broadway in the musical version of Irwin Shaw’s Bury the Dead right after filming Come Back Charleston Blue. New York Times reviewer Walter Kerr saw her performance and was moved to award her the dream of every actor, “a love letter review.” It was soon thereafter that Joseph Papp called her for Two Gentlemen of Verona. Originally planned as one of the New York Shakespeare Festival productions in Central Park, it was giving a rock score at the suggestion of director Mel Shapiro to help give the modern adaptation of the play the proper contemporary flavor. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and won The Drama Desk Award, Drama Critics Award, Outer Circle Award, Theatre World Award.