It's been a big couple of years for Tiana Kaye Johnson. The recently graduated SMU master's student moved seamlessly from college performances to two spotlight roles on the mainstage at Dallas Theater Center, and she will now join DTC's resident acting company beginning with the 2016-17 season.
Those two big roles — sweet, young Lily in The Book Club Play and mysterious Lorraine Motel maid Camae in The Mountaintop — no doubt helped Johnson's ascent at DTC, but the young actress had already booked another role by the time her residency was announced.
Johnson will be appearing in Dreamgirls, DTC's sparkly production of the 1981 musical inspired by the backstage drama of Motown girl group The Supremes. Before the show officially opens on June 17 (running through July 24 at the Wyly Theatre), Johnson took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun, and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Tiana Kaye Johnson
Role in Dreamgirls: Ensemble
Previous work in the DFW area: At SMU, Look Homeward Angel; Progress Theatre, The Burnin’; Dallas Theater Center, The Book Club Play and The Mountaintop
Where you currently reside: Dallas
First theater role: An ensemble role in a musical called Open a New Window at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters
First stage show you ever saw: I don’t remember the name, but it was a fabulous one-man show in a theater in Dallas.
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: My senior year in college, I knew I had a choice between teaching high school or going to graduate school, and I decided to go to grad school and get the training I needed to be a working actor.
Most challenging role you’ve played: Characters named Boo and MayBee in The Burnin’ by Cristal C. Truscott
Special skills: Boxing, color guard
Something you’re really bad at: Math
Current pop culture obsession: Beyoncé
Last book you read: Ebony and Ivy by Craig Steven Wilder
Favorite movie(s): The Lion King
Favorite musician(s): Erykah Badu
Favorite song: "Tokyo" by Lianne La Havas
Dream role: Anita in Jelly’s Last Jam
Favorite play(s): The Colored Museum
Favorite musical(s): Jelly’s Last Jam, Into the Woods
Favorite actors/actresses: Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Joe Morton, Viola Davis
Favorite food: Italian
Must-see TV show(s): Roots, Underground, Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Jane the Virgin
Something most people don’t know about you: I’ll can go on eating the same thing almost every day. If it’s good, of course.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Ghana
Pre-show warm-up: Whatever fuels me that day
Favorite part about your current role: I get to play so many different people in a two-hour time slot.
Most challenging part about your current project: Keeping up with all the moving parts of this play.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: Stuttering onstage because I can’t get the word out.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: Journalist
Favorite post-show spot: My bed
Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: It’s home.
Most memorable theater moment: Performing the role of a lifetime in The Mountaintop