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Anjelah Johnson Talks Bon Qui Qui, Her Last Name, and Chapstick


The comedy world has always been dominated by hombres, but with Anjelah Johnson selling out clubs nationwide, she's giving them a run for their money. Johnson, who was nominated for an ALMA Award for her work on MADtv in 2008, recently debuted a one-hour special, The Homecoming Show, on NUVOtv. We caught up with Anjelah recently and she was excited to talk about going back to her hometown of San Jose and getting her family and friends involved in the special, who her famous character Bon Qui Qui was inspired by, and what beauty product she can't live without.

Congrats on getting a comedy special on the new NUVOtv network. Why was this different than any others?

It was a really cool experience! For my special I got to go back to my hometown of San Jose and I was able to include my family, my friends, and the people that I grew up with. I am who I am because of how I was raised and that's my village. So it was cool to be able to come home and share that with everybody. We got to do some behind-the-scenes stuff where I got to introduce my family [to viewers].

Bon Qui Qui has taken on a life of her own! Do you ever get tired of playing her?

Yes! I am so appreciative of the fans who have grabbed a hold of her and love her so much. But it's like when bands are asked to play their greatest hits; it's kind of like a love/hate relationship. You hate doing it over and over but at the same time it's the song that bought you your house. So you're grateful for it, but I'm more than this joke or that one song! I have so many other things that I do, but people just love that character so much.

How was did you create the character of Bon Qui Qui?

Bon Qui Qui is a character that was inspired by two people, firstly my brother. He is ghetto fabulous, has no filter. and a total trendsetter! When he starts doing or saying things everybody starts doing it too. Even with something as simple as him answering the phone saying, hella, instead of hello. Before you know it, all our family and friends are answering the phone that way! This is exactly how Bon Qui Qui is.

The other [inspiration] was a girl I met at a drive-thru Burger King in Memphis a couple of years ago. She totally changed my life. So Bon Qui Qui is a little bit of her and a little bit of my brother.

With a last name like Johnson, I had no idea you were Latina. What was it like growing up?

I always wanted a more Hispanic name, you have no idea! I was a little wanna-be Chola growing up trying to be about the hood -- with Johnson as a last name. You know no one was scared of a girl named Anjelah Johnson!

So I was always trying to be super Latina and secretly wishing my last name was something like Sanchez. I'm Mexican-American and we have a huge family. The only thing missing was that Hispanic last name. My mom's maiden name is Castañeda, so for the longest I was trying to go by her last name but my family would get so offended! I would tell my dad, "This is not about you dad, but Johnson ain't cutting it right now." I needed that street cred!

But today, I embrace the name Anjelah Johnson. So even when I married Manwell Reyes and I could finally get my Hispanic last name, it was too late!

You've had other comedy specials, why was it special to have one on NUVOtv?

This network represents me, so it's the perfect place for me to have a comedy special. I am Latina but I'm also American and this network is catering to audience like me. This isn't like Telemundo, it's its own thing. Yeah I'm a Latina, but try to talk to me all in Spanish and I may not understand everything. I love this network and I love what their doing. I'm honored to be a part of it, especially from the ground up.

And partnering up with Jennifer Lopez, I'm sure this means we're probably good friends now, but I'm not quite sure.

We know a lot about Anjelah Johnson the persona but not much about you personally. Do you have any guilty pleasure television shows you enjoy watching?

My guilty pleasure television shows are crime shows. I'm all about Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, and The First 48. Any kind of crime drama, I'm all about it. There is a special way I watch them too; in a certain order. So if Criminal Minds isn't on I go to SVU, if First 48 isn't on, then NCIS is on the tv somewhere. But if NCIS isn't on then, I don't even know what I'd do. I don't know what it is but I love creepy, criminal shows.

Is there a beauty product that you can't live without?

Chapstick! I always have to have Chapstick with me. If I feel my lips getting chapped I can't even focus. If someone tries to talk to me then need to wait until I've put on some Chapstick. [laughs] I keep them all over the house. If I ever leave home without one I just buy more and put the spares in different purses. Sometimes I've switched purses so many times that I will end up with like seven different Chapsticks in one bag and like 42 scattered around the house.


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