Friday, May 24, 2013

Kendra Johnson Stars In 'Love Thy Neighbor'


Tyler Perry has made his mark in theater, television and film.  And he’s done it all his way.

His series of Madea movies has made him a multi-millionaire and one of the most prolific film-makers working today.  His films have earned half a billion dollars worldwide.

This month he will make television history when two of his original scripted shows, Love Thy Neighbor and  The Haves and the Have Nots, debuts on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network  marking the first two original series for the new network.   The Haves and Have Nots, which debuts Tues., May 28, marks Perry’s first primetime drama.


Perry will appear on an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Sun., May 26 on OWN. In the episode, Oprah interviews Perry at his home. The two talk about his life and career and his critics.

Love Thy Neighbor is a half-hour comedy set at The Love Train Diner, a family run restaurant that serves up laughs.

The show centers around Hattie Mae Love (Patrice Lovely/A Madea Christmas), a feisty matriarch who manages her customers as well as her family.

Kendra C. Johnson (Phat Girlz) plays Hattie’s daughter, Linda, who has a philandering husband and a son named Danny (Andre Hall/Goodbye LA), a recent college graduate.  Danny moves into a bachelor pad with his best friend, Sam (Jonathan Chase) and lands a job at a hot internet design firm. 

The show also stars Zulay Henao, who plays a co-worked named Marianna and Drew, played by Darmirra Brunson.   There is also an Uncle Floyd (Palmer Williams /House of Payne).

The show, shot in Atlanta, is written and executive produced by Tyler Perry.  The series is produced for OWN by Tyler Perry Studios.

The show debuts at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Wed., May 29, with two half-hour episodes back-to-back.


I recently caught up with Kendra Johnson at the OWN offices in Los Angeles to talk about the show.  She’s dressed rather chic in a long, black/white striped dress. Her long brownish read hair kisses her shoulders.

Johnson has been seen in a recurring role on The Game.  On a monthly basis she is
the Empowerment Editor for PLUS Model Magazine. She is a spokesmodel for curvy women and is an advocate for Breast Cancer research and awareness. 

DD: What was the attraction of taking on the role of Linda?

KCJ: It’s an ideal role. I connected to Linda in a lot of ways, which helped in developing the character. I did a film with Tyler Perry, Single Mom’s Club last year. I auditioned for this role. It all happened very quickly. I auditioned a week before Christmas, started shooting in Feb. 14.

*Single Mom’s Club is Perry’s next feature film. The Lionsgate film, which stars Perry, Nia Long, William Levy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Zulay Henao, follows a group of single mothers who bond together in an effort to launch a support group for their children’s school.

DD: Do you feel a sense of responsibility about the roles you take?

KCJ:  I definitely feel a sense of responsibility.

DD: When you got into the biz, what did you expect and what did you get?

KCJ: I expected that when I got here everyone would know I was here and then they would come and bring me my show. I waited. I waited a while. What I got was a great opportunity to work. I worked and learned about this business. I started doing background work. From that ended up being Queen Latifah’s stand in and body double. I did Taxi, Beauty Shop, Last Holiday, Cover Girl commercials. I paid very close attention to everything. I paid attention to everybody’s job. What a great opportunity I’m getting paid and learning at the same time. That’s why I stayed with her as long as I did. She appreciated that I wanted to learn everything.


DD: People either love or hate Tyler Perry. He has naysayers. How would you convince one of the naysayers that they should watch your show?

KCJ: I don’t know how you convince someone who is already turned off to turn on. I do know that if I were to try the only thing I could do is share my experience. All I know is he wants to help us make our dreams come true.

DD: Who do you see watching this show?

KCJ: I believe that the show will appeal to a cross over multi-age demographic. There are a lot of different things to offer. Even though he’s done sitcoms before I think he’s done something different with our show. 

DD: Has it sunk in that you’re a part of history?

KCJ: I thought about it. I’m not worried about ratings. I believe people are going to watch.  Tyler and Miss Oprah’s people will do what they do and make it work.   I know they will do what they need to do to make it successful.   I’m honored and humbled and grateful because it could have been anybody else.  Oprah was on my dream board just to meet. Now I’m on the first sitcom on her network. I think about it too much. Next question.

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