'This Is Us' and 'What Men Want' writer Jas Waters dies: 'Incredibly shocked and saddened'

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Television writer Jas Waters has died at the age of 39.

Her management company, Rain Management, shared the sad news Wednesday.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office reported that Waters died by suicide.

Waters wrote for NBC drama This Is Us in 2017 and 2018. Since then, she had worked as a writer and story editor on Jim Carrey’s Showtime dramedy Kidding. She’s also credited with having written the story for the 2019 Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan movie What Men Want. Her earlier writing credits include the now-defunct shows Hood Adjacent With James Davis on Comedy Central and The Breaks on VH1.

Offscreen, Waters, who went by the nickname Jas Fly, was a journalist who often covered hip-hop music. She also wrote a column for Vibe, and she co-authored a 2018 book, The Missing Piece: Finding the Better Part of Me: A Love Journey, with Rob Hill Sr.

The Evanston, Ill., native described herself as “very audacious” in a November 2018 interview with online magazine Shadow and Act, which focused on being a black woman in the entertainment industry.

“A billion things had to conspire together for me to get here. Listen, I was raised in an old folks’ home,” said Waters, who was raised by her grandmother. “I never had a traditional life; I never had a safe, cookie-cutter, predictable, affirming life. From the moment I got here, the rules didn’t apply to me. If the basic rules of raising a kid didn’t apply to me, then nothing else really applies to me. So I just had to figure it out. There were several times in my life that I found to be very confining. But as I look back on it, it was very freeing.”

Growing up, Waters said, she watched everything: Seinfeld and Martin, Scarface and Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias and Beaches.

“My manager and I very purposefully only went after jobs that were unexpected and audacious, and that would show that I could do anything,” Waters said. “So I went from a ‘90s hip-hop drama to late-night sketch comedy on Comedy Central — which as a black female writer, you don’t get Comedy Central jobs; there’s been like four or five. That was helpful in proving to my agency and also the town that I could do more than just one thing.”

Her good works included organizing a free screening of Black Panther for hundreds of foster and at-risk kids in Los Angeles when it was released in 2018.

Waters’s colleagues and loved ones, including This Is Us stars Susan Kelechi Watson, Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz, were devastated by the loss.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

This post was originally published June 10 and updated to include cause of death.

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