It was 2014 when we first met the lovely Ernestine Johnson, who took the small screen by storm on The Arsenio Hall Show. The coveted “truth teller” eloquently crushed the black women stereotype in her spoken word performance of “The Average Black Girl,” which went viral with over 30 million views on the internet. However, she almost didn’t get the opportunity to perform.
“Yes, ‘Average Black Girl’ was such an amazing dynamic powerful poem that I was so fortunate enough to be able to do on such a huge platform. It’s so crazy I always tell the story because I almost wasn’t able to perform that day because his first guest on the show went over on time and he couldn’t get to me. I was so sad, but he said ‘I still want you to perform anyway, still come out and do it for the audience, do it for me.’ I did it for him and he was just mind blown and he was like ‘that poem has to be done live on air.’”
“So, they ended up having me back to do it the very next day and it sat at 11,000 views for the entire year on my YouTube page. No one ever even saw it, just my family and friends on Facebook and literally 365 days later, it went viral. Then after that 365 days, God grew me and prepared me for what was to come. I think it reached over 30 million views collectively on the internet and my phone’s been ringing nonstop.”
Nearly three years later, Johnson’s continuing to break down barriers as an internationally recognized poet and actress. The 30-year-old appeared in Think Like A Man Too alongside funny man Kevin Hart, 24: Legacy and most recently #DigitalLivesMatter starring comedian DC Young Fly. Ernestine, who’s been working in the TV biz since the age of 10, is beyond grateful for the opportunities and excited for where her acting career will take her.
“I’ve been in the theater and acting world almost my entire life. So, I think Think Like A Man Too was a really great role because it kind of kicked me off on the big screen. I got to work with such a huge star like Kevin Hart and he was so awesome to work with. He’s actually a good friend of mine, as well, just how he is on TV, is how he is in person. He’s always funny, always the life of the party, always warm and high energy and positive. So, it was really great to have that role.”
Following Think Like A Man Too, Ernestine shared the screen with DC Young Fly in the BET flick #DigitalLivesMatter, which came out in October. The film followed the social media superstar, whose account was hacked by a disgruntled fan. The opportunity gave Johnson a lead role in the film, for which she was beyond grateful.
“Then to finally have the lead role in #DigitalLivesMatter on BET opposite DC Young Fly, which he’s and amazing emerging star himself. I’ve been acting for quite a while and I was able to do 24:Legacy on FOX this year and Shots Fired on FOX this year–and have some really nice co-star roles and a guest star role on BET for The Quad. So, this year’s been a really great year and The Arsenio Hall Show kicked things off on a higher platform for me. I’m not a stranger to the stage or the camera, it just takes time for everyone else to catch on.”
Now if you are looking to follow in Ernestine’s footsteps, here’s some advice from the actress herself. She believes in working toward your dream and being persistent. Johnson also lets her faith lead her and believes that you should never let ‘no’s’ get to you.
“I would definitely say be ready to operate from a huge spirit of resilience. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m super spiritual and I believe in letting God lead and we make it something we want so bad, but God will always show us what we need and not what we want. People say chase your dreams and I always say, ‘let your dreams chase you’ cause what’s for you is going to come. Proverbs 18:16 ‘your gift will make room for you, you don’t make room for it.’ It makes room for you and brings you in front of great men and I whole heartedly believe that. Stay diligent and have faith.”
“Like I said, I’ve been in this since I was 10-years-old and people are just now recognizing some of my work and I’ve been doing this since ’98–you have to be resilient and have the faith and you really have to do it because you love it. If you are doing for the fame or doing it for the money it’s not going to be as rewarding or fulfilling cause you get a lot of ‘no’s.’ I get told no weekly and you really have to do this because you love it. Don’t let the ‘no’s’ break you down.”