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17
Feb
In:
Broadway, Children's Theatre
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Artists That Shaped Us – Braxton O. Johnson

Originally from DeSoto, TX, Braxton Johnson made his Casa Mañana debut in Grace for President as “Sam.” Soon after, he wowed audiences in our Reid Cabaret Theatre production of You Send Me – The Life and Music of Sam Cooke and on the Mainstage in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as “Sam the Snowman.” Haven’t seen him on stage? Don’t miss him March 18-April 3 in Shrek the Musical as “Donkey!” Purchase tickets here: https://tinyurl.com/CMShrek. 

Braxton Johnson | Photo by Chip Tompkins

His journey to the stage began in church – singing, performing in Christmas plays and giving Easter speeches. “The Black church is an experience like no other. Some of the best African American talents in history were curated in the Black church.” Braxton remembers sitting quietly during the sermon, noticing the ways his pastor used his words to invoke emotion, “Every Sunday was like a new chapter of a play.” He would later use that passion and emotion to ignite his career. 

This Black History Month, Braxton is celebrating by taking up space. “Although being [as] authentic as possible is something I strive to do every day of the year, during Black History Month, I turn it up just a notch… or 12.” 

Braxton offers some simple advice, “Everyone can learn and become better when we do not hide our differences. When we expose our differences and walk in our truth, it allows people to notice and seek knowledge [about] what they do not understand.” 

He also adds, “I am celebrating being a working Black actor that is not relegated to only “Black” roles, which I something I strive for in my career.” More importantly, he emphasizes that to him, Black history means knowledge. “Acknowledging, learning and understanding the integral role Black Americans have played in the building of this country is crucial.” 

CM: Name one artist that inspires you. 

BJ: “Viola Davis. She is a true titan of the stage and is one of the rare artists that got where she is through grit and hard work. Everything she has rests on her talent and talent alone.” 

*Braxton recommends watching her “King Hedley II” performance at the 2001 Tony Awards. “Talk about wielding power through words. I highly suggest everyone watch – it’s a masterclass.” You can watch it here: https://tinyurl.com/ViolaDavis-KingHedleyII 

CM: Are there any artists you want to shout out who are making moves in this space? 

BJ: “Dang near everyone! James McQuillen, for not only being a kick-ass music director but an advocate for actors. Katie Matson, for acknowledging Black History Month and Black performers. ALL the BIOPOC performers who I’ve had the pleasure of performing with under the Dome: Joshua McLemore, Arianna Hardaway, Kevin Solis, Michael Anthony Sylvester, Ania Lyons, Phillip Brown, Curtis Wiley AND many others!” 

CM: What’s next? 

BJ: “Hopefully, more shows at Casa! Although I’m excited to see what DFW theatre has to offer, Casa has become “Mi Casa.” The bittersweet thing about this profession is we never really know what the future holds. I did hear from a little birdie that you’ll be seeing me as a certain talking donkey soon. Stay tuned!” 

 

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