Hassan ‘Iniko’ Johnson is an American actor/producer is from Staten Island, NY, born on November 19th. His most noted performance was appearing on the HBO program ‘The Wire’ as Roland “Wee-Bey” Brice. Johnson’s first acting role was in the 1995 Spike Lee film “Clockers”; he also had a significant role in the motion picture “In too Deep”, which was based on a true story, and had a recurring role on ER as Darnell Thibeaux.
This veteran actor has appeared in movies ”Brooklyn’s Finest”, “Belly”, “The Devil’s Owen”, and many others. He has also worked on numerous video sets including Mya’s music video for “Fallen”, Killarmy’s ”Fair, Love & War”, The Roots music video for “Break You Off”, GZA’s video for “Knock Knock”, Obie Trice‘s ”Snitch”, Jay-Z‘s “Anything”, 50 Cent‘s “Just a Lil Bit“. Johnson also played a small role in Entourage as rapper Saigon’s manager. He also owns a production company called Autumn Leaves which he named after his daughter. With everything noted, Johnson has also modeled for Shady LTD Clothing as well.
With such an extensive career, we had to take a second to chat with Hassan Johnson to get the scoop on everything he’s done & doing…
BE Mag: How do you balance the high demand of your career and fatherhood?
Hassan Johnson: I balance it very well. Mainly because I’m a Libra so i have to balance i have no choice. you know Libras tend to live in that “perfect” world, so if somethings not right, it’s like its not conducive to what we trying to accomplish . So basically i just tend to it like my work. i don’t really take non if it too seriously because once that happens you put a strain of yourself so you cant do much about the uncontrollable things its just pretty much what it is and its not its only gonna be as challenging as you what it to be. I have a daughter who is in high school now so that the transition right there for me and from her adolescence going into adulthood that’s her transition. so I’m at that last leg, the last stretch and I’m a little hands on more now . She’s a good girl though, makes good grades . I really don’t have any complaints so I’m what you call one of those “spoiled parents”. I tell her she has to go above and beyond because she a black little girl and that’s just that. I say my best isn’t good enough we just have to grind to get what we want and that’s just how it is.
BE MAG: Now we know you from your movies (In Too Deep ,Clockers, Belly, and Brooklyn’s Finest) and you’ve done videos as well, can you tell us what you have going on in 2012 and what we can expect ?
Hassan Johnson: Just look for more progressive things from me, More energy and light hearted from myself. You know we all incorporate my character with the street type roles; the hustler, the drug dealer and all that’s good when you trying to tell a story. I mean someone has to do it and make that believable. So it might as well be the right person. But with me mastering that and still mastering my craft itself i just want to get into more progressive things, i was talking about this with Mykhi Pfiefer cause now he has made progression, he is transitioning into theater world and that the next ground to conquer. I actually just had this discussion with my agent right before this, its all about progression, So that even with theater it doesn’t always have to be ” Momma I burnt up da biscuits” you know. But people think with acting that if your not a classically trained actor you cant progress and cant do those certain materials and pieces. Even middle America is aware of that. We don’t have to keep re-emphasise it, but all i wanna do is break that barrier and i think we all would be getting somewhere.
BE MAG: That kind of goes into my next question. How important is it to you that young males especially black young males, see you outside of those typical roles?
Hassan Johnson: Its the most important thing! Only because through de-sensetation that’s how America views what they see on tv . That stuff resonates, it registers and its how they retain that information. that’s what they see all the time. if its me how am i with a hoodie on and we can talk Trayvon Martin , is a perfect example as far as current event s are concerned, then its a problem and thats what they see theyre frightened and am talking about all cultures colors and creeds, im not just talking about white people middle america being a upper middle class whether it be white, black hispanic or what have you. the de-sensetation has messed that up. so the we can get a little positive light and certain roles then people can understand that thats real too its not just what they see all the time you know with “the mencae 2 socities” and “the wires”. thats not just what we are good for. so its the most important thing as far as our art is concerned you know.
BE MAG: Are there any roles you won’t do?
