Name Tianna Viviean Johnson
Random question: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? I think I would want to be brown. I think that the colour brown is always overlooked because we associate it with dirt and other unpleasant things. For me, it’s the colour of comfort. It reminds me animal skin rugs and hot chocolate and mahogany wood; all the things associated with a comfortable home in the woods. Brown even has a smell to me. It smells like fresh wood chip and the smell of the earth after a rainy day. It’s wonderful and comfortable.
Are you a bold introvert? Have you always been one? I have always been a bold introvert. I didn’t even discover that I wasn’t an extrovert until I was eighteen when someone explained to me that introversion isn’t synonymous with shyness. I know for a fact that I’ve never been shy. I am the kind of person who always speaks up for people who are not able to do it themselves. This has gone from being on the school counsel every single year throughout secondary school and eventually manifested to its true form in university. Throughout my final year of university, I advocated for black students and other marginalised groups but focused on blackness. I was placed on boards to speak to many academics who tried to gaslight me and invalidate the experiences of black students on campus. However, this culminated in me securing a BME counsellor for BME students and getting three new modules for marginalised identities added to my course, including black revolutionaries. I have always been bold and used my voice, and I am always the life of the party. This is why people always tell me I’m not an introvert even though I am. At the end of the day, after all of this activism, I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone; I just want to curl up with a book and some mocha for a week.
What do you do? I am a playwright and a screenwriter. I have recently gained recognition from two major UK theatres, the Leicester Curve and the Nottingham Playhouse. Both theatres have put me on their writer’s development programmes and so I will be working with them closely to re-write my debut play “COON.” I haven’t got the recognition for my work in screenwriting yet, but I have just secured a job with an independent film company as a script reader. This involves reading scripts and writing reports on them for my superior’s to read. I get to engage with the plot, the characters, the quality of the writing and whether there is a gap in the market for the film. It’s very exciting and hopefully will allow me to build up my creative network. Most importantly, it will allow me to work from home so that I don’t get burned out from all of the social interaction. I prefer it this way.
My work always surrounds black women’s stories in the UK, particularly those from a Jamaican background like I am. I find that black stories, especially coming-of-age stories resonate around black masculinity. They almost always have drugs, gang culture, and violence embedded in it; along with toxicity in friendships. Why do black stories need to have all of this crime in them to make them exciting? And why do white coming-of-age stories, like St Trinian’s or Mean Girls not require these things? I intend to fill the space of black feminine stories that have been neglected both on screen and in theatre.
What are you most proud of? Despite being in the UK for three generations I am to first in my family to complete secondary education, college education and now university education. I intend to do my masters and PhD to raise the bar for all of the young black women in my family.
Do you feel that your personality trait has helped you achieve your goals? I think that it has. Being confident but being an introvert helps me get a lot of balance in my life. I find that loads of people overindulge in too much of one thing and feel unhappy or depressed but I have these two parts of my personality that encourage me to go out and to stay inside. It also makes me a friend you can have fun with but also the friend that you can cry with. I’m very balanced and in tune with my emotions which has extended to my emotional health and helped me be successful.
What advice do you have for introverts that are worried about chasing their dreams? Chase your dreams in the way that you feel most comfortable. The world normalises and champions extroversion but you are still amazing and just as valid, even if you do prefer your own company.