Rashida Leah Jones was born on February 25, 1976 in Los Angeles, California to actress Peggy Lipton and media mogul Quincy Jones. Together with her sister Kidada, Rashida was raised in Bel Air, California. Jones was educated at the Buckley School, Hebrew school and was able to make it to the National Honor Society. When she was 10 years old, her parents divorced, forcing her to live with her mother. She later moved on to study at Harvard University, where she initially wanted to take up law. Jones soon lost interest in the field of study after watching O.J. Simpson's trial. She then became involved in theater while studying religion and philosophy.
Rashida launched her acting career in 1997, when she worked on The Last Don. Since then, she began working on various projects, including If These Walls Could Talk 2 and Little Black Book. She eventually became part of the series Boston Public, where she played Louisa Fenn, a role which earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination. She also appeared on Freaks and Geeks, Stella (the pilot), Wanted and Ny-lon. In 2006, Jones became part of the third season of NBC's The Office, where she played the role of Karen Filippelli. She was also cast in the short-lived comedy Unhitched, produced by the Farrelly brothers.
Aside from acting, Jones is also involved in singing. Rashida is the former member and music director for Harvard's oldest co-ed a cappella group, The Harvard Opportunes. As a group, they performed an arrangement composed by Jones' father, Quincy, on the 1997 CD, Candy for the Children. She also sang for pop rock band Maroon 5's songs from both of their albums, Songs About Jane and It Won't Be Soon Before Long.
In 2002 and 2007, she was listed as one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, and was also named as Harper's Bazaar's Best Dressed Women In America in 2007.