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Lamar Johnson on Holding the Keys


Lamar Johnson stars in SHOWTIME's Your Honor alongside Bryan Cranston and was on The Hate U Give.
Photo: Felipe Sanclemente

Lamar Johnson is an artistic savant. As a dancer, model, artist, creator, photographer, and actor, he truly does it all. And he does it with ease. Within his work, all of Lamar’s talents blend to create the perfect storm of creativity.

“I think all of these things just encompass who I am as an artist. It is me. So, it is always apparent in my work through whichever medium I choose to explore and express through.”

It's no secret that whatever Lamar touches turns into art. And his Instagram is hard evidence of that. When scrolling through his Insta pics, his creative talent shines through every image. No matter what picture you click, the content frames him as an artist. This has labeled him as a fashion and style icon to the more than two hundred thousand people that follow him.

Despite his massive following, Lamar likes to keep his social media use to a minimum, “I am quite a private person naturally. I simply choose what I show vs what I want to keep private and hold close to my chest. I share, but I do also hold things for me as well.”

Just imagine all the beautiful art that he doesn’t share… tragic. Thankfully, Johnson’s latest project allows his fans to indulge in his creativity.

Most recently, Lamar put his artistic talents to work in SHOWTIME’s limited series, Your Honor. This legal thriller, out now, follows the story of a New Orleans judge who faces a world of drama after his son is involved in a hit and run. Lamar plays Kofi Jones, an elemental character that impacts the narrative in many ways.

Lamar describes constructing his critical role as Kofi Jones to be an interesting process. The preparation for the part was unlike anything he has undertaken before. Because his character, Kofi Jones, experiences a vigorous arc on the show, Lamar had to do a lot of research to get inside the character. After an extensive amount of homework and questions, he left his performance up to hope, “On the day of shooting, I just hope that it all lives in my body and can be present with those tools.”

Although Lamar describes his role in Your Honor as difficult, he is no stranger to challenging projects. In 2018, he starred in the heart-wrenching movie, The Hate U Give. This compelling film, based on a best-selling book by Angie Thomas, documents the life of a teenage girl who grapples with racism, police brutality, and activism after witnessing a cop murdering her friend.

Lamar describes being a part of the film as beautiful.

“To see the support the movie had, and the engagement of the story was inspiring. A joy to be a part of art that is bigger in its messaging than what’s on the surface. Integral. Grateful.”

Just like his role in The Hate U Give, Lamar hopes that one day he too can create something with such a resounding impact. When asked Mud’s signature question, what does it mean to be young today, Lamar responded,

“What it means to be young today is to be able to hold keys. Keys to the future, keys to influence, and movement of culture. Our youth is our future, so it always starts there.”

The artistic gifts displayed throughout both Lamar’s work and life reveal that his hands hold these essential “keys” necessary for change. More importantly, he is currently unlocking many doors not only for himself but also for others to become inspired and follow.


This story appears on the December 20 issue of Mud, "Lisztomania." You can purchase a digital and print copy here.


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