[as originally featured on yourblackworld.net]
By: Chamar Logan
Gayla Johnson is an Actress and Stand-up Comedian. As a veteran theater actress, Gayla has starred in: For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide when the Rainbow was Enough: A Raisin in The Sun; LaBrea Tar Pits and more. Diverse with a background in Theatre and a Degree in Broadcast Communications, she flowed into public speaking and then the challenging field of Standup Comedy. She has made guest appearances on Comic Unleashed, SiTv’s Laff Jam, Inside Joke, B.E.T. Comic View, and more. Gayla views her industry through the eyes of a female entrepreneur, making every gig count in building her business. Of course, she has faced rejection many times, but she continues to push and reap rewards, like her upcoming role on Criminal Minds. Along with being an actress, and comedian, Gayla is also involved with real estate investment. Gayla did an interview with Your Black World and shared tips on entrepreneurship, her role on Criminal Minds, how to balance and manage multiple projects and what’s next for her.
Regarding Entrepreneurship and How to Have a Lasting Career
“In order to have better, you have to do better. We aren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths, do better to do better. There is an expectation that most entrepreneurs put up like “I’ve achieved so much, at some point someone is going to give me something”. If you believe that, you’ll be waiting and waiting. As you continue to achieve, and expect recognition or reward, when you don’t get it, the more bitter and discouraged you’ll become. It can change the dream or objective a person can have. Instead of expecting someone to recognize or acknowledge, or give me, what can I give? I’m not an entrepreneur so I can be someone, I was already someone before I started. I’m an entrepreneur so I can contribute.”
On Her Criminal Minds Role and Maximizing Opportunity
“Criminal Minds was awesome! It was one of my first times being in a recurring situation. I’ve been in a couple of guest star roles, usually it’s start, work, finish. I just wrapped on that episode and I’m thrilled to be doing more recurring roles. The more you get to come out, and be yourself, the more amazing, and that’s how you get those spin-off shows etc. I played Chief Wagner, Chief of Police for DC and she takes no mess! I was also in braids for the episode, and this is the first time there has been braided hair for any law enforcement officer on Criminal Minds, so I said, “Let me wear that!” This is why I say, what can I do for others? I could’ve easily said no I don’t want my hair braided, but they had a design and a vision for me, and my job is to serve. If you open your heart to serve, you’ll be surprised how it helps you. I loved it!”
On How She Balances Entrepreneurship, Acting and Various Roles
“I look at the people on my team as another entrepreneur endeavor. Those people need love, support, information. They need the tools that they need to work with. They need to be said happy birthday to, if I don’t take care of them, they don’t take care of me. I met an actor who said his agent wasn’t doing anything for him. I asked what he was doing about that, he said I’m just waiting and I call every day. So, I said, you do realize that your agent gets ten percent of your check, they do ten percent of the work, you have to do the other 90%. If you aren’t doing that, how do you expect them to do the ten percent? Take life into your own hands and stop waiting for someone to do it for you.
On What’s Next
“I’m working on my Netflix special, that’s what comics do these days. I have my comedy album out called Black Wives Matter and I’m working on my new album.”
Advice to Up and Coming Entrepreneurs or Actors
“Finish your education, whatever that is. High school, if your parents want you to go to college, finish that. Rule out other options, understand that you are giving 110% percent of your soul and life’s work to one particular energy. I took away my back up plans. Anything you do in life takes on its own life and struggles to thrive just like anything else. Your back up plan should be your connection to your own spiritual world.