Ireyon Johnson on playing Octavia Spencer’s lesbian daughter in the film “Black or White”

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In New Orleans, aka “Hollywood South,” Ireyon Johnson is on her acting grind. The actress recently appeared in the film Black or Whiteplaying Octavia Spencer‘s lesbian daughter, Kristen. Ireyon said when she wasn’t able to get time off from her day job to play the role, she quit. In her mind, taking the opportunity to play the small, but myth-busting role was worth the risk.

Ireyon Johnson

Ireyon’s character is a hard-working successful woman with a wife and two sons. Though she wishes the role were larger (she’s mostly spoken about and referenced to), the actress says she is grateful for the opportunity to portray a queer woman of color in such a positive light.

“There aren’t many lines, but [my character] is referenced in the movie,” Ireyon said. “See, the movie isn’t just about race but also love, forgiveness and family. That’s where my character comes in. The story isn’t about the queer woman of color, but they try to bring in that storyline to show that love has nor color and knows no gender.”

In addition to providing more visibility for queer women of color on the big screen, the role also helps to dispel the myth that African-Americans are less accepting of their LGBTQ family members than other races. Ireyon is proud to help showcase a diverse, tight-knit, loving and accepting black family to the big screen.

“No one saw my sexuality. They just saw me as a person. And that’s important,” Ireyon said.

Kristen Jeffers

Now Ireyon must concentrate on breaking some barriers and busting some myths in her own personal life. Though she is making an effort to follow the advice from co-stars Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer to keep preserving in her career, she finds that she is being typecast. In an industry where heterosexual people are cast as queer and cis-gender folks are playing trans* characters, Ireyon is finding herself being limited by her sexuality and gender expression.

“I’m a shoe-in for some of these LGBT roles, which is great, but I don’t want to be put in a box.” Ireyon said. “I am more than just my lifestyle. I’m more than just an androgynous lesbian. I love breaking barriers. Don’t get me wrong. But I never want to limit myself or what I can do.”

In the meantime, Ireyon is producing original music, designing a line of clothes called Chase Dat Truth and urging others to “Dream it. Live it. Wear it.” After all, Ireyon whole-heartedly agrees with the advice that Octavia Spencer gave her while on the set of Black and White, “Your dreams are yours. You are the only one who can make them come true.”

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