Keean Johnson | The 22 Year Old Quadruple Threat

by Paulette Ely


You may know 22 year old Keean Johnson from his shining roles in TV hits such as Nashville, Switched at Birth and Spooksville. Or, you may know him from his original dancing videos on Youtube. You may even know him from stages on Broadway. With so many platforms to express his unimaginable creativity, Keean’s stardom is not subject to stop anytime soon. We got a chance to get some insight on what’s like to be only 22 and working on more projects at once than we can count on one hand. Check out the full interview here to get to know your competition, because chances are he’s more talented than you with whatever you do. Sorry ‘bout it.

I know your movie ALITA is coming out later this week, but thats not all I can congratulate you on. You have 6 movies coming out in the next year! Can you talk about what it’s like to be so young and balance so many projects?

Yeah, I mean what’s funny is anyone can look at my IMDB and see tons of roles, but it’s been a process. I’ve been here since I was fifteen, auditioning as much as I can and trying to really make it as an actor. Honestly booking Alita has really opened so many doors to be looked at more seriously.


Not only are we so impressed with your actor career,  but you’re basically a quadruple threat. You dance, do art, photography and you act- which of your passions do you like the most? Are any an escape for you?

I was homeschooled at a pretty young age, starting in fourth grade with my brother starting in third grade. My mom’s big philosophy, which most people watching us grow up disagreed with, was that creativity is as important as academia. Every single day we would do something creative as well as learn about math or science or social studies. Having that foundation, even though I wasn’t trained in anything, allowed me to just grab a paintbrush and start messing around and having fun. I ended up enjoying my work, and I think it’s cool that people have been telling me to do more or to collaborate. 


You mentioned that being homeschooled helped with your creativity, do you think it also helped with you ability to balance your career now?

For sure, I think it’s a mix of being homeschooled and getting chances to be independent at a young age. My parents were just comfortable with me traveling at a young age and telling me to “call them when I need them.” Having that trust, I would always respectfully tell my parents that I wanted to be the one to talk to my manager and my agent by myself. I wanted to learn, because eventually I would have to do it by myself. I didn’t want to get thrown into the idea that I would be on my own once I’m 18 and figure it out then, starting young meant I never had a rude awakening when things we’re on my shoulders. 

Of all the places you’ve traveled, what is your favorite?

Iceland is my favorite. I had about a month of break in between shooting Alita, and my fifteen year old brother was in London training with the London water polo team. I snagged him and we went to Iceland for five days. We got a camper van and just drove up around the whole coast. We got stuck in the snow and had to turn around, right in the dead of winter. It was pretty great honestly. 

When you travel for projects, what are the 3 things you can’t travel without? 

Hm… I can’t travel without a sketch book, some good headphones and a good book. 

You, like me, are apart of the social media generation. How do you think this has enhanced changed your life as a performer?

I actually thunk that social media is amazing on so many fronts, but also using social media as a way to show your art and influence others is inspiring. I’m trying to follow that path. If I am apart of social media, I want to use it to inspire others and use it the way it should be used. 


So in the film, Alita struggled to find her identity. Being that you started being in the spotlight since age 11, can you relate to that kind of struggle?

Yeah of course. Not even as an artist, but as someone growing up we gravitate to so many different things at such a young age. At the dawn of social media, our perception of reality is constantly changing. I think everyone is trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in, and I think I’ll have that forever. 


How about anything else that your creativity has brought you to recently? 

Well, a big shoutout to my stylist. We got together for each of my press days and premiere and both created some original clothing. For the premiere, you have to zoom in super close but if you look out for it, I did my own designs on my tie that my stylist printed out to iron on. It was cool, she’s pretty amazing and took me under her wing and allowed me to express myself in my own way. 

Well, as if that’s not enough, do you want to talk about some of your upcoming projects?

Oh yeah, oops. Forgot about that. It’s so weird to have to remember so many things that I’m doing. Well yes, there’s a project at Tribeca in a few months called Low Tide which is the A24 film with an awesome new director named Kevin Mcmullan. Then there’s Cut Throat City directed by RZA where I have a very interesting pair of corn rows. Then there’s a project called Midway that Roland Emmerich Directed. And then Euphoria, which is going to be the craziest show on television. It has other young actors like Zendaya, so it’s going to be pretty nuts. 

Make sure to see Alita: Battle Angel in theaters tomorrow (February 14, 2019) directed by Robert Rodriguez, produced by James Cameron and featuring Rosa Salazar and Christopher Waltz alongside Keean.

Photographed by Alona Forsythe and Alexander Gitman.

Grooming by Nathaniel Dezan using Makeup forever and Oribe at Opus Beauty.

Produced by BJ Panda Bear.