If you went to see “Madea’s Family Funeral” this past weekend, one thing you probably paid little attention to was the extras. However, if you look close and don’t blink, you would see Florida A&M University’s very own Jazmin Johnson there, dressed in black among the “friends of the deceased.”
In addition to pursuing her bachelor’s in business administration, Johnson has racked up nine acting credits. She has worked as an extra on the sets of “Acrimony,” “Madea Boo 2” and “Madea Family Funeral,” “Star,” “The Quad” and “Dynasty.” And played the lead role in “Fatal Attraction.” She has also played characters in two short films:” Bloom” and “Broken.”
Johnson has also worked with the Oprah Winfrey Network as a camera production assistant on OWN’s new drama series “David Makes Man” and was one of the five students to be accepted into American Black Film Festival’s intensive and exclusive Greenlighters Academy.
When asked how she is able to make all this happen, Johnson responded with confidence: “I’ve been manifesting this since fourth grade.”
Johnson’s love of storytelling began with a second grade daily assignment called “The Morning Message,” where she was tasked to write a short story about the day before. From then she continued writing her own stories and poetry. Eventually this love evolved into a passion for cinematic storytelling. And from there nothing could stop her.
Anytime she was in Atlanta she would go to Tyler Perry Studios and try (unsuccessfully) to get in. She did research to find the studio casting directors and sent emails with her homemade headshot whenever she knew casting was going on.
Her small break happened freshman year when she was invited to be an extra in a college-related scene. She took this small opportunity and made the most of it.
“I just continued to work on that relationship with them even when I was on set. I would bring pens because they’d always need pens. When they were cleaning up, I would volunteer to help.”
She described the experience of being on Perry’s high-profile set as “nerve-wracking.” However, her eagerness to support the storytelling process, even in small ways, led to her being invited back for two more projects to date.
With all the success she is having in the film arena, one might think that Johnson would view her pursuit of a business degree as irrelevant, or at least burdensome. But Johnson has a more positive view.
“It’s really just forcing me to be like ‘OK, you say you don’t want to work in this ‘… then you have to make sure you put in twice as much work to make sure you don’t end up in this. There are certain things that I do pick up, but I feel like my college experience is definitely more about pushing me further mentally as far as strategy.”
Her endeavors have inspired her friends as well. Johnson’s close friend Naja Hardmon describes her as “the quiet storm in every room.”
“When you’re as talented as her and recognize how to use that talent early on, it’s only natural that she pursues it with everything she’s got,” Hardmon said.
Junior computer science major Brianna Harmon is also a close friend of Johnson’s. In addition to living together they also work on scripts and film ideas together.
“Jaz is literally one of the most creative people I know,” Bowen said. “I don’t know anyone with imagination as big as hers. She has taught me that if you really want something and you work hard for it, it will definitely be yours in due time.”
Johnson is proving her friends right with her next big moves. In addition to being accepted into the T.Howard Foundation internship program for diversity in media, Johnson is writing a web series titled “Homies.” Before she graduates, she hopes to finish her feature length film titled “For Colored Boys,” for which she envisions a red carpet premiere at Lee Hall.