The actor, producer, and former model Kenny Johnson, was born on 13th July 1963 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Shortly after his birth, the Johnson family relocated to a spacious 30-acre farm in Vermont, where Kenny was brought up.
Kenny played basketball and football during his college days, showing promise in both sports. After graduating, he worked as a model for four years, and was linked to prestigious agencies such as Ford Models and Wilhelmina. After living in Boston, Kenny settled down in Los Angeles for work opportunities, and eventually became an actor.
One of Kenny’s first jobs was doing TV commercials for LA Gear and other brands. The model made his TV debut in the early 1990s, with small parts in “Red Shoe Diaries”, “The Webbers”, and “Family Matters” to name just three shows. He also played Dave in the 1990 drama “The Forbidden Dance”, and Greg in “Mirage”, which was released in the same year.
In 1998, Kenny had a minor role in the first few minutes of “Blade”, in which his character, Heatseeking Dennis, was saved from a vampire. Three years later, he played Jimmy Joe in the unsuccessful war film “Under Heavy Fire”. Although his TV career had yet to take off, at the end of the 1990s he was cast in his first recurring role as Butch Barnes in “Pensacola: Wings of Gold”, appearing in a total of 27 episodes before being written out of the action drama series.
2002 saw Kenny make his TV breakthrough playing Detective Curtis Lemansky in “The Shield”. At first, he auditioned to play Terry Crowley, with the role being given to Reed Diamonds; luckily for Kenny, his audition impressed the casting directors so much that they asked him to play Curtis instead. Thanks to the good chemistry he shared with his castmates, Kenny’s character became a central part to many of the show’s storylines; during its impressive seven-season run, the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama.
Meanwhile, Kenny also guest-starred in “Smallville”, starred alongside Patrick Duffy and Stacy Keach in the Hallmark Channel film “Desolation Canyon”, and played one of the main characters in the 2006 thriller “Zzyzx”, which was reportedly shot in just nine days on a $1 million budget. The movie is often mistaken with “Zzyzx Road”, another low-budget flick which was released in the same year.
Following his years-long stint in “The Shield”, Kenny played the main character’s potential love interest in “Cold Case”, but left the show after just five episodes. He was later cast as Detective Hamilton Dewey in “Saving Grace” and made appearances in seasons two, three, and four of “Sons of Anarchy”, playing Herman Kozik. The actor directed and starred in his first short film, “I Heard the Mermaids Singing”, in 2008.
In 2010, Kenny reunited with various of his “The Shield” cast-mates for the Fox series “Lie to Me”. The following year, he teamed up with “Sons of Anarchy” co-star Ally Walker for the Lifetime series “The Protector”; however, none of these projects garnered him the mainstream success he perhaps hoped for.
Kenny soon became known for playing gritty characters such as convicted drug smuggler Frank Connor (“Few Options”) and a sketchy contractor named Matt Webb (“Prime Suspect”). In 2012, he guest-starred in season six of “Burn Notice” and season four of “The Mentalist” before playing US Marshal Max Clayton in the last season of “Dexter”.
Later, Kenny found regular work in “Bates Motel”, playing Norma Bates’ estranged brother Caleb. He joined the cast as a recurring character in season two, before being promoted to main cast member the following season. Throughout seasons four and five, his character made fewer appearances until the show eventually wrapped up. Then he had roles in “Covert Affairs”, “Solace”, and “Secrets and Lies”, focusing on dramas and thrillers.
Miss my SWAT familylot. But Luca & Germany are busy training. Great job this last Wednesday. We appreciate you fans so much !! Thanks for tuning in this week. I’ll get back. Soon. @swatcbs pic.twitter.com/5XQVAZ8RCk
— Kenny Johnson (@TheKennyJohnson) December 11, 2020
Since 2017, Kenny has been one of the main characters in “S.W.A.T”, the CBS drama series based on the 2003 movie of the same name. His character, Officer Dominique Luca, is a third-generation SWAT officer who was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age.
In July 2018, Kenny suffered unspecified injuries while filming the first episode of season two. The actor later sued the production company, with the case being settled out of court in February 2023. Although no exact figures have been made available, many assume that Kenny was paid handsomely for the injuries he sustained.
Kenny married actress Cathleen Oveson in December 2005, and in May 2009, they welcomed a daughter named Angelica Scarlet to the world. Cathleen and Kenny possibly met on the set of “Under Heavy Fire”; in later years, she guest-starred in an episode of “The Shield” and played a detective in “Saving Grace”.
Angelica is also an actress, and plays Kelly, Dominique Luca’s mentee in “S.W.A.T”. Kenny is clearly pleased with his daughter’s budding acting career, as he’s done everything possible to help her break into Hollywood. According to the “Blade” star, Angelica one day came home dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and demanded a role in “Into The Woods”. “They were actually auditioning for that role in L.A and she got the role,” he said in a 2018 interview. “She started doing musicals, and then she did a film with me a few years ago.”
A few years later, Kenny received a call from Shawn Ryan’s team – Shawn is a producer and writer known for his work on “The Shield” and “S.W.A.T” – and the latter wrote a possible role for Angelica into the series; she was then called in to audition, and landed the role, after an eight-page scene in which she mostly interacted with Kenny’s character.
In the same interview, Kenny revealed that he only discovered his own dyslexia diagnosis at 23 years old. During his school days, he had difficulty reading, and was often kicked out of acting classes because his teachers thought he was being deliberately difficult. After working with a private instructor for three to four years, he improved enormously, and has overcome dozens of obstacles since.
Kenny has an estimated net worth of $2 million, as of late-2023.