Proud Stories: Cyndii Johnson (She/Her/Hers)
Q: What kind of performance artist are you?
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a full-time artist?
I knew I wanted to be full-time artist when my father told me that it was possible. I was in a performing arts school, preparing for college when my father asked what I wanted to study. I told him that I was looking into being a new broadcaster or social worker. He questioned why I didn't want to pursue acting since I had spent the past 7 years studying it at arts school. After sharing that I was nervous because acting wasn't guaranteed, he told me that nothing in life is guaranteed. Which sounds simple but it was so profound and something that I carry with me to this day.
Q: How are you keeping yourself inspired to create during this unprecedented time?
Simply put, I'm not. I'm taking the pressure off of myself to create. You cannot pour from an empty well. I am focusing on filling my well by reading, talking to my elders, cooking up a storm, growing food, taking a doula and herbalism course as well as learning Portuguese. I am also trying take better care of my instrument by running and taking gyrotonic classes.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome as an actor is systemic racism. It's embedded in every part of the process. From education, institutions, capitalism, colorism, and misogynoir. Learning and unlearning have been key in the way in which I see myself which in turn has changed my perspective on the way the industry sees me. Being my most authentic self is my super power.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I am most proud of BLKS at Woolly Mammoth. It was a show that I worked really hard for and before that show, I had not been in a play in 4 YEARS. I was able to be so unapologetically black and queer on stage and my family was able to really see me. The director is black, the playwright is black and queer, the artistic director is latinx, the SM was a woc, the ASM was trans, the intimacy director is latinx.
Q: Is there anything you are working on now that can be shared and supported?
Ash Land: a short film directed by Shariffa Ali written by Banna Desta. I am working on my own podcast and video series in which I learn for my grandmother. You can follow that journey along with my gardening and twerking via my IG page: @cyndiiluhwo.