“That freaks me out!” exclaims Johnson at the notion of how her famous <em>House Party</em> dance scene she shared with Tisha Campbell-Martin is now celebrated as iconic cinema over two decades later. “What you see on camera is us having fun, literally!” recalls Johnson, and “now twenty-one years later we celebrate it as one of the baddest dance battle scenes in movie history.”
Written and directed by Reginald Hudlin, <em>House Party</em> starring the rap duo Kid ‘n play was theatrically released on March 9, 1990 and was an instant success. “I think what people gravitate towards and what got affected by all these years later is what was very, very real for us which is . . . the energy of true and real friendship,” offers Johnson surmising, “I think a lot of people have that experience but had just never seen it on film at that time.”
Fast-forward eleven years to June 29, 2001 and Johnson delivers her most memorable character opposite Ving Rhames as Juanita, the single mother raising Jody (portrayed by Tyrese Gibson) in John Singleton’s critically acclaimed <em>Baby Boy</em>. “Tyrese and I, we can’t be in the same room without ‘momma what you doing?’ [and] I just think that . . .between <em>House Party</em> and <em>Baby Boy</em>, there’s a lot great ‘beginning’ in both of those films and I think the energy and the chemistry of that is what has made both films so iconic,” reminisces Johnson.
The future leading lady’s pre-Hollywood ‘beginnings’ take root at the iconic Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where Johnson matriculated majoring in chemistry in pursuit of a medical degree before finding success on the big screen. “Spelman calling me was also another dream come true because in 2011,” Johnson explains as she “really wanted to do more work on the HBCU level because obesity is killing us and lot of us even in this college age arena don’t understand what it is or how to combat it.”
Now five years removed from a director’s direction, Johnson now guides and directs the healthy choices of everyday people and celebrities alike as the owner of her lifestyle and wellness company The AJ Zone. “As an actress you are an employee, but how about you can decide the success that you live or the failure that you live,” believes Johnson, herself diagnosed a borderline diabetic, urging the “power in prevention . . . so that you don’t have to live with diseases that can be cured at this age and this stage … and that’s part of our philosophy at the AJ Zone.”
It’s a philosophy that many were recently introduced to via Johnson’s appearance on the November airing of her TV One’s <em>Life After</em>. “The response to The AJ Zone since then has been completely unexpected ... and that fact that so many people spoke words of inspiration having seen it, I was happy,” reveals a relieved Johnson now the better for it having previously foregoing appearance opportunity three times prior explaining, “I didn’t realize that my family had seen so much in me [and] sometimes support doesn’t come dressed the way that you want it [but] when you know that they love you, you’ve got to also know they are not going to steer you wrong.”
And as far as steering herself back to the silver screen, Johnson offers, “Absolutely, I never say that I’m not acting. I never said that I stopped acting. If the right opportunity came . . . I would love to see what would happen to go back on screen.”