(Photo: Courtesy Grace Johnston)
Actress Grace Johnston stars in the new film "CAMP," now out on DVD, and she recently spoke with The Christian Post about stalking the producers for her role in the movie and not compromising while searching for work in Hollywood.
"CAMP" tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Eli who attends a camp for kids in the foster system. Johnston, who has been active in Hollywood since the 1980s, plays Tammie Parker, the camp's director. It is inspired by a true story and was shot at Hume Lake Christian Camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Christian Post: What made you interested in working on "CAMP"?
Grace Johnston: My manager brought me the script; I read scripts all the time, and [with] many of them, I don't feel comfortable with the character or storyline. This one I read and fell in love with it. I went in initially for the meeting, and I didn't hear back from them. I actually contacted the production company and the director and was like, 'Hi, my name is Grace Johnston and I am Tammie Parker. You've already seen me in this and what the heck is happening here?' They thought it was funny [that] I was being a stalker and explained that production had been pushed back because they were going to film at a real Christian camp (Hume Lake Christian Camp) and had to do so in the off-season. We had some scheduling conflicts, and I was relieved because I just knew I was Tammie.
I was hooked because I knew that the director and producer was a volunteer himself, and this was an all-around passion project. I consider this more of a movement than a movie because this is based on Royal Family Kids' Camp for abused and neglected children in foster care. Since this movie has come out, they've had over 3,000 inquiries for donations and volunteers and over 1,000 new volunteers, which is just amazing because that means that 1,000 more kids can go to these camps and have their lives changed. Roles like this are few and far between.
CP: What is it like being a Christian woman in Hollywood, in the entertainment industry?
GJ: It's difficult, but I guess we're faced with conflicts, temptations in all aspects of our lives in all careers. For me, in the entertainment business, it's tough because lines get blurred. You get a script for a project and want to be involved in it, so it's hard not to cross the lines you've set for yourself. Areas get gray. It's literally an everyday thing – checking myself – but when I read the script, for me, the bottom line question is will I shame my family? Will I disgrace them if I take this role? Some of these roles and some of these scripts would do just that – embarrass my 9-year-old son or my father who is receiving cancer treatments.
CP: Were you brought up in a Christian household? Can you share a little about your faith?
GJ: I was raised in church; my mother is Catholic and my father Presbyterian. We didn't put a lot of weight in denominations as long as they taught Christ. So I have been to many different churches; I grew up in them. My parents and grandfather donated their time to feeding the homeless. I was very fortunate to have been brought up in a strong Christian home and the values that I have that were instilled in me as a child, I kept. If you bring up a child in the way he should go, when he gets older, he will not depart from it. That's what my parents were trying to do with us.
They didn't push the acting. It's funny, I remember when the person in the shopping mall came up to my mother and handed my mom a card and said, 'She's got to be in the movies,' and I was the driving force behind my career. I pushed my mom to make the call. They were all about family, keeping me grounded, not disrupting my brother's life – for the most part, we stayed in New Jersey. I worked in New York and didn't do press for the movies; my mom turned down requests for parties and stuff because she wanted me to be as normal as possible.
"CAMP" is available on DVD from Roebuck Media and Word Entertainment. For more with Grace Johnston, including talk about her trip to Israel and the Palestine – Israel conflict, keep reading The Christian Post.