Hassan Johnson: Naw! There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do. I take on any challenge and I say that because there’s always a beautiful and brilliant way to get that across without seeing or portraying it the way they want it, when it’s maybe against your moral and ethics. It’s still art! I appreciate the art, so I love to see the diversity in everything. The bottom line is you know it’s not about what they want to see and dictate all the time. It’s what we have to say is the right way to do it in a brilliant artful way. It’s not taking shortcuts, but it’s just honing the right skills to get across the right message. Take for example “homosexuality”, I would definitely play a homosexual, granted because that community needs to get positive light shed on it and there’s a way for me to bring that across and be believable because at the end of the day my fan base if they just see me get physical with another man on TV, they not going to believe it because that’s just what u want to see, there’s a better way to pull it off and make it believable than just that. “Unconventional means of telling a story” therefore no I wouldn’t turn down any roles, NO.
BE MAG: What’s your opinion on“reality television”?
Hassan Johnson: Ummmm, any skilled actor or actor period who is comfortable in they own skin isn’t biased. I’m one of them and reality shows are for whom reality shows are for. There are people who have personalities. That’s their talent,
their personality and if that the format or platform for them to get that across then so be it. I’m not biased to it at all. That might not be my cup of tea but its someone else’s.
BE MAG: What do you find is the biggest or some of the biggest challenges in entertainment
industry, especially with social media being so intrusive and big now?
Hassan Johnson: Well America has started all this. You know and it got to the point now where social media allows them to say any and everything! So if you can have this voice, then you’re on say the level of the celebrity or rapper you see on TV.
And that’s where the cheap shots come in because I have certain integrity to protect but maybe these people don’t. So therefore as a consumer they feel like they have the right to do that. And you know in some ways they do cause this is America. So I’m not biased we just have to understand the terms ofeverything, we have to deal with things on terms and so it’s like ok I know I’m making myself vulnerable when I involve in myself in social media period. There is really no way to fix it or make boundaries. There is no rulebook. You just have to know what you’re dealing with.
BE MAG: Ok, so to switch things up a bit, who is currently playing in your car or I-pod?
Hassan Johnson: Man I’m so all over the place!! But I’m gonna have to stick with the good ole native new Yorkers. Jadakiss! Fabolous of course, I’m on this Miguel right now, ASAP Rocky real tough, he’s got a nice young energy popping right now. I listen to everybody, I can’t even lie. I use to be that retro type guy with the WU-Tang and the Nas and the Jay-Z
for a while I was stuck in that box. But now if it’s good it’s good! The Rihanna/Chris Brown record (Birthday Cake) I like right now as well. Now even in my I-pod I can take you back with that Shalamar and that Frankie Beverly and Maze!! *Laughs I’m showing my age a little but you know I like it all, it’s whatever mood I’m in.
BE MAG: Are there any assumptions you want to clear up about you that people have? Is there something you even want to reveal to fans that they might not even know about you?
Hassan Johnson: Well, what I would definitely like to get across is the fact that, I’m just trying to break out of that real street thug persona. I have done it for so long and I’ve done it so well. And don’t get me wrong I embrace those roles, but I know I have a lot more to offer that people would love even more! I mean people always root for the bad guy and I dig it but I just have so much more for folks to root for. I mean my fans see me and they always want that “Wee Bay” and it’s cool and he is immortal and that character will always follow with me, but in order to progress like we talked about early the fans have to let me progress from thatera. Let’s move on *laughs*. I want to break from that. I’m funny, I’m a regular guy. I want to be able to tell a lighter side sometimes. I want to do romance comedy and you will see that coming from me soon. I have a comedy I produced and starred in called “the talent for trouble” it’s a comedy something different from me and a change of pace for me. But I think folks will like it.
BE MAG: Ok, so the ladies knew I was interviewing you and of course they had to get their words into this. LOL they all said they love you and think your fine! How do you deal with that attention? Do you feel you are a sex symbol?
Hassan Johnson: Naw! LOL! I’m just a regular dude man. No sex symbol. At least I can’t lead myself to believe that because then there’s a certain authentic about me that I will lose starting to believe into that. And it’s not by choice its naturally I don’t view myself as such. You know I get up and put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. I mean I give thought into my appearance of course I like to look and smell good but that’s as far as it goes. I know a female audience just wants a guy to look and smell good you know.
BE MAG: Are there any people on your wish list to work with?
Hassan Johnson: That’s a good one!! Might sound funny coming from me but I’ve been finding myself moving towards working with Jennifer Love Hewitt! For some reason I think we would have a great chemistry to tell a story. Just getting the right material and it’s a go.