Anjelah Johnson - Our Family Wedding
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
Funny girl Anjelah Johnson (right) has been keeping busy in the entertainment industry for the last few years. From her performances as a stand-up comedienne to her short stint as an NFL cheerleader, itís all been a natural progression for Johnson, who moved to L.A. in 2003 to pursue an acting career.
In Our Family Wedding, the second wide-release film of her career, Johnson, who is of Mexican and Native American descent, plays Izzy, the tomboyish sister of America Ferreraís character who surprises her traditional Hispanic family when she tells them she is engaged to a black guy.
During an interview with me, Johnson talked about her time as an Oakland Raiderette, what kind of advice she got from Carlos Mencia, and what it means to ďsleep like a princess.Ē
You were in one episode of Ugly Betty last year where you interview Betty about her blog. So, Iíll ask the same first question you ask Betty on that show: Who are you dying to bitch out?
Yoohoo! Man, nobody! Iím on good terms with everyone right now, so itís all good. (Laughs)
What did you think about Ugly Betty getting cancelled?
Iíve been a fan of the show since the first episode. When I heard it was cancelled, I was sad. Iím friends with America and we talked about it. I told her it was a blessing that she was able to be a part of such an amazing show. Iím happy for her and the show because it did get to run for four seasons, but Iím sad to see it go.
Was it your idea to mention a manicure in one of your first scenes in Our Family Wedding since that is a big part of your stand-up routine?
When do I talk about a manicure?
At the beginning of the movie, you talk about someone getting a manicure.
Oh, when I shake Lanceís [Gross] hand I say he has soft girly hands and ask if he got a manicure. I didnít even correlate the two! Thatís pretty funny. (Laughs)
I thought it was a reference to your stand-up.
No, not at all. I try to veer away from that as much as possible.
I heard you say in a past interview that youíre a lot like your character Izzy. Would you consider yourself as much of a tomboy as she is?
(Laughs) Yes, I do, definitely. Iím not over-the-top to where itís like butchy, but Iím definitely a jeans and tennis type of girl with my hair in a ponytail. But I donít like to get dirty. I hate it when my hands are dirty. Thatís one of my pet peeves.
What would you consider the girliest thing about you other than getting manicures?
The girliest thing about me is that I sleep like a princess. I have like seven pillows all around me in a big U shape. When I toss and turn I always have a pillow to hold onto. I have a huge king-size bed just for me.
Other than sleeping like a princess, you donít seem to fit in that princess mold. But I read that you were a professional cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders. That, to me, sounds really girly.
Well, I grew up doing competitive cheerleading where it wasnít so girly. It was more of a sport. We were competing and doing a lot of tumbling and stunts. We would get injured. We were tough cheerleaders. But when I went to the Oakland Raiders, that was a totally different story. It was very girly and showy. That was different for me. When my friend first asked me if I wanted to audition for the Raiders I was like, ďNo way. Thatís so not my skill set.Ē But it ended up working out.
You only did the pro cheerleading thing for one year. Why did you stop?
Well, it was at this time in my life where I didnít know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to act, but I didnít know how to get started. So, I used the Raiders crew as my sign. I told myself if I make the team I would use it to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. So, I made the squad, cheered for one year and went to the Super Bowl that year, and then came home at the end of the season and packed my bags and moved to L.A. and have been here ever since.
How did you and Carlos Menica get along since both of you come from a stand-up background?
He and I get along great. Weíve worked with each other before. We did a show together where it was me, Carlos, Cedric the Entertainer, and a lot of other comedians on the bill. He actually pulled me to the side and gave me a pep talk. My career in stand-up had moved so fast. Iíve gotten where I am in such a short amount of time. He gave me the heads up and told me, ďYou know, thereís going to be some hatersÖPeople are going to say this and say that.Ē It was almost like a fatherly-type talk. When we found out he was playing my father in this movie, it was an easy transition because we already established that relationship.
Speaking of haters, both you and Carlos have been criticized for some of your stand-up material. Some people say itís racist. What do you think when you hear things like that? Are people being oversensitive?
I could say people are oversensitive, but to each his own. What offends me might not offend somebody else and vice versa. None of my material comes from a mean spirit or a mean heart where Iím trying to hurt somebodyís feelings. All my comedy is observational. I just talk about things that I see. A lot of the time itís true and truth hurts. I guess that why people sometimes get upset.
Is film something you want to focus on now?
Yeah, I moved to L.A. to pursue acting and stand-up kind of fell onto my plate. Itís been a blessing and I enjoy stand-up, but acting is definitely what I love to do and what I came here to do. Iím looking forward to growing and flourishing in my acting career in film and TV. Stand-up will be there, too. Itís like a creative outlet for me where I can write my own material and perform.
Can you tell me about your role in the upcoming Marmaduke movie?
I play a voice of one of the dogs. Sheís like the ditzy dog. It was a lot of fun for me. I was able to improv a lot.
On your website, you sell a t-shirt that reads, ďI Have a Big Butt.Ē Can a guy get away with buying that for his girlfriend or wife or would you advise against that?
Iím sure they can if thatís a joke they theyíve talked about and laughed about. Iíve had a bunch of guys buy that shirt for their girlfriends. Theyíll come up to me and say, ďOh, this is so perfect for my girlfriend!Ē Iím like, ďUh, well make sure she feels the same way!Ē