What Is Success For An Artist? by Rhomeyn Johnson
Film Courage: You said something that triggered my memory of two different interviews I watched recently. And both of those artists came from a small town explaining that the area in which they came from had a supportive network. However, it was never okay to try to rise above the group.
Rhomeyn Johnson, Actor: [Laughs]
Film Courage: Because if you did, then they said “Oh? You think you’re better than us?” So can you talk on this? I think this is a very big part of people’s upbringing. They have a great support system but there is an unspoken or even spoken rule where you don’t walk to act like you’re better than us or smarter than us or who do you think you are to do this over us and have just the normal life that we have back here in our small town?
Rhomeyn: Okay, let me say this. I don’t get that because most of the people that are close to me that are friends from home or whatever, they know what I’ve gone through and the struggles out here and it’s kind of funny that (I’m being serious) whatever resentment they might have for me they don’t bring it to me because they know what I’ve been through.
I mean I literally was on foot for a number of years where I had an old beat-up car and what not, because my music lessons (my voice lessons) I would study (the teacher before the man I got) she would have me come once a week and I couldn’t really sustain what she was teaching me as far as my vocal training.
And when I got with Mr. Harris he said “Let me tell you something, you’re going to have to come two to three times a week.” He said “Because I’ve got to build this voice up. I’ve got to build this whole thing up.”
So I said “Wasn’t I supposed to be singing from the mask and using my diaphragm?” And he said “Yes but it still has got to come through your throat. We’ve got to build that up.”
He’s a singer himself and he said “I want you to come and check some of my people out at a concert we’re giving.” And I went and I was like “Wow!” So he said “It’s not cheap. So you’ve got to make up your mind as far as how much you want to spend and how much your really want to do this.”
So I was catching busses and standing at the bus stops and in sub-zero freezing like this. And my friends and people knew this and saw me. My first fiancée or whatever you want to call her, my teacher lived not far from her. And I was standing at a bus stop in the bus stall and I saw her car. She loved Kentucky Fried Chicken and there was like a Kentucky Fried Chicken behind where I was at. I’m standing on the street in the bus stall like this and there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken behind us and I sat there and saw her car go through the drive-through and it comes out on the side where I am. It goes in this way and then goes around, right? And I’m standing here like this and I literally knew that she and her sister or somebody in the car were looking at me and I didn’t look over because I was at a point where I was like “Okay this is who I am and what I’ve got to do.” And they drove off. That was a hard thing for me to deal with. That was a hard thing for me to deal with but I said “Okay, this is what I have to deal with.”
And so people that I saw were close to me (my parents, sisters and good friends) I never got that from them because they knew and they still know what I am going through.
So if nothing else they say “Man, wow?” I have people who are really impressed with the fact that I’ve been doing this this long and…well I’ve been fired a couple of times in this, too. But you always go to the next job. But they’ve been impressed with the fact that I’ve done this this long and I make a nice living believe me. And people I run into that I haven’t seen in years say “Wow! You doing this? That’s hard isn’t it?” And I say “Well look at me. Does it look like I missed any meals?” And they say “Yes, you have put on a little weight?” And I say “Yes.” And I say “You don’t put on weight from not eating. You put on weight from eating. So I’m doing pretty good.” And I don’t say this to anybody or any of them but over the last 10 or whatever years I made more money per year than they’ve all made…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).