EW exclusively reported last month that The Bold and the Beautiful would air a storyline about a married lesbian couple. Now Joanna Johnson, one half of the on-screen partnership, has revealed to TV Guide that she is a lesbian in real life, too. The actress, now 50, debuted as Caroline Spencer on the CBS soap in 1987 and went on to play Caroline’s identical twin Karen.
Johnson admitted it was difficult to come out until now. “There’s a greater intimacy between the viewers and the characters [with soap operas]. They think you are your character. And that creates a lot of fear. Fear of rejection. I was so worried I wouldn’t be employable as an actress if people knew I was a lesbian. Or that I wouldn’t be believable in romance stories. I had to deal with a lot of self-loathing,” she explained.
Johnson returns to play Karen after a thriving career behind the scenes — she created Hope & Faith and has written and co-executive produced ABC Family’s Make It or Break It and USA’s Fairly Legal. Off-screen, she is married to L.A. club promoter Michelle Agnew and has two children, 5-year-old Julian and 2-year-old Harlow.
The actress said she hopes to inspire future generations by openly stating her sexual orientation. When I realized I was gay in my early twenties we didn’t have role models like Ellen,” she said. “I’m not anywhere near as famous as those ladies, but I guess it’s my turn to do my little part. It’s time to live a fully authentic life.”