Kennedy Johnson


“If I’m feeling unsure, the battery pack to get me through it are those challenges I faced in my past.”

Words by Justice Nnana + Pictures by Mark Clennon

Kennedy Johnson has the type of energy you have to see to believe it. Her Instagram handle, @PresidentKennedy, suggests a humor and grandeur that Johnson absolutely lives up to in person. She hosts a live show called “Live with Kennedy” where she uses her magnetic energy and relentlessness towards her most authentic self to connect with her following of 50k strong. “I know what I want and I’m out here getting it.” Johnson’s current ambition is acting—although she makes easy-work of hosting gatherings big and small. Most recently she teamed up with HBO to chop it up for the “Dope Beauty Bar” in celebration of the hit show “2 Dope Queens.” “Dope Queen” is a title that feels fitting of Johnson, who when we sat down expressed humility and gratitude for the momentum she’s experienced in her career as of late. “Authenticity ALWAYS wins!” her Instagram bio reads. It’s an empowering message that rang true when I looked into her eyes, felt her warm smile. She sat down and told me “I’m moving in a way that’s more me.”

Can you describe yourself in a sentence?

*Audible gulp* Dramatic. Sincere. Happy. Humble. Grateful. I’m an Aquarius---my rising is in Taurus and my moon is in Scorpio.

For this ‘Thoughts Become Things’ series, could you share a positive thought that you often have and a negative thought that you often have?

My positive thought would be, ‘Damn. You out here really getting it!’ I’m genuinely thankful for that. I’m really just grateful to God, because I can always remember when I wasn’t in this position in my life.

My negative thought is that I’m not doing enough. I have a tendency to compare my situation to another person’s situation. Those thoughts don’t last for long, but it is a thought that I have that I’m working on not having anymore.

James Baldwin said, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” What history do you carry with you most as a contemporary creator?

I know that as long as I don’t stop, I will get what I want. Period. If I’m feeling unsure, the battery pack to get me through those times are the challenges I’ve faced in my past. I made it out of that, I’ll continue making it.  

Greatest challenge and greatest benefit of being a minority in a creative industry?

Biggest challenge is self-doubt. Not believing in yourself. There are a lot of incredibly talented people, but they don't move forward because they don’t believe in themselves.

Biggest benefit, we poppin! It’s our time. We’re shining—I wouldn’t want to be anything but black. I cringe at the possibility of trying to be anything else.

How do you use your community to move your goals forward?

I’m all about the community. I created an hour-long show called ‘Live with Kennedy’ where we sit and talk about the real things that are going on with us and happening in the Black community. That open line of communication with my community, that is magic. That connection with people opening up about things we’re all dealing with, it’s just magical. Knowing how to use social media to connect with people I’ve never met, it’s been beyond anything I could ever imagine. Instagram was made for us to connect with people, and so I use that resource to connect with the people who I need to connect with.

True or false- “When they go low, we go high.”   

It’s absolutely true! My mature self, my grown self, is taking over and is saying you should absolutely go high when they go low.

Imani Ellis