By Tesalon Felicien
He picked up the job reluctantly as a means to make some extra money during his college years. Some occasional work on nights and weekends wouldn’t impede on his academic pursuits he thought.
But two years later, Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. has made a part-time career working as a stunt performer and actor. He’s done all that while juggling school and interning on LSU’s Football strength staff.
The 26-year-old has yet to jump out of a moving car or from an imploding building. His stunts require far less life threatening circumstances, like getting punched or roughed up on set. Johns, who has yet to set foot in America’s film capital – Hollywood – has been on the receiving end of a few fists during his short career.
According to a report released last year by nonprofit, Film L.A., Louisiana was the top filming location in 2013. Of 108 feature productions filmed that year, 18 were filmed in the state. As the Bayou State continues to solidify its hold on the nation’s film industry – through tax credits and other incentives – local actors like Johns, have an opportunity to cash in the gold rush of sorts and display their talents to audiences around the country and world.
He landed his first gig in 2013 in Lee Daniel’s The Butler playing the part of a black teen at the wrong diner, in a very different time.
“We did like the diner scene when they had the sit in with the African American teenagers inside the white dinner,” Johns said. “My stunt work required for me to get beat up, thrown from my stool. I got ketchup thrown on me … got hot coffee thrown on me. That took about two days because they did it from all [different] angles. It was a pretty fun experience.”
His next role, a year later, came for a short-lived television series about aliens. It’s from there his acting career took off.
To date, his most meaningful role was a speaking part earlier this year for the television series American Crime. John’s plays the part of a correctional officer who has to deliver a little discipline.
“I killed the audition. One of the inmates was acting up. I had to scream at him, grab him and choke him out until he passed out,” he said. “It was pretty intense and I like being loud because here at LSU football we have to be loud with these guys. I love high energy roles.”
Acting however, hasn’t come without its hardships. Johns has endured few sleepless nights, heading from class, to work, to set and doing it again the next day.
“I just had to make it work. I talked to my professors. A couple test I had to miss but they let me come back the next week and make it up. It was all about communication.” Johns said.
He’s also had to spend countless hours in the weight room bulking up due to the physical demand of his stunts.
When asked about the most important skill for the business, Johns Jr. said it is networking.
“It’s all about networking. It’s not about what you know but about who you know. I worked with the guy Jeff Galpin and he vouched for me and told the stunt coordinators I was a good guy, now the coordinators hire me.”
And networking paid off immensely the young actor earlier last year landing him a part in this year’s block buster comedy Get Hard.
“I got to hang out with those guys [Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell] and they were just hilarious. In the scene, I get punched by Will Ferrell. Will Ferrell actually bought me a bottle of water so I felt good afterward.”
Now recently graduated with a political science degree and grad school in mind, he has his sights on Hollywood.
He’s yet to land a lead role but with the state’s film industry outpacing traditional places like New York and Los Angeles, there will be ample opportunity. And there’s always work.
Johns recently wrapped up filming a feature piece and about to start filming.
“It’s a constant grind,” said Johns who, will be part of an upcoming film starring Matthew McConaughey.