From TV to Broadway, Keean Johnson does it all!
Did you know Keean Johnson was actually on Broadway before on TV? Now the new face of HUB Network and on their new show, Spooksville, Keean, actually started on Broadway in the Tony-award winning play, Billy Elliott. Acting isn’t his only passion though. Keean loves to surf and loves photography. He’s learned from his cousin who is also a photographer. To see some of the breathtaking photos Keean took and find out about this talented actor, read on!
GLITTER: So tell us about Spooksville, why should people watch the show?
KEEAN: I would say, because I think it’s really like nothing else. We were able to shoot on location and I was able to do stunts and action. I was able to act with different creatures, like zombies and vampires. It’s the craziest show that I couldn’t compare it to anything. The thing is, it’s not cheesy and it’s super real. The writers really know how to write like a kid. So he really knows what we would say, and I think it comes out really naturally.
GLITTER: That’s really special. So you play Adam on the show. How does the character relate to the plot?
KEEAN: What happens is, basically Adam’s mother disappears. She doesn’t pass away, but she just disappears out of nowhere. Adam thinks she just left him, and he’s betrayed in some way. It was very hard on their family so George, Adam’s dad, thinks it would be better to move to another town. At the time, Adam lives in a city. They want to start over. They picked a town called Springville, and that definitely was not the right choice for started over again. The very first day Adam moves there, these two kids come up to him and tell him that this is a supernatural place. Adam is still sad about his mother, and just wants to be normal again. The very first night that Adam is in Springville, a creature comes to attack him, and that basically starts Adam to think, “Oh crap! This is not the town for me to start over at.”
GLITTER: So would you say that’s how you roll into the plot?
KEEAN: Yeah! What happens is Adam wants NOTHING to do with it. He just wants to join the football team and be normal. But something about his mother comes up in one of our episodes, and it basically is Adam hook that one day he might find his mother in Spooksville. He has to go and find these clues and this adventure to find out what’s going on in “Spooksville,” or Springville as people call it.
GLITTER: So what’s it like being on your first real TV show? We know that you came from Broadway, and now you are on a TV set! What is that like?
KEEAN: It’s COMPLETELY different to anything I’ve ever done. I started dancing when I was 5-years-old. My life was dance. One day I was asked to audition for an acting job called Billy Elliot, and I was super excited that someone thought about me. I did, and I went on this long journey to booking the show, and that’s when I discovered acting. It was a crazy adventure. I think I did 700 performances on the show. After I finished, I couldn’t think about going back to Colorado. I was just driven to acting. I immediately went to LA with the support of my family, who have still supported me so much now. I was one of the very, very lucky ones that booked Spooksville. It’s a teen show that I fell into and didn’t expect to get the role. I was so happy. When I came onto set, it was nothing like I’d ever done before.
GLITTER: And you were doing it live!!
KEEAN: Yeah! It’s so different. It’s so much more interactive, I felt, the acting that you are able to do is more real. I wasn’t performing, I was putting myself into the situation, and there just happened to be a camera watching me. It was really fun going on that journey of acting with a camera. I’d never done that before. I’m so thankful for everyone that gave me a chance because it’s so hard for kids to come to LA and book anything. People aren’t really big on giving chances, so I’m so happy Spooksville gave me that chance.
GLITTER: Do you have a preference? Are you just in love with being on camera right now? Or do you want to go back to theatre?
KEEAN: To be honest, I’ve been asked this question a lot and it’s just anything where I get to act and play a role that I feel would push me that much farther. I would love to go back to theatre, but I’d also love to book a TV show or movie. Anything. Not just acting! I’m now seeing all the different avenues in the business about direction and cinematography. It’s all so intriguing, and I really want to learn about it all.
GLITTER: That’s really cool. I think sometimes people just go into the business thinking “I’m just going to do TV shows, or just going to do movies.” So I think it’s great you aren’t limited yourself in that way.
KEEAN: Yeah! I really want to do anything. Even if I was just asked to come and watch on a set and learn about different shots, I would just love to do it.
GLITTER: So what made you think that acting was for you? When did it click that this was for you?
