Po Johnson Po Johnson

Vixen Chat: Po Johnson Talks New Album 'Sound Collage' and Chasing Her Dreams

Po Johnson

Unless you've been living under a reality show rock, you're already familiar with La La's Full Court Life star (and LGBT supporter) Po Johnson. Raised in Louisiana, this larger-than-life musician had an interesting journey and credits a lot of her influences and choices to her bluegrass roots. "I’m from Baton Rouge, and it’s a very artistic scene with the blues," she says. "The culture is artistic in itself, so growing up in that kind of environment kind of spawned who I am today."

In her early 20s, making almost six figures, the creative junkie quit her job to pursue her passion--a leap of faith many people have yet to take. It's that vulnerability to devote herself to her passion that she is hoping will translate through her artistry. "I'm vulnerable, but that’s life," she says. "It’s happy, sad, and emotional. I’m horny, I’m not horny. It’s all of that."

And for that reason, Johnson ditched big names for her upcoming album Sound Collage: The Diary of Love Drunken Monkey, wanting fans to understand solely her talent first.

Vixen caught up with the reality star-slash-singer to find out what we still don't know about her, details about her upcoming album and her advice for others trying to break into the biz. -- Sharifa Daniels

Po Johnson

VIBE Vixen: What don't we already know about you?
Po Johnson: I’m a very calm, cool, collected person, but I’m also very driven [by growing up] in a not-so economically successful family and not wanting to live the same way. People see me on a TV as a super fun girl, but at the same time, I do maintain focus on what I want to be successful at. I make it a point to do something creative every day. I make it a point to write every day, sketch every day. And even if I write the worst song ever, I make sure to do it. That’s how I live my life. You can’t see that in a bio and you can’t see that on the show, so I want people to know that. I’m a fun girl but I’m deep, man.

What made you ditch everything else and pursue your passion?
I was making almost six figures at a very young age, which was cool, but the quality of life is more than that to me. If you love something so much you can’t stay away from it, it becomes a drug. That’s what music is to me. I can’t see myself going to an office and working at a place for the rest of my life just for money. I need to be happy on the inside and out. At the end of it, I’ll be Po Johnson. I can say that I tried.

That's truth. Will you get personal on this album?
I call it Sound Collage: The Diary of Love Drunken Monkey. It’s about all my emotions, not just a relationship, but going through a lot with my life and using the outlets that we have. I wanna show them what I’m thinking, what I’m really feeling. I wanna show them that I’m insecure, that I made a mistakes. I’m not holding back.


VV: Will there be any features on the album?Po Johnson

PJ: No. But I do want this artist friend of mine by the name of Spree Wilson to get on one of my songs. I just want people to know me first. I’m being selfish.

So in unselfish fashion, what advice would you give to those who are trying to break in the industry?
You have to believe in yourself. You have to be you biggest hype man. This is your life and you gotta be careful about where you end.

Why was it important to do everything independently?
I’m a very independent person. I’m not afraid to ask for help, but I am a person who likes to stand on their own two feet. People have the misconception that La La takes care of me and Dice, and that’s not the case. She’s emotionally and creatively supportive of my dreams, and it goes both ways. We’re there because she wants us there. That’s my friend. Do I have to be there? No, but I wanna be there.

Do you feel like it’s hard for you to find your own presence outside of La La's celebrity?
[Laughs] No. I have my own presence outside of them. To me, they’re more than friends, they’re family. Outside of the show, I have a bigger family and that will come to light very soon. The more you get into the Po Johnson story, people will see that aspect of that. I’m blessed.

Dope. Are you gonna be on the next season of the show?
If there's a La La’s Full Court Life, I’ll be on there.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Release Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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