Some fans may instantly recognize the name Amy Jo Johnson. With a lengthy career in acting, including roles in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Felicity, and most recently Flashpoint, her fan base has followed her over the years. She has continued to be busy in front of the camera, but things are about to change. With two short films, Bent and Lines, along with a third short coming soon, Johnson is spending more time directing the action, rather than being a part of it. This transition is just another aspect of a woman who manages to perfectly balance her work and personal life, all while successfully running a series of crowdfunding campaigns and beginning her latest role as director. Toronto Film Scene had the opportunity to speak with Amy Jo Johnson about her first feature film, The Space Between, and the crowdfunding behind it, as well as her move to Canada and current pursuit of Canadian citizenship.
Although Johnson has had a very successful career, it’s the way she manages to balance the various aspects of her life that is the most amazing thing about her. Not only is she an actress, but she’s also released a number of albums over the years, directed a few short films, and is also now a mother. Any parent can understand the difficulty in just raising children, but the added job of spending so much time on a set for a television show or short film sounds impossible. Finding the perfect way to maintain her career while also giving time to her family is something that Johnson takes very seriously. “It’s hard to multi task nurturing. When I’m with my daughter, I have to be with my daughter, and that’s great. When she’s at school, I can focus on putting energy on other things.” explains Johnson. That energy that Johnson has for other things is firmly focused right now. An Indiegogo campaign for her first feature film, The Space Between, is running right now, and it requires plenty of social media strategies. Once again, Johnson strives to have a balance between work and her family, even though there must be a lot of work put into promoting the campaign. “When my daughter is home and maybe family time with my husband, then I turn the phone off. It’s usually during the week when my daughter is at school. I consider it work you know. I’m on there to promote the campaign, I keep it within there.”
It’s hard to avoid questions about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when speaking with Amy Jo Johnson, even though that role was over twenty years ago for her. Relying on social media and crowdfunding for her directorial work, it seems appropriate to look into the role that began her career and how it’s benefiting her now. “I could not be making these movies, including The Space Between, without the fan base that I obtained when I was doing Power Rangers twenty years ago. Those kids are now in the late twenties, early thirties, they’re adults and they’re amazing supporters. I have this great group of followers on Twitter and Facebook. Social media and those people are the only way I’d be able to switch gears and start this new career for myself.”
Johnson certainly has quite the group of fans, managing to raise $25,000 for her first short film Bent, and $46,000 for her second short, Lines. She hopes for the same success with her Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between, but she wasn’t always ready to tweet her thoughts to the audience. “Maybe five years ago I was not on Twitter and when I was on Flashpoint I think I drove the producers on the show crazy because I wouldn’t get a Twitter account and I didn’t want it. I think a year before I did Bent I just decided to embrace the social media. I got my Twitter account, and I’m not on there constantly but I’m so glad I did because when it came time to do Bent, I could do the Indiegogo, and I don’t really think you can do a successful crowdfunding campaign without social media.”
Between working as an actor, slowly becoming a director, and starting a family, Johnson also found herself in Canada after living in Los Angeles. “I love it here. I lived in LA for about fifteen years and when I turned 35 I just needed to leave. I needed to decompress, to switch gears. I ended up in Montreal, on a whim I just picked there and moved my entire life, didn’t know anybody, and it was great. When I got Flashpoint and I came to Toronto, I really fell in love with Canada. I love Toronto, and I really feel like I’ve found my home, and my daughter was born in Montreal so she’s Canadian, and my husband is from Quebec, so he’s Canadian. I have no plans on leaving so why not fully feel like I’m a part of it here. I’m a permanent resident. All my papers are in for citizenship. I’m just waiting for that day, that day to go and take my test. It’s almost happening.”
Not only has Amy Jo Johnson fallen in love with Canada, but it was the spark for her move into the directors chair. “I think when I lived in Los Angeles I did want to at some point pursue directing, but honestly I don’t think I had the confidence at that time. I was still stuck in the world of comparing myself and really felt like I was hearing you can’t do it. You can’t act and direct at the same time. Then for some reason in Canada I don’t have those little voices in my ear, my own insecurities. For some reason I feel like I can do it now. I don’t know if it’s just age and a different time in my life, or just less clutter in the air in Toronto than Los Angeles. I find Toronto to be very nurturing, especially in pursuing this new career. It’s these amazing people who I’m meeting that are so helpful and supportive in me making this transition. I don’t know if I would find that in Los Angeles. Maybe I would have, I’m not sure, but I’m definitely really grateful for the people I have come in contact with here in Toronto.”
Speaking with Amy Jo Johnson, it’s easy to see why her fans continue to follow her career, and support her work behind the camera as well. She’s incredibly open and honest, joking around and actually interacting throughout the conversation. She seems to be as interested in her fans as they are in her. She may not have been born in Canada, but there is something that feels uniquely Canadian about Johnson, so it’s no surprise to find that she’s pushing for her citizenship. Her time in front of the camera grows a little shorter now, but she continues to take small roles in her own films. As long as the fans continue to support Johnson’s work through her Indiegogo campaigns, there will always be a new chance to see her on-screen.
You can support her crowdfunding campaign for The Space Between, and find out more about the film on Indiegogo.