By Tom Quiner

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsrbHYtPPIA]

Kaiser Johnson

Kaiser Johnson


I met a young actor via Twitter. His name is Kaiser Johnson. What struck me were the three words he used in his profile to describe himself: Actor. Catholic. Chestertonian (aka as a fan of the writings of G. K. Chesterton). As a passionate Catholic and Chestertonian myself, and as one who has written nine faith-based theater pieces, I knew this was a guy I’d like to get to know. And I thought Quiner’s Diner readers would, too.
Kaiser Johnson kindly took the time to tell us a little about himself and his acting career.
Watch the clip above to see Kaiser in action.
Read the interview below and post it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on this exceptional talent.
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QUINER’S DINER: Give us a quick bio.  Where are you from?  Where’d you go to school. How’d you get into acting?
KAISER: I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota originally, but went to school in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota (University of Minnesota – Duluth), on the shores of Lake Superior. I started acting quite accidentally, when in 6th grade, a kid dropped out of the school play, and a few acquaintances suggested I could play the part. So, I was cast as the prince in Cinderella, and fell in love with acting. From that point on, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I did more plays in high school, and went to college to get a BFA in acting. While in college, I was honored to be nominated 3 times for the American College Theater Festival acting award from the Kennedy Center, and to get to go and compete in different cities around the US each time.
QUINER’S DINER: You’re an actor with a profile on IMBd’s website. On your Twitter bio, you describe yourself as an actor, Catholic, and Chestertonian.  Does your acting ever come in conflict with your Catholicism?
KAISER: In my work, I constantly have to ask myself what the purpose of the project that I’m doing is, and what my role in it is. Sometimes, I run into situations where I need to turn down an audition, or even a role because I don’t see a redemptive message, or the content is just objectively objectionable, no matter the message. It’s always a bummer to turn down work, not just financially, but because I really love to work, but I’m always glad I did when it comes to a question of morals. “What does it profit a man if he gain the world but lose his soul?”
QUINER’S DINER: You’ve done a lot of Chesterton plays.  Why do you love Chesterton so much?

