Although some interests are innate, the hobbies and passions that people actually pursue and eventually build a career in later in life could be formed as early as childhood. That being said, parents or guardians automatically have some amount of influence on the things that their children ought to be interested in growing up. The power of this influence was evident in actor Jamal Johnson’s career.
Although born in Los Angeles, California, Jamal was raised in Pasadena by his two devoted parents—Willie Mae and Javis Johnson. The actor is of North African, Native American, and Caucasian descent. Jamal was tall growing up, towering at a height of 6 foot, 4 inches. This made him athlete material, a potential that was eventually realized in high school when he became a standout athlete, later on playing in Division 1 Collegiate Athletics. With this kind of background and the physical build that he had, there was no denying Jamal had dreams of becoming a professional athlete someday.
Jamal also has a background in karate, earning a black belt from the Shinjimasu International Karate Association in 2001. In the succeeding years, he competed in several tournaments across the United States, championing several times in sparring, as well as the heavyweight division. Unfortunately, this streak was concluded due to a knee injury the actor suffered in not long after. A long time fitness advocate, Jamal was also able to attain from the University of San Francisco a master’s degree in sports and fitness management.
Earlier in his life however, his parents—who were both educators and huge fans of the theatre arts—began taking him to live theatre shows, which was a way to escape the different vices rampant during the 1980s. Jamal shares in an interview with VoyageLA, “I grew up with either my head in the books or going to plays with my parents. Some of the plays I saw were Dreamgirls, Fences, Annie, and A raisin in the sun. I think it was there that I initially gained my interest.”
Before he knew it, he was performing lead roles in Shakespearean plays every year and went on to star in more plays in high school. His love for the theatre arts and acting kept growing; however, it was about that time as well when his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Jamal began focusing on looking out after his old man while attending school and still doing sports. Not long after, he was able to graduate high school with honors and even got an athletic college scholarship. Unfortunately, by this time, his dad’s condition had only worsened.
In college, his love for performing and acting was reignited, which inspired him to do some gigs in modeling, runway shows, voice-overs, and TV commercials. Years later, he was able to accomplish his bachelor of arts degree in communications and went on to study the art of theatre at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He worked hard for a year, mainly doing co-star and supporting roles in films.
It was around this time—two weeks before his birthday and right before an audition—when he received a call about his father being unresponsive at home. He rushed to their place, and his father was taken to the hospital. A day later, his father passed away in front of him. It took Jamal some time to recover from that loss, considering that he and his dad shared a special relationship. However, he pushed himself to get back on his feet and continue doing what his father would have wanted him to do, which was for Jamal to pursue his dream. This is precisely what the actor has been doing ever since.
Today, the actor is commonly known for his role as Devon in the international award-winning short film 2 Wrongs, which was produced by his production company 11-16 Entertainment. He is happily married with two delightful daughters.
He is continually building his brand as an actor to this day and looks forward to starring in TV series shows and more films soon.