Actor-Writer Juggles ‘The Fosters,’ ‘Bold and the Beautiful’

By  | 

“The Fosters” returns for Season Two with even more drama to tantalize the loyal fan base. Working behind the scenes of the hit ABC Family drama is writer-executive producer Joanna Johnson, whose real-life family bears similarities to the TV family.

Joanna Johnson, writer-executive producer on "The Fosters," star on "Bold and the Beautiful."

Joanna Johnson, writer-executive producer on “The Fosters,” star on “Bold and the Beautiful.”

“I’m married to a woman and we have two children,” says Johnson of her life with wife Michelle and their two adopted biracial children. Her real-life family helps her identify with the two moms parenting a biracial brood of natural, foster and adopted children on “The Fosters.”

While the show in some respects resembles her life, the groundbreaking TV drama was created by two men, Peter Paige (Queer As Folk) and Brad Bredewet (Fly Girls).

“I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to help them creatively and as a producer with the show,” says Johnson.

While prime-time comedies featuring gay characters are not new, “The Fosters” is the first successful family drama, thanks to the dramatic storylines and a strong ensemble cast, including Teri Polo and Sherri Saum as the lesbian couple, Danny Nucci as Polo’s ex-husband, and David Lambert, Maia Mitchell, Jake T. Austin, Cierra Ramirez and Hayden Byerly as “the kids.”

“The ‘Modern Family’ show is great and I love it, but they’re funny gay men, and they’re kooky and eccentric and ha-ha, as long as you can laugh at the gays, then we’re all comfortable,” says Johnson.

Drams is “about raising kids and a family, and look, it’s exactly the same issues you have in your family.”

Johnson, who shot to fame as an actress on “Bold and the Beautiful” in 1980s, and has returned this year to her role of Karen, remembers how uncomfortable the issue of homosexuality was in the not-so-distant past.

“When I started ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ in 1987,” recalls Johnson, “it was a different time, people just weren’t out. I wasn’t out to anyone I worked with.

I was afraid for them to find out.”

Johnson’s character on “B&B” eventually fell in love with another woman, and soap audiences embraced the character, but she spent much of her acting career fearful of being found out.

“That was the most exciting time of my life in many ways but I couldn’t really enjoy it completely because I felt like I had this secret,” said Johnson, “and I felt like I couldn’t totally be myself.”

She’s herself now, as she shares her stories through “The Fosters,” but there’s really no mystery involved. “The stories are about the marriage and the relationship of these two women. Not just from the gay perspective, from the being married and having kids perspective.”

Since her “Bold” character Karen is out on the show and “The Fosters” is about a lesbian couple with adopted children, Johnson joked to reporters that, “this has been my gayest year ever.”

Season Two premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC Family.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login