Gerald Slink Johnson is getting his Jesus on as the title character in Adult Swim’s Black Jesus which airs Friday nights at 11 p.m. Created by Aaron McGruder of Boondocks fame, it places Jesus in the South Central L.A. hood, along with a cast of neighborhood characters that he interacts with, including Charlie Murphy, Kali Hawk, John Witherspoon, Corey Holcomb and more. This Friday, our own Dominique guest stars. Although the show is in its second season, it’s generated some controversy for it’s satiric portrayal of Jesus. We caught up with it’s star to find out more.
Blackamericaweb.com: For those people not already watching, why should folks watch Black Jesus?
Black Jesus is a wonderfully written show very warm very heartfelt, warm and genuine show. And they should watch it and get them some salvation and did I mention it was funny?
How did you get involved?
I was pulled into the show by Aaron. It was God, it was fate, it was meant. It was supposed to happen like that. When I met Aaron, the show was a concept, it was just an idea, there was nothing written down. He hadn’t gotten as far as who would portray Black Jesus. It was the perfect time in my life. He took to my personality and my comedic style and that told him I’d be the perfect person for this idea that he had.
Were you hesitant at first to do a show with this kind of content?
I was like OK, yeah, let’s do it. Already being a fan of Aaron McGruder’s work, I knew he would do something that would be smart, funny and thought-provoking. I knew the guy would make some quality product. He’s a shining representation of us here in Hollywood.
Dominique guest stars on this week’s episode of Black Jesus. See an exclusive clip here:
You’re from a little town down South and your folks were sanctified, right?
I’m from Dumas, Arkansas. My grandmother was a very sanctified woman. I never heard her cuss – it takes more than that to be a good person but she’s displayed Christian qualities for all my life. I’ve never seen her backslide. She attended real sanctified churches and always kept her faith.
So how long did you wait to tell your folks you’d taken the role?
I told them as soon as I got home. Back when it was a web series, I was like ‘Mama, I’m finna play Jesus, mama.’ I didn’t care, because it feels good to me. Long before I cashed a check from the role, I enjoyed it and I had fun doing it. It felt good and it feels right. It feels like the right thing to do. I don’t feel like I’m hurting anybody. I don’t feel like I’m disrespecting anybody. People have their own feelings and assumptions but ultimately I have to go with what feels good to me and with my ideals.
As a Black actor in Hollywood, you weren’t trying to turn down a headlining role.
Not at all. It was a job. Most definitely.
But do you feel like Black actors are unfairly limited in what roles they can play?
I agree 100% wholeheartedly. We are very limited in the roles that are available to us. And the limited roles available to us are given to a limited number of actors. With so many Black actors in Hollywood, we still use the same ones over and over. Denzel Washington can’t play a 24-year-old basketball player anymore. C’mon. And even though he didn’t, I’m just using that as an example. There’s a whole lot of Black talent not being tapped into and we’re only being portrayed how they believe us to be and how they want us to be portrayed.
Do you want to branch out beyond comedic roles?
For me, comedy will be an excellent segue into doing everything that I want to do. Societal and social restraints will always be here but I think we’e mostly held back by our own process and our own ideas. I want to play a doctor one day. I want to play real roles. I want to be a soldier. I want to play an action hero. I want to do a biopic. I believe that through comedy and the opportunities it presents me, I can do that. I really admire Jamie Foxx. I want to model my career after his.
Do you do music as well?
Hip-hop and rap was my first love. I was signed as a rapper to Too Short as Slink Capone. I traveled and did shows with Too Short in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I have not had the chance to use it on the show but in connection with Black Jesus I’ve been able to get back into the studio. I’m definitely getting back into music. I’m working on a mix tape. The mix tape is called “The 40 Year Old Virgin.”
Don’t you think there’s an age limit to making rap music, though?
It’s only an age limit if you ain’t making no money. If you a 43-year-old clown at here still trying to make it rapping at the swap meet, God bless you, but people see you as a failure. If you’re Jay-Z, he’s 44 and still out here rapping. But what’s different from a guy who’s 23 and he’s still rapping at 43 but he never made it? Let’s say he has a day job and still supports his family but he likes to rap at night. Is anything wrong with that? Rap is an acronym for Rhythm and Poetry. Rap is conversation. Now what are you talking about as a rapper? If I’m talking about some stuff that 40-year-old guys go through in a way that we can understand, people are going to feel that.
Have you learned anything new about faith or religion since you started playing Jesus?
I think for me, and I will tell you the truth, what I get out of it is that I believe that God is there. I believe in God. I believe he’s there and working in our favor and he’s working in all of our favors. He has his way of reaching us all. He gave me a divine opportunity to represent him on Adult Swim and I don’t take it lightly at all. So what I get from it, is to try to be more Christ-like. I do know that I’m representing a power much greater than me so I need to reflect that in my daily actions.
Are people taking Black Jesus too seriously? Should it be about just turning it on and laughing?
Yes, you can turn it on and and laugh but that’s the beauty of Aaron McGruder’s amazing writing, is that there are layers there. You can stay at the first layer or take that layer off and say ‘Oh, he’s making me think.’ Some people are just enjoying that stop layer but I always tell them take that one off and look a little deeper into what we said.
Watch the Season 1 Blooper Reel above