Tell us a bit about your origins in acting and entertainment.
I got my start in acting when I did a student film for a friend of mine named Jason Van Veen back in 1993. I’ve always been a joking kind of guy. That’s just my personality. So, Jason took a liking to me and offered me a role in his film and I loved it. Then I started doing more student films but acting wasn’t my focus. I really did them to stay busy but my mind was on hip-hop at the time.
Did you have designs to make recording music your career?
Oh, most definitely. At one point, I was even signed to Too Short’s label under the name Slink Capone. I got a chance to get a taste of that life. I got to do a bunch of records with him and tour the country. Obviously, I didn’t blow up as an artist and somehow I found my way back to acting.
One of the first times I recall coming across your work was 2007’s satirical Gangsta Rap: A Glockumentary. What kinds of reactions did you get from people?
Most of my peers and the people around me liked it but it kinda got slammed by critics. I didn’t read a lot of good reviews for it but at the time I wasn’t trippin’. Hell, I’m still not trippin’ today. I mean, I loved it and I still get people that come up to me all the time that tell me how much they loved it.
A lot people don’t know, but you’re the voice of Lamar in Grand Theft Auto V. What’s it like to be a part of that franchise as big and popular as it is?
It’s crazy. Like, dude, I’m on GTA V! You know the numbers it did? Sometimes, I lose sight of the magnitude of it. I can only imagine if all the people who have this game knew who *I* was. I’d really be on to something. That game made a billion dollars in three days. Now, I don’t know how many copies that equates to but come on … it’s GTA!
Another pop culture entity you’ve been a part of is Sci-Fi Channel’s Sharknado. What was that like?
I love being able to shoot a gun in a movie and not be a thug for a change. But, yeah, to be a part of that phenomenon was a blessing. It’s like one of the biggest events in television and especially in the history of the Sci-Fi Channel. When the people called and offered me a cameo, I jumped all over it. With that one, I was glad for the chance to expand my repertoire a bit and play a soldier, you know? So, I was definitely glad to have that experience.
Let’s talk “Black Jesus.” For those unfamiliar with the show, explain its premise.
“Black Jesus” is your laid back homie that is chill and wants to see the best in everybody. To quote 2Pac, “They say Jesus was a kind man/ then he should understand times in this crime land,” which means he understands what’s going on in the world we’re in today. It doesn’t mean he necessarily condones it. He’ll maybe try to help you find another way around it. Black Jesus is your buddy, your cousin. He’s the son of God but it’s 2015 and he lives next door to you. He likes what you like. He likes to smoke a little weed. He likes to party. He likes to chill. He loves to love and he just wants everyone to love, respect, and be kind to each other, and just follow God’s rules. But again, he’s your homie. He’s not the fire and brimstone Jesus you were taught about when you were 6 years old that made you scared to go to church. Nah, Black Jesus will keep it one million with you and tell you when you f**king up like “Look here, you cruising for a bruising…”
Though the show is now on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim channel, the series originated online. Take me back and tell me your initial thoughts when the idea was pitched to you.
Man, I was with it because I’d be working with Aaron McGruder and at that time “The Boondocks” was so hot. “Black Jesus” actually started as a skit from a online sketch show we had called the Super Rumble Mixxshow and it just happened to be one of the standout sketches that people really responded to. Adult Swim had been on Aaron to come up with something else in addition to Boondocks so he brought Black Jesus to them. At the time, I didn’t think about the religious backlash the show might receive. It was just a funny concept.
While Black Jesus was coming along, you know Aaron’s a really good dude, you know things have to be developed, it takes time. So he’s telling me to hold on. He’s like the Puffy to my Biggie. He had me do the Lando Freeman episode of Boondocks but I was still out in the streets doing what I had to do to keep my belly full. Then I got caught up and had go away for a little while but when I came home Aaron sat me down and told me like Puff told Big like, “Aye yo, you want this money? You gon have to chill!” So, I finally listened and chilled out and let the process take it’s course. It took some time to mature and be ready for TV but six years later here we are.
You guys are number one in your timeslot with an average of almost 4 million viewers a week. What’s your reaction to the show’s success?
It’s crazy man. It’s truly amazing. The type of love I’ve received is just amazing. I’m a guy that likes to think deeper and always try to go deeper you know, beyond the surface level of things. I just hope that this show is doing something for a lot of people more than just making them laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I do want them to laugh, but if this show is also helping to bring people to spirituality then I’m thankful for that too. You know there’s a message in the comedy so if it makes you want to build on your spirituality and makes you wanna be a better person then I’m happy for that.
What can we expect from the upcoming “Black Jesus” Christmas special?
It’s gonna be a hilarious episode. We’re going outside of the box on this one. I don’t want to say too much and give it away but it’s gonna be one for the books so make sure you’re there on Nov. 27.
How are you adapting to your new found fame because of the success of “Black Jesus”?
It’s a blessing and it’s humbling but it’s a trip. I’m at a point in my career where I’m at a crossroads where I’m still enjoying some of my anonymity but I’m still receiving recognition. It’s not too much recognition that’ll keep me from doing my daily duties but it’s enough to remind me that people are watching so I gotta stay on my P’s and Q’s. You know coming out of the places we’re from you know we’re always focused. We’re always watching our back and watching for each other and mean mugging because that’s how you gotta be. But I have to get past that mentality and remember that I’m now somewhat of a public figure. I be places all the time and guys be ice grillin’ me and I’m thinking, “Do we have a problem here?” But then he may eventually come over and go, “Hey, ain’t you that dude … ” But then sometimes I’ll be out and folks just stare and sneak glances but it’s all a part of the territory so I’m cool with it. It’s an adjustment but I’m adapting to it.
What’s next for Slink Johnson?
I got so much in the works. I’m doing stand-up comedy. I got my “Slink Johnson Standby Ticket” tour. A ni**a might be there, a ni** might not. I’m still doing web skits. They got me out here hosting parties and whatnot. I’ve also been auditioning a lot and also developing a few projects. I’m all about seizing the moment while it’s mine.
Black Jesus: A Very Special Christmas In Compton will air on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim on Friday, Nov. 27 at 11 p.m. et
Connect with Slink on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @SlinkJohnson