There is only one word that truly describes the young woman that is Cherie Johnson: Driven. After starring on shows like Punky Brewster and Family Matters as a chid, she has blossomed into a creative force to be reckoned with, not only acting, but executive producing, writing songs and balancing her love of work in front of and behind the camera.
In 2010, Cherie added a new title to her name, that of author. And if the rest of her life is any indication of what will happen in this new arena, the world better watch out.
On Tuesday, September 7, 2010, Cherie joined Shadow Play Entertainment's literacy campaign called TAKE TIME TO READ as the national spokesperson, sharing her thoughts on why reading is so important no matter what your career. She took out time out of promoting her first book Around The World Twice to talk with Cyrus Webb of Conversations Magazine about her journey, her success and what's next for her.
Cherie, I know you are busy, so I really appreciate your taking out the time to speak with us. Many of our readers will know you from television, so let's start there. Looking back on it all, what has surprised you the most about where you came from and where you are today?
Thank you so much for the interview. I think what surprises me most is this right here. The fact that people would want to interview me, that what I did 27 years ago on Punky Brewster would turn into a career. I honestly did not realize that I was working, or I was what people call "famous". I was just having fun doing what I love and feel so blessed that I have continued that.
Did you expect the road of success that you have been blessed with while growing up?
I knew very early on I was going to strive to be successful. I didn't know it would come through entertainment. I had plans on becoming an architect, and an author.
When did the stars seem to align for you? What project seemed to be your big break and what happened next?
For me the realization click in 2005 while I was Co-executive producing and acting in a film called "Dead Tone". I have loved horror films since I was a small child, and here I was on set not just acting but producing. I was tickled. I went through a major reflection period on my life. From there on out it was simple I have the power to make all my dreams come true. Since then I have produced 5 other projects and wrote 1.
With some child stars it seems as though we always want to remember them that way and don't expect them to really grow up. Did you have any fear of what would happen to you as time went by and you got older?
Never a fear but definitely have a point to prove to make people see me as the 34-year-old woman I am. When I was working on Punky Brewter and Family Matters I never thought about it at all. I was a kid I didn't even realize I was working much less the impact that I was making on my own life as well as the life of other peoples. I never got into the habit of being an avid TV watcher so I didn't understand fully the impact it has on other people lives. I still don't think I fully comprehend it and I am floored daily when approached by people who either liked or disliked characters that I have played and the fact that people have a really hard time depicting between what is fact and fiction. People believe I am the character's I get paid to play. "Its crazy" but it's a compliment because it means I am doing my job well.
Being in the public eye at any age is not easy. How did you avoid some of the pitfalls that have overtaken so many throughout the years?
My job doesn't define who I am as a person. Fame is one of the most addicting drugs ever. I have never sought fame nor am I addicted to anything! I love what I do its my passion, if my passion is ever taken away God forbid I have many other goals. My mom told me early on the only stars in the world are in the sky.
The reason we are speaking to you know is because of a new career you have begun this year, that of author. How did this come about, and when did you realize that writing was something you were interested in?
When I was 5 years old I made my mother a book out of paper and yarn. She told me it was the best book she had ever read! I promised her that one day I was going to have books in the library. See the library was really important to me when I was little. We didn't have one in my hometown Duquesne PA because white people burnt it down in 1968 because they didn't want black people to swim in their pool.
My mother would take me two towns over every week to check out a book. I was in love with the building. It was huge, white with pillars and had more books than I could count. The library was the most beautiful place I had ever seen (I'm from the hood). I always knew I wanted a piece of me to live in that building. 30 years later my dream is coming true.
The first book was recently released. What is the title and tell us what it is about?
Around The World Twice is a story about two best friends whose lives are synonymous, despite the different social circles they traveled in. It is a story of true friendship in which both ladies, together, contribute to building each other up in order to become better and stronger women, as well as triumphant for love of self and one another.
Ashley is a successful half Black-half Latina female living a glamorous lifestyle of a Hollywood movie star, or so it would seem, if you were on the outside looking in. Truth is, she is tired of failed relationships and is fearful of being alone. She struggles to find love and begins to question herself.
Lillian cashed in on the normal life of a housewife early...marrying the guy all the girls wanted back in high school, house, white picket fence, etc..she was living the American Dream. Her dream life soon becomes one that resembles a nightmare, leaving her vulnerable.
After an invitation and a lot of persuasion from her friend Ashley, Lillian decides to leave the security of her long time home in New York and move to Los Angeles. It is there that she realizes maybe she has more in her life to change than she may have initially thought...
From what I understand, you have been signed to publish seven books. Some aspiring writers would be happy with just one. Do you feel any pressure for this phase of your life to be a success?
I don't feel pressure; I think success comes when you love what you do. I love writing and the power if gives me to convey my story to an audience. The reward for me is then receiving their feedback. It's all about having fun and I enjoying being able to share my life with others. The real success is when I get to hear I have touched someone else's soul because a piece of my work stays with them forever.
Outside of the writing, what's next for you?
I have more films I will be producing and a TV show in development. This new chapter in my life is providing lots of opportunity that I will not let slip by. Sky is the limit!
Thanks again for the time, Cherie. How can our readers stay updated on everything you are doing today?