Quarantine Thriller, Safer At Home, is a film starring Dan. J Johnson from Starz hit show, P-Valley. The film Safer At Home takes place in 2022 with a group of friends on a Zoom call whose night goes haywire. The Knockturnal spoke with Dan about the film, COVID-19 and the protest footage.
The Knockturnal: How do you think quarantine has affected the mental and emotional state of people all over the world?
Dan J. Johnson: I’d say that the main emotional and mental status is a feeling of loss. Loss, literally, because as of today (2/22/21) we’ve lost ~500,000 in the U.S. alone to the virus – absolutely devastating loss. Businesses are being toppled because of the economic crisis, and the massive failure on the part of the federal government. On top of all of this, a lot of folks have lost a sense of “self.” We are identified by the company we keep, the lives we live, and the actions we take, and this has all been yanked out from underneath us by the virus.
The Knockturnal: As our world experiences COVID-19 and police brutality, what is the Black Lives Matter Movement all about? Towards the end of the film, I thought about George Floyd and the many others that have died because of police brutality. When you see the trend of black men dying, how does that make you feel? What do you believe could be done to create unity and inclusion?
Dan J. Johnson: It’s tough to talk about the BLM movement without looking at the history of the U.S. and how this country was built on the backs of slaves, and how that in and of itself set the “ball” rolling in a very specific direction… but to me, the BLM movement is about recognizing the disparities between the white community and BIPOC communities when it comes to education, economics, healthcare – pretty much all aspects of life. Then, beginning to break down the causes of those disparities, and start to tackle these disparities. This can only be done by admitting that our current systems uphold white supremacy, and working to changing those systems and ideologies.
The Knockturnal: In the film, Evan’s friends witnessed his death through a video call via zoom. How has technology been most beneficial to the world during this time? For our students, what would you say to those who are having difficulty adjusting to the virtual classroom setting vs. in-person learning?
Dan J. Johnson: Overall Zoom and other video conference call tech has had a positive impact on the pandemic because we realized we can still get some things done, and continue connecting in a different way. The zoom technology and social media have allowed me to keep in touch with people I used to be able to see weekly, as well as given me the freedom to connect and have crazy happy-hour zooms with my sisters who live on different coasts. Obviously, it’s different, but positive, overall. For students and those having a rough time with the transition, my advice is to reach out and ask for support, and if you have the means and access to work with a therapist, do it. They can help give you the tools to cope and get through this super challenging time.
The Knockturnal: Martin Luther King fought for the rights of all people despite race, religion, sex, etc. If he were alive today, what do you think he would say about our country?
Dan J. Johnson: I think he’d say we still have a long way to go.
The Knockturnal: How is the role you played in the film Safer At Home, different from all of the other films you have starred in?
Dan J. Johnson: The distancing we practiced during filming was the main difference. It was mainly just me, or me and Jocelyn Hudon (who played Jen) in the house we were filming in together, plus one or two crew people. Will, our director, along with the rest of the amazing cast and crew, pulled it off in stellar fashion.
The Knockturnal: In the film, Evan runs from the reality of his girlfriend’s accident. What would you tell people who have struggled to face reality? Or even panicking under pressure? During these 9mes of uncertainty, what are some ways you release stress and work to find peace?
Dan J. Johnson: I find that the simplest act of breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes really helps my state of mind when I find myself spiraling or panicking in any way. But, I also know that the varying degrees of panic and anxiety aren’t always so easily remedied. The dream of a robust universal healthcare system in which mental health is completely covered would be my most immediate wish for everyone. Since this is not the reality in our country, I just hope that people going through a rough time have a strong network of friends and family that they can rely on to help them find relief. And for those who don’t have that, I hope they can find help through the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255, or counseling using resources like betterhelp.com (not an ad, just resources!).
The Knockturnal: In the years to come, what can viewers expect from you next?
Dan J. Johnson: I’ve got a couple of things in the works, but this summer I’ll be heading back to work on season 2 of “P-Valley” created by the amazing Katori Hall on Starz, where I play the character of “Corbin Kyle.