The Raised by Wolves actor always knew stage and screen was his ‘calling’… and he won’t stop until he wins an Oscar!
Like millions of kids, Theo Johnson’s first taste of the stage was performing in his school play. And for most that’s where it ends – but not for single-minded Theo. Acting has always been his focus and now with the first series of Channel 4 drama Raised by Wolves under his belt, it’s all coming together. In 2011, while at college in Walsall, Theo’s acting group The Venue entered a UK-wide competition along with 500 others to win a chance to perform their play on stage at the National Theatre. The Venue stood out and triumphed with its play titled Gap in which Theo played the lead role to fantastic reviews. “It was amazing and to get five-star reviews was brilliant,” he said.
Theo was invited back to his old college when Lenny Henry came in to have a read through of one of his scripts with the students. “He needed someone who could rap as well as act, so the college called me back in. Lenny was proper nice. A good guy.” While he enjoys meeting well-known names, Theo isn’t overawed by them. “I would always be respectful of experienced actors, but I wouldn’t be star struck. My acting idol is Will Smith, but I wouldn’t even go funny about meeting him. I’m not like that.” Theo has done a variety jobs including modelling and music, but he sees these merely as stepping stones to get to where he wants to be.
The key to getting the TV gigs was a chance meeting with Alan Sharman of Birmingham’s Alan Sharman Agency. Theo was performing his R&B tracks at the Clothes Show Live for which he’d built up quite a following when Alan spotted potential in his good looks. Modelling jobs followed and Theo voiced his desire to get into acting. “Alan started to put me forward for auditions and I kept getting the parts.” A handful of commercials, viral videos and a couple of Crimewatch reconstructions meant that Theo was starting to gain valuable experience and exposure. When the audition for Caitlin Moran’s Raised by Wolves came up Theo was ready. “The casting people weren’t planning to use any of the models for speaking parts, but they made an exception and gave me a character role. I got to work with some great people and a lot of praise from the director which was nice.” Theo has his head screwed on and thought it would be wise to get a degree alongside pursuing his dream, so the week he started filming he found out he’d achieved a 2:1 in teaching and drama too.
THE BIG SMOKE
When Theo signed a London agent recently, he was asked if he’d move to the capital, but he declined. “I don’t feel pressure to move to London. I’m free to go where-ever I like and I put myself in the right places. I don’t have anyone depending on me – it’s just me and my mum, so I’m happy to drive to where the work is, but I don’t see a reason to move completely.” At 21, Theo’s future goals are simple and delivered in such a matter of fact manner that you totally believe they will happen. “In the short term a second series of Raised by Wolves, but ultimately to win an Oscar. My screensaver is a picture of an Oscar and I won’t stop until I have one.” Watch this space…