Jamal Johnson Scores Leading Role in 3-time, Award-winning Film, “2 Wrongs”
2 Wrongs is a cinema portraying the life of a single father with a troubled past, who dreams of creating a better life for his daughter. The film addresses manifesting issues today revolving around single parenting, racial profiling and bullying, with the title being the reflective message, “Does two wrongs make a right? The film won Special Jury Award & Official Selection -World Film Fair New York, Best Dramatic Short Film- Blastoff 2018, Official Selection-SOUQ Film Festival 2018, and Award of Merit- Accolade Global Film Competition. The introspective script is written and delivered by filmmaker, Andy Cruz, who’s known for his work on Perception 2017, 2 Wrongs 2018, Down & Out 2019, and Netflix Original show, The Ranch 2016-2018.
Jamal L. Johnson was an accomplished Division 1 collegiate athlete. Even though he loved his status that came with playing sports, he found more of a passionate resolve with acting. Johnson received a bachelor’s Degree for Arts in Communications. After receiving his degree, he moved to New York and pursued acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. The thespian said that the it was collimation of family that helped with transition into the arts. “I have an aunt who was a member of a gold album singing group with Barry Gordy of Motown Records,” says Johnson. “I used to hang around her and I would go to Barry Gordy’s house with her. I think being around the music industry in general, it caroused my initial interest in pursuing the entertainment industry. My parents were educated but very artistic. They took me to many plays and musicals when I was growing up. I attended a progressive independent school. Early in my life and while at that actual school we performed a lot of plays as well, everything from the typical Wizard of Oz to Shakespeare. I think at that earlier age, I really caught the acting buzz. As I got older, the girls weren’t necessarily interested in the actors. They were interested in the athletes. I kind of transitioned over into pursuing sports to be more of the popular kid than being more than the acting kid. Eventually, I went to college and the acting buzz came back within me. I did some commercials in college. I did some voiceover as well. I did some independent films with the students at the university. From there, I went to New, York, and that’s where I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.” According to Johnson, his experience at the American Academy for Dramatic Arts was phenomenal. He still takes classes from time-to-time, beefing up his skills. “Actors never stop learning,” he said. “I have an amazing acting teacher Fran Montano. He’s taught acting over 30-years. I like to pop into his class on occasions to reinvigorate myself to make sure I’m still engaged in the work. As actors, we always want to make sure that we keep that tool sharp as possible especially when were in preparation to do a movie, film or something that’s going to require you to be truthful in every single form, which is how I’m able to be and perform in “2 Wrongs.” Johnson is a married father of two, which is different from his character. He confirmed that the story-line allowed him to view the worldly issues inversely, and from the perspective of a single father.
“I’ve never necessarily been unaware with things that happen in society. I think that’s one of the reason’s I gravitated to this role and accepted role that was offered to me. Just knowing that the subject matter was so relevant to what’s going on in today’s world, it really gravitated to me. In 12 minutes, the film accomplished topics from racial profiling, to bullying, to certain social injustices. All those things have been going on a while. We haven’t been aware of it as we are now because now, everybody can be a journalist with their phone. They can catch these moments in real-time. Before, they didn’t have the phones. They didn’t have these cameras. They didn’t have the space to share these moments that are happening today that people weren’t as aware of and that includes people of all cultures and races. When I took on the role, I was very familiar. My father was a professor in African Studies at the Junior College locally. He taught a lot about history and African history, and all these things. Looking at that role and knowing what’s going on today, in America, in general, I said I’d love to be part of it. I would love to really be truthful in every single scene and share what my reason of the role is to this project.” The native of Los Angeles, California, states that he did a lot of research, but he doesn’t feel stretched in the role. He examined, to get into the mindset of his character. He also shares that there were a few similarities with himself and the character. “There were a few choices that Devin made that I wouldn’t have made personally, but that’s the beauty of playing that character. I could understand Devin’s point of view when it came to certain things and certain elements that he was involved in throughout the course of the film and how I can relate when I can fully engage with the character. I truly enjoyed being able to dive into becoming that character and projecting my truth as that character for the role.”
