After years of devoting her life to her family, and to nursing, Suzanne Johnson finally listened to her heart and made the leap from being a mother and nurse to following her dream of an acting career. She began her journey by enrolling in acting classes and combing the internet for casting announcements, gamely submitting herself for every part she thought would be a good fit.
In her first feature film, Empty Space, a powerful drama, she was cast as a waitress in a rural diner trapped in an abusive relationship. After that role, she was hooked. A series of parts followed in several shorts, student films and features. Suzanne played a range of roles, including a mother to a dying girl in a faith-based film, the love interest of a sheriff in a rural town, a hippie psychic, and a Southern socialite with a poker fetish. It was a solid start to her film career but she wanted more. What would be the next big step?
Working with her acting coach, Damon Shalit, they brainstormed how she could further her career. They decided that one great course of action would be to not only act but to produce a film in which she could star. Damon suggested she read some screenplays, and also recommended Joshua Henkin’s best-selling novel The World Without You. She immediately connected with the powerful material, and the character of grieving mother Marilyn deeply resonated with her. Apart from great similarities in their personalities, Marilyn’s trajectory as a mother who loses her only son to a terrorist act was an emotional journey that Suzanne felt compelled to fulfill.
She optioned the rights to the novel and commissioned the screenplay. What followed exceeded her expectations: a compelling script that resonated with everyone who read it, including Suzanne herself. Shalit, who helped develop the project, went on to make his directorial debut with the film. The World Without You attracted an all-star cast and is currently in post-production.
For Suzanne, this has been an incredible journey for both her and her family, who have supported her throughout this process. She can’t wait to share this story – and her own – with the world. Stay tuned!