Actress A.J. Johnson’s new role in TVOne’s upcoming film “Sins of the Father,” is set to make fans see her in an unexpected new way.
The original TV film follows an Atlanta pastor named Clarence who is happily married to Karen. But the couple’s world is flipped upside down when Karen is viciously murdered outside their home. While the community is sent reeling, an investigation launches and police sift through the lives of those closest to Clarence. They learn that those people’s pasts are littered with lust and cruelty and even uncover a massive sinful conspiracy.
“It’s actually inspired by an actual true crime,” Johnson tells Atlanta Black Star exclusively on Tuesday, July 2. “I love that it is now the kickoff of TVOne’s month-long campaign of love, lies and murder.
“It’s an old lesson, it’s not a new lesson. It’s a visual lesson this time,” she adds, “that when you lie and when you cheat and you try to get over, it just never turns out right. Whether you’re not a man of God, or a man of God, it doesn’t matter. God does not like ugly, period. This is the story of what happens when one lie spins into another lie and turns into a murder.”
While the film, directed by Jamal Hill, is falling in line with TVOne’s latest round of programming that Johnson spoke to, it is a new turn for the actress herself.
“The one secret I will give away is I don’t think you’re going to expect the performance you’re going to get from me,” says Johnson, who is best known for her turns in the classics “House Party” and “Baby Boy.” She added that after a screening in Atlanta Monday night, friends got in touch with her and said they feel the character of Detective Phylicia Richardson fuses together Johnson’s “Sirens” character of Officer Lynn Stanton and Juanita from the John Singleton-directed “Baby Boy.”
“It’s so funny how people — even people closest to me — try to pull characters together to help them decide about the newest character,” Johnson said. “People have asked me before who are my favorite characters of my career. And I always say Sharane from ‘House Party.’ I always say Junita from ‘Baby Boy.’ But I am adding Phylicia Richardson … to that list. What you’re gonna get is so many elements of the real AJ that you don’t even know.”
Acknowledging that she’s been out of the spotlight for a while when it comes to film, Johnson said she was led back to movie-making after Singleton and Taraji P. Henson “spoiled” her on the set of “Baby Boy” decades ago. Johnson said an ad-libbed moment at the end of the film is what ignites the “excitement in my soul” about acting. She promises it is a moment that will have people talking.
“The end scene came out of the cast sitting around talking, discussing the situation as to where the story had gotten by the time I filmed this scene,” she says after noting it was “completely unexpected.” “So what you see is completely not what was written.”
As for the ultimate takeaway for the film, Johnson wants viewers to walk away from the film Sunday night with a realization about where society stands today.
“We’re living at a time of authenticity and transparency,” she said. “Social media has kicked that into overgear. We can no longer hid behind the computer and on the internet. We can no longer hide behind the fabricated impressions that the church has given us for so long. … There’s corruption of people so, therefore, there’s corruption in the church. … I hope that this project opens up the door to let’s crack open these cases of corruption, of adultery of lying and cheating. In exposing them, hopefully, we’ll dilute and delete them.”
“Sins of the Father” airs on TVOne Sunday, July 7, at 8 p.m. EDT.