JOHANNA TOLENTINO: ACTING OUT HER PASSION AND DREAM
Johanna Tolentino is an actress from Puerto Rico who was raised in Patterson, New Jersey. She coincidentally became an actress at the age of 16 when she was approached by the writer of Lean On Me, starting Morgan Freeman, to audition for a principal roll.
Johanna explains: “I was attending school at Eastside High School. My principal was the famous Joe Clark, of which Lean On Me was based on. They held an open casting call at the school and I went with my friend Linda who was serious about acting. I was helping Linda run lines while we were standing in this long line in the gym. Then I get tapped on my shoulder by the writer of the film, Mr. Michael Shiffer. He asked me if I would go with him to the audition room. I was taken into the casting room with the producers. I had no experience at all as an actress so Michael explained to me not to look into the camera and just say the lines to him. He told me to do exactly what I was doing with my friend while I was in line helping her run lines. Two weeks later I got a callback. I booked a principal role as Conchita.”
When asked about her acting career Johanna states: “I am constantly reminding myself that this is a passion and a dream.”
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ONE ON ONE WITH JOHANNA TOLENTINO
What project(s) have you worked on that you enjoyed the most and why?
I have enjoyed every project I have been a part off. However, if I have to pick there are two that are my favorites because of the valuable lessons I learned.
First the episode I just worked on for Law & Order SVU titled Caretakers.
The producers session was one of the toughest callbacks I have gone through. The director Jono Oliver went from one direction to the other. I had to quickly make choices on camera and be fluid. It was like being in a masters acting class.
It was the same for when we shot the episode. I love being challenged when it comes to my craft and Jono did just that, he challenged me as an actress with his direction. He is such a gifted director and I feel very fortunate to have worked with him.
The other would be when I worked on Creed with Ryan Coogler, though the scene I was in did not make it to the final cut of the film. It’s something that happens in film and television and that actors generally have no control over. I do however hold onto the pearls of wisdom from Ryan and what I learned on set working with him.
Ryan’s directing style is like no other. He gently explains to the talent what he is looking for in the scene. He comes over and speaks very softly to the actor. His energy is very calming but precise. Ryan is an actors director and truly a master at his craft.
What advise can you give to actors looking to book television appearances or feature film roles?
The best advise I can give any new actor or actress is to take on camera acting classes to help you hone your skills. Take on camera workshops, with casting directors and agents. Learn the business and treat it as that, a business. You are the CEO of your acting career.
Also, go to film festivals and support your fellow actors while also meeting industry people. Always work on your craft not just on camera work but also theater. Be a well rounded actor/actress.
My amazing manager Drew Elliot has reminded me that out of 10 auditions you only get to book 1% of those. So we need to constantly keep working our acting muscles. It doesn’t matter how big or small the role.
What has been the best advice given to you in your acting career?
When it comes to auditioning the best advice I have received has come from Anthony Abeson, an acting coach in New York. Anthony’s advice was to be in the situation not the audition. To have an understanding of where you are coming from in the scene and be present.
That advice has freed me as an actress when I’m auditioning and when I’m working on my craft. To be in the moment and to fully understand that moment from beginning, middle and end.
How supportive are those around you?
I do have a small but beautiful circle of support around me. My friends that I call my family are always encouraging me. I’m blessed to have them in my life. We are all artists and we encourage one another to pursue our dreams, no matter what. And my beautiful sister Nelita is always encouraging me to follow my dreams.
What actor inspires you the most and why?
Rita Moreno is the actress that has inspired me the most. First she is a fellow boricua and second she is also from my hometown, Humacao Puerto Rico.
Since I was a little girl I have dreamt of meeting or even working with her. I still remember her from the film, West Side story and saying to myself one day I’m gonna be in a movie just like Rita.
She is fierce. I love watching her performance as the family matriarch in the sitcom One Day at a Time. Her body of work through out the years is outstanding. As we say in Spanish, es un Orgullo (she makes us proud).
What projects are you currently working on?
I worked on Creed 2, it opens in theaters on November 21st. I am in a scene with Michael B. Jordan. I feel very fortunate to have gotten an opportunity to be in the sequel.
I also worked on the television series, Gotham. The final Gotham season starts January 3rd 2019. I’m in episode 2.
Along with my rep team I’m focused on auditioning for recurring television roles and principal film roles.
Check out Johanna in her first ever acting role as Conchita in Lean On Me, starting Morgan Freeman. In Lean On Me, based on true events, the dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve it by any and all means.
She’s also made appearances in Keep In touch, Patty Cake$, The Black List (S:4, E:7), Orange Is The New Black, among others. Of her most recent appearances is in Law & Order: SVU (S:20, E:7). Also, check out Johanna’s IMDB page. It includes all of her recognizable television and film appearances.
Johanna’s manager is Drew Elliot from Artists International.
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