Actress and life coach AJ Johnson has given us laughs, body, and plenty of dance moves with her notable roles in “House Party” and “Baby Boy.” Now her wellness expertise will help improve the lives of others on TV One’s new series, “Life Therapy with AJ Johnson.”
Johnson spoke with Atlanta Black Star exclusively on Thursday, Oct. 28, to discuss some of her iconic roles, the “House Party” reboot and how she improves the lives of others through counseling.
Johnson is best known for her role as “Sharane” in the 1990s cult classic film, “House Party.” She choregraphed the routine she and Tisha Campbell performed during the dance-off scene against Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin of the famous hip-hop duo Kid ’n Play.
When asked about the “House Party“ reboot from the film’s original director, Reginald Hudlin, Johnson felt there was no need to replicate an iconic film.
“I personally did not believe in the reboot,” she declared. “I understand maybe doing a sequel or prequel, but a reboot? I just feel like sometimes things are iconic for a reason, and it may be better just to let it be. That’s my take.”
Audiences were even more thrilled when Johnson joined Larenz Tate in 1994’s “The Inkwell.” Towards the end of the film, Tate’s 16-year-old character Drew spends a night under the stars with Johnson’s 20-year-old character, Heather.
“The story is a spinoff, if you will, a take from Mrs. Robinson, [the character from the book/film “The Graduate”] which was the story about an older woman who has this affair with this younger guy,” Johnson noted. “So because that was the storyline, one, it made it easy and two, Larenz isn’t hard on the eyes.”
Despite appearring in several popular films, Johnson took time off to further her psychology studies as a life coach and fitness trainer. As a result, she gained celebrity clientele such as Steve Harvey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Lindsay Lohan, to name a few.
Johnson contends she took a brief hiatus to get “serious” about building her fitness brand, The AJ Zone.
“I never wanted it to be looked at as something on the side when I wasn’t doing a movie or a TV show. I wanted people to take it seriously,” she explained. “I knew people didn’t know that I was as educated in science as I was. So I wanted people to know how serious I was from that perspective.”
The physically fit actress was more inclined after an Olympic athlete was chosen over her to play the lead female warrior in 2002’s “The Scorpion King,” with Dwayne Johnson.
“That was really the turning point for me to say, ‘OK, I’ve got to really get serious about what I want this brand to be,” she explained. “But you’re never going to tell me I don’t have the body, and I don’t have the [acting] chops. And that’s when I really dug in, and kind of side-stepped away from acting to build the brand.”
Johnson said the “peer pressure of Hollywood” prompted her to “live a life where acting becomes a passion and fun again.”
“I feel like [that’s] a strong reason why TV One came to me and said, ‘Your life is a show. We can figure out how to produce it, but your life is a show,” she stated. “Of course, I was doing a lot of healthy living content already. I did a lot of stuff with OWN and Oprah [Winfrey]. I did a lot of stuff for MTV, a lot of stuff for BET and VH1 recently.“
The actress helped five celebrity couples address their marital problems on “VH1 Couples Retreat” earlier this year, including Ray J and Princess Love.
On her new show, “Life Therapy with AJ Johnson,” she will focus on helping individuals improve their life. In the half-hour wellness, relationships and life coach series, Johnson will offer therapy, support, and guidance to clients just as she helped Gabrielle Union “elevate her life” and ditch her “mean girl” persona.
“We uncovered … part of what has you unhappy is the way that you feel and the way that you feel is coming from this mean girl thing, and the mean girl thing is coming from insecurities. So it’s layers to this s–t, right?” Johnson added. “So with Gab, I think that as we uncovered what was blocking her happiness, we discovered that she was looking for happiness by putting down other people. And then, we mutually decided that wasn’t healthy and it was a bad habit that needed to be broken.”
“ Life Therapy with AJ Johnson” premiered Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 10 p.m ET on TV One.