KAISER: Chesterton is always a special joy for me, whether reading or performing. He does an incredible job of seeing the inherent drama of this incredible life that we are blessed enough to experience. He reminds me that life is worth living, and that gratitude should be our constant response. As an actor, I love the characters he creates, and the dialogue he gives me to work with is some of the most fun, enjoyable prose ever written.
QUINER’S DINER: What are the top two Chesterton pieces you’ve been involved with and how can Quiner’s Diner readers watch them?
KAISER: I’d have to say my favorite Chesterton experiences I’ve had were shooting the Father Brown mystery “The HonorKaiser Johnson LB of Israel Gow” for EWTN (available on their catalog or at Chesterton.org), in which I played a porter who quite reluctantly helps Father Brown find his way to Glengyle Castle, and doing the play “Magic” at the Chesterton conference in St. Louis a couple of years ago. Magic is a beautiful, hilarious, and terrifying play about real, fake, good and bad magic. Really great play, but, as is the case with plays, you unfortunately can’t see it after the fact! It is a passing beauty that you have only a brief moment of opportunity to see.
Another experience that’s always been a favorite of mine has been performing in The Apostle of Common Sense on EWTN (again available on their catalog or at Chesterton.org). I get to play so many great characters from Chesterton’s work and from history, or from the mind of Dale Ahlquist, preeminent Chesterton scholar and host of the show. It’s just way too much fun!
I also played Michael Moon in a film version of Manalive that has been languishing in post-production for several years, but if you contact the American Chesterton Society, they can tell you how to help it get finished and into a theater near you! And I haven’t gotten to play Gabriel Syme from The Man Who Was Thursday yet, but that is my dream role, for sure.
QUINER’S DINER: Are you a cradle Catholic or a convert?  What is there about the Catholic Church you love?  In other words, in this vast, beautiful sprawling Church of ours, what really animates you about the faith?
KAISER: I came back to the faith in college. I had received my sacraments of initiation, but hadn’t been raised Catholic. More of a pantheistic, new-age sort of upbringing. But I met some Catholics in college, who for the first time that I’d seen, truly demonstrated a belief in and a commitment to a real, objective, universal truth. I found this incredibly inspiring, and such a relief to know that in all these questions I was asking myself as I left home and started a new phase of my life, that there was someone who had all the answers, and that they really made sense. Recently, I’ve found myself more deeply loving the beauty of all the blessings of my life, one of which is suffering. I’ve had a lot of traumatic life events recently, and for the first time, I’m really experiencing the blessing of God sharing every part of His life with me, including His suffering. It doesn’t make it easier, but it does make it good.
QUINER’S DINER: You have an amazing Twitter following, with some 46.8K followers.  How did you accomplish that?  Are your tweets that brilliant?
HappinessKAISER: First of all, yes, my tweets really are that brilliant. I love to find and create great stuff, and find and interact with great people, and folks appreciate that! I’ve followed a lot of people to find people who I really enjoy hearing from and connecting with, and a lot have returned that vote of confidence. I also connect with a lot of Chestertonians and Catholics on twitter, and they make up a bulk of my followers.
QUINER’S DINER: Are you doing more secular or faith-based acting projects these days?
KAISER: I do make most of my money nowadays from acting, some from faith-based projects, some from secular ones. One I’m particularly excited about is the pilot “Bound By Ad” (boundbyad.com should be active in 4 days), which is an hilarious sitcom for a major streaming service (think Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, though I can’t officially say which one yet), with a twist: the viewers have to vote which of 3 series regular casts they want to see each week. I really hope people will vote for Cast 2 (the one I’m on), not only because it would be a life-changing opportunity for me, but also because I think we’re the best cast. I’ve fallen in love with all my cast mates, and audiences will too. It’s a great show about friendship, sacrifice and love, and our cast really gets that like nobody else.
QUINER’S DINER: Are you able to earn a living as an actor?  What advice do you have for drama majors in Catholic colleges who would like to earn a living acting instead of waiting tables?
KAISER: In general, my advice to people who want to get into entertainment would be: if you can conceive of possibly doing anything else with your life, do that. The truth is, there are probably more than 100 times as many people seeking employment in entertainment than the industry can actually sustain. What we really need are more Catholic consumers of entertainment, not creators of entertainment. There are already enough people who want to make good, true, beautiful content and make it well who don’t have a market for it, because Catholics and Christians in general deride or mistrust the industry so much that they don’t participate in it. It’s not anyone’s duty to make entertainment for a market that doesn’t exist. When we say and believe that Hollywood only makes junk, so we won’t go to the theaters, won’t subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, won’t go to Redbox regularly, brag that we don’t watch TV, is it any wonder Hollywood doesn’t make shows to cater to us? There are ALWAYS at least one or two GREAT movies in theaters, one or two GREAT shows on TV to follow, and one or two GREAT streaming shows. Find them, pay for them, and you will show the industry what you want to see more of.
If you feel like you absolutely MUST join the industry, see if you can picture yourself in casting, or as an agent or a manager. These are positions that aren’t often filled by Catholics, and Catholic artists could use Catholic advocates in these positions. If you enter the industry trying to act, you are in charge of making that happen. Even if it means putting on plays or making your own films with friends you meet in acting classes (which, I admit, taught me more in 6 months about acting than 3 years of a BFA program did), do that. Work on your craft and on your business daily, because acting is an art and a business. In times when acting work hasn’t been as frequent I’ve worked in sales, rather than waiting tables. It’s flexible, teaches you valuable skills for selling your talents as an actor, and if you just put in the time, will always pay you better than waiting tables. The biggest drawback is that most salespeople, like most aspiring actors, don’t put in the time to achieve their goals. No one will just give you opportunities. You must earn everything you get, and be ready to accept the grace of God whenever, wherever, and however He gives it.
QUINER’S DINER: I love musicals, and have written a number of Catholic musicals, so I’ve got to ask, do you ever do musicals?
KAISER JOHNSON: I’ve done a few musicals… I’ve done “Crazy for You” twice, I’ve done “Once Upon a Mattress” (the princess and the pea story), as well as “Grease” and “Bye, Bye, Birdie”!
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Thank-you, Kaiser Johnson. Keep us updated on your career. Keep “drawing the line in the sand.”

7 Comments

  1. marilynrodrigues on June 27, 2014 at 1:58 am

    This guy is a wonderful find! Great advice for those of us who would like to see more good, beautiful, true, entertainment.

  2. K. Q. Duane on June 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    A very thought-filled young man. I wish him luck.

  3. Angelita ( Philippines) on June 28, 2014 at 3:09 am

    Keiser Johnson, Son, you’ve given a lot of substance in your way of life, faith, and principle. A lucky man to find his purpose early on in life. God bless you more.

  4. Jeane on June 30, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Wow. How refreshing and inspiring.
    His comment about the need for more Catholic consumers of entertainment is a point well taken.

  5. Theodotus on July 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Wait a minute… isn’t this guy cloned from a Guy Pearce cheek scraping? I’m confused.

    • quinersdiner on July 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Gotta admit, there is a strong resemblance. Guy is older. Maybe he is Kaiser’s father??

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