Kevin L. Johnson wanted to program video games before becoming passionate about acting and landing a supporting role in Netflix’s Ozark, which is set to return for the fourth and final season in 2022.
Johnson grew up in Lake Wylie but also in Greenville and surrounding areas. He attended York Technical College, then transferred to Clemson University where he majored in computer science before switching to English.
“I thought it couldn’t be too hard, right? But then I realized there were a lot of calculations,” he said. He realized that specializing in computer science would be a bit difficult before changing specialization.
After his first semester at Clemson he wanted to try something new and figured that majoring in English would help him come out of his shell.
His first role, it wasn’t quite a role, he was leading the technology behind the scenes. After that, he auditioned for a role in The Burial in Thebes where he got a small role of “comic guard”.
“I’m not a professional singer but I didn’t know I had chops,” he said.
Johnson has said he’s a bit of an introvert but feels more comfortable playing roles because he doesn’t act himself, whereas if he was giving a speech he would be more nervous.
“It’s Kevin speaking, not the comedic guard facade,” he said. “Even though it’s me, it’s the layering of strategies.”
He still bleeds orange and purple as a Clemson fan and says Clemson football has very good defense.
“After watching the first game of the year I knew our defense was going to be good and we only gave Georgia one goal,” he said.
As for Ozark, he said his role as Sam Dermody opened a lot of doors for him.
He remembers when he auditioned for The Dropout, a Hulu limited series about Elizabeth Holmes.
“I auditioned for a recurring role,” he said.
The role was ultimately given to Kevin Sussman, who was in Big Bang Theory.
But as Sam Dermody he was only meant to be in a few episodes, but Johnson said he felt really good about his audition.
“I was told they wanted someone older,” he said. “But when I was driving all the way to Charlotte, my South East agent called me and said, ‘Hey, they want to book you for Ozark!’ And I was like, ‘What role?’, A- he said.
Johnson said when he found out he was so excited he almost had to pull over on the side of the road.
He said he remembered when the writers were writing episode seven of the first season and Sam Dermody’s mother appeared.
“We got to see her mom and now her character was building herself,” Johnson said. “They kept writing to me on the show, as a real estate agent to work in a strip club and meet the girlfriend,” he said.
Johnson has said Ozark is expected to complete filming in the coming weeks.
“It’s fourteen episodes,” Johnson said.
Without giving too much away, Johnson described the season as a continuation of the previous one.
The phrase they used last season was “All in”, referring to the poker business the Byrd family had started.
“Now that they’re all in it, they have to find a way out,” Johnson said. “Who knows what’s going to happen in season four, you’ll just have to wait,” he told The News.
Tamia Boyd is originally from Michigan and covers the latest news in Greenville. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tamiamb.