KEEAN: You know, doing Billy Elliot, I didn’t really think about it as acting. I had these lines, and there was a lot of dancing and singing and I thought it was just more of a show I was putting on. After leaving the show, I learned what acting really was. There was this very nice casting director named Claire Simon in Chicago, who saw me play the role and she said, “You know, you should really go to LA and go out there?”
GLITTER: Wow! Were you surprised? Like, “Oh my gosh!”
KEEAN: I was just SO happy that she saw my role and telling me that I did a good job. I was so thankful for that. She really believed in me, and sent me out on all these different interviews and got my agent that I have now, and my manager that still represent me now. I really want to give thanks to Claire Simon for setting all that up for me. I would’ve been living in Vermont if I didn’t come to LA. That’s where my dad’s work was placed, so I’ve been so happy to have my whole family move to LA.
GLITTER: So your family was able to come with you?
KEEAN: Yes. See, basically what a lot of families do is leave home and come with their children. That works for them, but it really didn’t work for our family. We went 3 months without my dad, and we could barely take it. So my dad picked up, and my dad’s boss nicely let him work from California and I’m so happy I get to experience this with them.
GLITTER: That’s awesome that you guys didn’t have to get separated in that way.
KEEAN: Yeah. It’s really hard for a lot of the kids with parents that are separated.
GLITTER: A lot of our readers want to be in your position. Its “glamorous,” but tell us what a day on set is really like. It’s not just glamour is it? Give us a taste.
KEEAN: Well, every day is a little different. You wake up, you go to set, right when you get there you quickly have your breakfast. I’d have to eat my breakfast in 3.2 seconds. Throw your clothes on, jump in the hair and makeup trailer, and then go straight to set. The night before you are always running your lines, and I had 8 to 9 pages of lines I had to learn every day. You rehearse a few times, and then start filming. We would do about 4 or 5 scenes in the day. You HAVE to know your lines. It’s very hard if you come to work and you are learning the lines as you are shooting. I was really lucky to have both my costars know their lines, so it was so great to work with them. We had a blast on set. But it wasn’t all play. We really had to work hard and make sure we got a good shot. I’m always learning, always training. I’ll always keep on learning and going to class.
GLITTER: So is this a full day? When do you get to go home?
KEEAN: It’s basically a ten hour day, depending on the start. I’d wake up late in the day, around ten a.m., which is late for me. I’d work until 2 or 3 in the morning. We had a lot of night shoots. Those were my favorite because no one else was there, and it was dark and the set feel was different. We either start at 6 in the morning or super late at night. You never know.
GLITTER: Wow. So if you could with anyone, dead or alive, who would you want to work with?
KEEAN: I’d say from an acting perspective, Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to, and the movies he’s done have always been my favorite. From a director’s perspective, Stephen Daldry. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him already, and every time I’m in town he lets me go on set and see what it looks like. I’d love to work with him again.
GLITTER: That would be really fun. So would you say you are close with everyone on set? You’re with everyone all day!
KEEAN: So what’s funny is that on the show, our characters aren’t friends at first. But then we become a really close net of friends. When I first came on set I was like, “Oh gosh, what if we turn out to have the worst relationship.” But it turned out from the first day of reading, we all clicked. We became the best of friends. And even with filming being over, we still Skype each other. We became a really good family. Even the crew was great; the makeup and hair ladies were so nice.
GLITTER: If you weren’t acting in any way, theatre or filming, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
KEEAN: Hmm…. I’m actually really into photography. My cousin’s a photographer. I’ve learned from him, and every time I’d go hiking or on set I was always taking pictures and editing them. I also love traveling and surfing, which is another one of my passions.
GLITTER: What would you say is the best part of your job?
KEEAN: Being able to act. There isn’t many people that get to say they act for a living, and at sixteen, I’m at least trying to be able to say that I do this for a living. I don’t want to do anything else.
GLITTER: What is next for you?
KEEAN: Right now, it’s just anything. I’m auditioning for as much as I can. I’m hoping to get something where I can play a completely different character. Depending on how people like the show, I’d love to go back.