Working With Hollywood's Finest
By Mende Smith
In 2013’s Red Wing, a film adaptation of George Sand’s epic novella,The Country Waif (Francois Le Champi), we find an up and coming actress who is not holding back. Washington-born actress Breann Johnson gets to shine in her supporting role as the mother the boy never had—Maddie Blanton—a young farmer’s wife. Johnson talked with Reap about her exciting career and the opportunity to work with a handful of Hollywood’s finest. “It was something working with Francis Fisher and Bill Paxton,” Johnson says. “It was really fun. They were both really, really nice and welcoming towards me. Frances Fisher was super nice. She would always compliment me after we’d do a scene and stuff like that. There was this one scene where I literally had one line in a scene between her and Luke Perry and she was like, ‘Oh, I can sense your strength in your acting’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, thanks.’ [Laugh] Yeah, she was really nice and Bill was very into his work and that he wanted the character to be very realistic. So that was good. It was interesting watching the pros work.”
Johnson attended a class with the actor/filmmaker Will Wallace about two years prior and said that "he kept her in mind for the role. When the money came in for the script, he auditioned me and cast me.” Red Wing came out last year on a limited release but still come on DVD. Johnson landed a Best Actress Award for her performance at the Idyllwild Festival of Cinema. "They gave an award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Feature to someone else and so I thought, 'Okay, great' and then they said there’s another person and I was like, 'What?!' Because they normally don’t give out two for one category. What they said was that so many people decided to vote for, because the director, Will Wallace, is also a co-founder of the festival, that they kind of felt like they needed to disqualify me. But, because so many people ended up voting for me anyway they gave out too awards. It was definitely a big surprise,” Johnson says.
In support of the film, Johnson and her cast members have been doing a lot of promotional work on the film festival circuit: Laughlin International, Idyllwild, Sundance and related events. Recently, Johnson wrapped another Wallace film called The Appearing. Of the horror genre, Johnson says she has always liked scary movies and was thrilled to portray a cop searching for missing girls in the film. Theatre acting since the tender age of eight, Johnson says she has always loved being on the stage or in front of the camera. “I always wanted to be an actor, ever since I can remember basically. Yeah, for some reason I never thought to come out to L.A. to be a film and television actor until recently. It’s going really well. I’m actually surprised at how lucky I've been so far, with many people it takes years before they get anything.”
When she is promoting her career, she relies on another one of her passions, cosmetology, to get her own hair and makeup ready. Johnson is also passionate about her vegan diet and the study of martial arts to stay fit inside and out. “I don’t take exercising too seriously, but I’m a very active person naturally,” Johnson says. “I love going on walks, hiking, jogging, swimming. I love basically any physical activity. I love doing it, which is a little unusual but I’m just naturally active. I pretty much find at least a little exercise every day.”
Johnson is happily married, doing the work that she adores and has happy endings all around her. The traits she most prides herself in, she says, is her ability to meet the right people, learn from her mentors, and multi-task. Her high level of energy is also paramount in this business.
“I get to know new people, whether it’s through workshops or classes or table reads or events, auditions, whatever it is, just get to know new people because everybody has something to give and hopefully you have something to give them too and that’s when it’s best,” Johnson says. One of Johnson’s goals is to play in a musical. She loves to sing and says it is a dream of hers to do a musical film in the future. “Oh man, I would do musical theatre but if I did a musical movie, that would be a dream come true. That would be just so much fun. I think, I don’t know, I just think, I feel like I have more to offer in acting. I feel like I could sing and be good at it. Acting is a way of life for me and singing is fun,” Johnson says.
Of her fortune in the business and the study of acting, Johnson asserts that luck "definitely has a lot to play in it." It may be that ‘luck’ was that she just happened to be taking Wallace’s class for two years, and inevitably happened to land a role in one of his films. She laughs at how many ways she has stayed active in the community of Hollywood, and ultimately how it pays off.