Julia Jones was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She is of English, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and African-American descent and considers herself multiethnic. Jones studied at The Boston Ballet School from the age of 4. She began working in commercials and local theatre when she was eight. Jones graduated from the historic Boston Latin School, the oldest school in America, and later Columbia University with a degree in English. She has modelled in catalogues for Levi's, The Gap, Esprit, and L'Oreal. She appeared in Chuck Wicks's music video for Hold That Thought.
In 2009, she appeared in the Culture Clash play, Palestine, New Mexico, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.