A 'Felicity' star takes to song
Amy Jo Johnson tells EW Online how music is shaping her character
”Felicity” blurs the line between fact and fiction for costar Amy Jo Johnson. Johnson, who plays Felicity’s warbling, guitar-toting best friend Julie, is herself a part-time singer-songwriter. In fact, the ballad Julie performed in a recent episode was written by — you guessed it — Johnson.
The creators of ”Felicity,” who were familiar with Johnson’s background as the tumbling pink power ranger in the hit kids’ show ”Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” originally wanted the character of Julie to be a dancer. But Johnson, 28, convinced them otherwise. ”Right after the pilot, they told me how they saw the character, but I was a gymnast for 10 years, not a dancer,” Johnson tells EW Online, ”so I told them, ‘I can sing! I can play!”’
Although shooting the Golden Globe-winning series can take up to 15 hours a day, Johnson still finds time to perform in small Hollywood clubs with the ”acid-folk” band Valhalla — a four-member group she started in early 1998 with guitarist Tim Barretto, who works as a chiropractic assistant. ”We started talking during my visits while he would work on me,” says Johnson, ”and then we just ended up playing together.” A self-taught musician, Johnson bought her first guitar three years ago, picked up a book of chords, and started writing songs from her journal entries. But don’t ask her to play a guitar standard like ”Stairway to Heaven.” ”I can’t play one cover song,” she muses. ”I’ve never even gotten sheet music. The music is all in my head.”
Lately, Johnson has begun developing a local following. Valhalla’s February show at the 60-seat L.A. club Genghis Cohen packed in more than 100 fans, including supportive ”Felicity” cast members. Even so, don’t expect the actress to drop out of her college-centered day job anytime soon. ”Right now the music is more of a hobby since I’m making a good living as an actress,” Johnson says. ”But I have a hiatus coming up, and focusing on my music is exactly what I’d like to do then.” May we suggest taking the lead in a Joni Mitchell biopic?