Johnson breaks down the character to better understand who he is, his background and the mechanisms that’s driving him to make the choices that he makes. The writers create the story, where the information is given in the script. “Once I find the information that’s given to that character, I’ll take that next step and go online. Then, once I go online, I type in the information as it relates to a single father. The internet is amazing, now. I’ve been acting on and off for about 20-years. I remember when preparing for a character, you didn’t have it as easy as sensible research.” The actor points out other facets of analyzing the character which includes YouTube videos, and studying real life individuals that’s going through the same pain as the character, which includes the person’s body language and characteristics when dealing with similar crisis. He also says that actors that are looking to break into the business, should continue to learn and grown by working on their craft. They can also do self-tapes, while using the same scripts after auditions, and test-drive their skills with the people that are closest to them. The goal is to gain honest feedback from people that are gut-wrenching honest. Johnson booked his role after submitting self-takes. He auditioned three or four times, before landing the role that would soon become a multi award-winning success. Andy Cruz loved Johnson’s work and continued to create with him from that point onward. “In terms of him offering the role in “2 Wrongs,” is Andy seeing my work. Yes, I one hundred percent agree with networking or whenever it may be or however you network, whether its attending mixers and meeting producers, directors and casting directors. At the end of the day, they are going to need to see your work. If you can show them your ability through your work, they’re going to hire you eventually. I really feel that’s the most important thing. It goes back to working on your craft. Even for me, I’m my biggest critic. I have such a long way to go. I now look at so many amazing actors nowadays and I say, ‘Wow, that person is amazing.’ Like, Sterling K. Brown. He brings so much authenticity to his roles on “This Is Us.” He’s been doing it for a long time. People only know him from “This is Us,” and Chadwick Boseman as well. These guys are amazing actors. They’ve been doing it for some time but [success] only came since “Black Panther.” Now, Chadwick Boseman is an international superstar. But, didn’t you guys see him play “Jackie Robinson?” Did you see him play “James Brown?” When you think about that, that’s what it really boils down to. You must show your ability through your work, and from there, people are going to really gravitate to you anyway. I find myself sometimes not being as open and as truthful I want to be. For us actors, it’s mental. It’s so mental. If we’re mentally there, present and aware, all of us can really give it our all, but if we are not there and there’s something that I’m thinking about like forgetting to pay the light bill, and I have this audition, I’m not going to be present. I think the biggest thing for actors is being able to separate their real life to be in that make-believe world one-hundred percent. Because, if you can do that and separate your real life and just say, ‘I’m going to be one-hundred percent in this make-believe role even for the 3 minutes of this audition. I don’t care about anyone else that’s sitting down auditioning for this role. I’m going to be one-hundred percent, present, right here, in this room. I am this character. Nine times out of ten, they will book you for that role. I think that’s where a lot of us actors, especially the ones that are coming up, and I do it too, sometimes—That’s when we have that last-minute doubt that we didn’t book the role. It’s because you must be present. There are so many things that are mental for the actors. Working on that is huge. Part of that is being able to separate your real-life and being in the make-believe world that you’re about to create when you audition. Once you get on set, everything becomes real. You see the cars, makeup and the outfit, but it’s really the pre-process. That’s the hardest thing, the pre-process. Going back to the original question, whenever I’m one-hundred percent, present for the audition, I always book the role. That’s some additional advice that I can give to further other actors.” As Johnson explained, he’s completely engaged with his character. He considers himself a present actor, and that’s not to be confused with a method actor. This means that he will live on set, without seeing his family just so he can embody the characters thoughts, feelings, gestures and his hurt. Johnson knew that because of his extreme devotion to the role, he’s not surprised that the film won an award. The actor is a perfectionist who should be paired with other great actors during a motion picture. When asked if he’d want to work with Denzel Washington, Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman, he said that he wanted to work with all three in a movie. “I had the opportunity to see several films with those actors growing up. Obviously, Denzel Washington probably done the latter of the films. I feel like Jack Nicolson has been around since the 60’s, where Denzel probably started around the late 80’s on a TV show after going to Fordham University. Then, Dustin Hoffman, it’s the same thing. Denzel Washington is probably the most current day in age of the actors, but I would love to work with all of them if I had the opportunity.” Speaking of profound things that inspire him, Johnson said that he was inspired by 90’s movie "The Red Violin." “A lot of people don’t know about that movie or independent film. It told the story of a violin across 4 centuries and 4 or 5 different cultures. The movie was so intriguing and beautifully shot and beautifully made, it gave me that reinvigoration to take that step and go to New York and audition. I had to audition for theater school here, in L.A, and they accepted me. I attended theater school in New York, but as for the movie… It’s one of my favorite movies till this date. Samuel L. Jackson is in that movie. I just remember that movie. It was very impactful. I saw it and it sparked something in me. I said, “This is a masterpiece!” I would love to continue my work and be able to do films that crosses platforms from action, to horror, to romance, to thriller, anything that allows me to feel honest and feel that spark that you receive as actor when you perform that exceptional piece of work.” I am always inspired by Movies in this generation that have authenticity, depth and fullness, The way filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler and Jordan Peele lead daring architectural film making… and, let’s not forget actors like Mahershala Ali or Leonardo Dicaprio who personify the characters in storylines that aroused indicative emotion from viewers. Johnson believes that it’s the studio running the film, and it’s all about the capital. “I was listening to a podcast and they were explaining how Good Will Hunting wouldn’t have been made currently because a lot of production studios are focusing on the international success of the film.” He went on to address that films are a risk, and you don’t know if the feature will capture the attention of its audience, and that can mean a financial flop. Studios don’t want to take that risk; “I don’t know if we’re missing things in production or if production doesn’t want to take those risks like they use to take them 10 or 15 years ago.” This upcoming year, Johnson is taking risks. He plans to book as many roles as he can. He’s working on comedy, Down & Out. Johnson also confirmed that he’s in prep-production for another short film called The Power of Will, to which he also will serve as a producer. In conclusion, Johnson wanted readers to continue to be a dream chaser. “Chasing dreams, it doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, or middle aged. I don’t think there’s an age limit to being able to chase your dreams. Life happens, but chasing your dreams is the most important thing to me. Just like Fredrick Douglas said, “Without struggle, there’s no progress.” With each heartache and obstacle, progress is not far away. I have always been a true believer of that.”