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Opportunities from the Most Unexpected Places


When actor Tamara Johnson decided that she wanted to attend college, she had to look for funding outside of her family.  “My father had money to send my brothers to college,” she tells host Victor Russo, “but they didn’t go.  And my sister and I wanted to go, but he didn’t have any money for us to go.”  So at the age of 16, she walked up to an attorney at church one day and bravely asked, “Mr. Anderson, do you know of anyone who would like to send a little girl to college?”  Little did she know that this lawyer was already a scholarship donor in the theatre department.  So after they discussed the details of her request, Mr. Anderson picked her up and funded her college tuition for the next four years.

Johnson has known that such questions have a high risk of rejection, which could lead to embarrassment and even scorn from others.  But growing up in a dysfunctional family, she determined at an early age that she will create her own future and not let family troubles drag her down.  And thanks to this encounter with the lawyer, Johnson learned that one can ask anyone anything.  So with great determination and the confidence to ask even daring requests, Johnson has created opportunities from the most unexpected places.

One such opportunity is In Haste, Laura Keene, a one-person show that Johnson wrote about America’s first female theatre producer.  She conceived the show in 2000 when she was looking for work in Indiana, and she brought it to the stage in a way that may surprise you.

In this episode of Stories in the Sky, Johnson talks with Victor Russo about her works on film and on stage, her creation of In Haste, Laura Keene, and her encounter with a ghost.


Tamara Johnson is an actor and instructor at the College of William & Mary.  She performs as Calpurnia in the current production of Julius Caesar at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, which runs through July 20.  You can find more information about the festival and inquire about Johnson at the website,

Note: This interview was recorded on February 26, 2013.

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