Where Dreams Live: Lendale Johnson Interview
You never know who you will start a conversation with on Twitter. For the past few months I have been following Lendale Johnson. Recently I started chatting with him about his career and his numerous media interviews. His multi creative lifestyle as a professional tennis player, actor and a model have inspired many to reach for the stars, Check out our recent chat…
If you had to label your “career” self in order of preference, how would you place athlete, actor, entertainer and model in order?
A lot of models aspire to be actors. I’ll throw it out here and say that I can do it all and more. I label myself first as an athlete, then model, and lastly actor. Tennis has put me in the position I am in now. I truly love playing the game, and coaching others as well. I am branching out into the modeling world more and more, which feeds my love for fashion and photo shoots. Acting is something I am looking forward to in the next 2 years. I am excited about training and learning the ropes as an actor. I actually don’t like to label myself as an entertainer. I am just doing what I love to do, and what my heart enjoys. Sometimes I see myself on television doing interviews, and laugh at myself. I will think, “Why did I say that on TV?” That right there, is entertainment. I sometimes yell at myself in French on court during a match. Then, I think, “I hope no one can understand what I am saying. Stay positive…. Stay positive.” Coaching yourself through stressful situations is key. I am just honestly so humbled and grateful at all of the opportunities that sports has given to me. I love connecting with my fans from all walks of life the most. It makes everything I do priceless.
Tell me about your professional tennis career. How did that begin?
It’s a long story actually and yet I am still at the beginning stages. Success definitely doesn’t happen overnight, but you can never give up. I started out entering ITF Pro Circuit tournaments, but then was forced to stop due to the immense financial requirements to be on tour. I told Bleacher Report all about that. When I was on tour in L.A., I ran into Ally Michalka, and also hung out with former top American tennis player, Taylor Dent. We met in the players lounge during my Calabasas tournament. I am an aggressive player and fighting for a breakthrough on tour this year.
Have you met Serena yet?
I haven’t yet, but hoping to run into her later this year. You know we love our selfies! So follow us on social media, and who knows? Maybe I’ll be lucky and snag a selfie with her! She’s such an inspiration to so many, including myself. I would be thrilled just to have coffee with her. (Serena, CALL ME!) 😉
What brought you off the court and onto the runway?
I like to express myself and take on new things that will add to my skill set. I had the pleasure of being the celebrity guest model for the 1st annual Black Fashion Week in the US. During the fashion show I closed for a few designers and spoke after I finished walking. It was like second nature. I definitely have the modeling bug!
Give me some modeling advice. Is it true women have to be very tall and super skinny?
To me, it is all about confidence, your presence on the runway, and just owning it. Surprisingly, the super skinny cliché is not always true. Thankfully, models are now accepted with all types of shapes and sizes. Top tier agencies still tend to be extremely selective though, which I think will always be some sort of standard throughout fashion. However, the final season of America’s Next Top Model had no height requirements. Some countries have even regulated model sizes due to many reasons, such as health issues caused by these unreasonable standards. Just shows how social media and progressive thinking have changed the fashion industry. If you have a great commercial look, then you can always go for print as well, which is a lot of fun! This is 2016. Sure there are supermodels and unattainable looks, but we are all real people at the end of the day. Own who you are and rock your look!
Do you have a favorite clothing line or accessory brand that you cant live without?
Oh yes. I love Perry Ellis! A friend of mine back home gave me a crystal, and it stays around my neck unless I’m forced to take it off for a gig.
Would you say modeling got you your gig on Empire?
Absolutely. Empire was casting for ‘African American male models.’ I thought, “Wow! This is the perfect opportunity!” I submitted some of my best photos with fingers crossed, and prayed every second of the day. The next thing I knew I was on set with the stars! I was like a kid in a candy store!
Tell me about your acting career, is this something you plan to continue in the future?
Most definitely! Since Empire, I filmed for Spike Lee’s ChiRaq, and have been offered gigs with an agency called Pyramid Talent that is based in ATL, LA, and NY. I have also been collaborating with a well-known casting director who works with Tyler Perry.
I love your charitable side. I see you are walking to help the homeless…
I truly love helping people. There’s way too much money in the world for people to not help the homeless. I volunteered with Chicago’s UIC’s Men’s Tennis Team at the end of the summer and we literally feed the homeless on Michigan Ave and State St. for their non-profit program called “SPARK.” My hometown asked me to stop by again this Spring to walk and support in their annual “Walk To End Homelessness 5K.” I plan to do that as long as my tennis schedule isn’t interrupted. In the near future, I plan to have my own charitable organization.
You’ve gotten a lot of major media appearances. What was your first time on Fox news like? Where you nervous?
It took a while, but I am finally getting used to being on television. My very first televised interview was really exciting! Being new to the spotlight at the time, I remember waiting in line in Chicago and people kept asking for photographs and autographs. It was like a snowball effect. Audiences, fans or not, can be quite interesting sometimes, and not very supportive, but I do treasure my die-hard fans that I have gained from all of this. They have no idea how much I appreciate and lean on them to keep me motivated. Although, I oddly appreciate the nay-sayers as well because I am always up for a challenge and doing what other people think I cannot. Guess it is the athlete in me!
What is your motto in life?
Be grateful for what you have and more of that will come into your life. Stay positive, and never give up. If there aren’t any opportunities, then create them. It’s all about making dreams come true!
Greatest lesson you have learned so far to date?
Stay humble, true to yourself and go after your dreams. Life will test and challenge everyone, but you have to take on a new mindset and keep it movin’.
Where can we find you on the Internet?
Everywhere! I love being online and interacting with my fans. Plus, I am always working online. I just joined WhoSay last summer. It’s a social media platform for celebrities and influencers. I have to admit that I am a huge Twitter fan. I post a lot. It may annoy some people, but hello, I am having so much fun! It keeps me connected with everyone in all aspects of my life and work. I like to be nosey too and keep up with my fans, fave celebs and brands. I do post on Instagram and Facebook as well. Twitter can get crazy though. Sometimes I honestly have to ignore the shenanigans on there, but I can always count on it for entertainment during down time between gigs.
What upcoming projects can we see in 2016 from you?
This year has been off to an amazing start. I just signed a contract with an international talent and management agency in Texas called Meraki Models & Talent. I have a book signing at Barnes & Nobles (locations coming soon – check my social media and website for more info). I am also speaking at a Boy Scouts community event, working on a project with TLC, my reality TV show, Arthur Ashe “Kids Day” at the U.S Open, and so many other exciting things. I love working and staying busy… I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love, and to live my dreams. I’m looking forward to the best year, and it will just keep getting better!
You can visit me on my website, www.lendalejohnson.com, which will have some cool updates soon, and you can check out my coaching info as well. I am @lendalejohnson on all my accounts. Find me, follow me, and keep up with my shenanigans!
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