Adrienne-Joi Johnson, better known as AJ Johnson, first appeared on movie screens in the Spike Lee film School Daze. But her role as “Sharane” in the cult-classic House Party continues to live rent-free in the lives of many. The success of the House Party franchise would bring on many sequels, but noticeably, the character “Sharane” was absent from them all. AJ Johnson opened up about her experience on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast and expressed how much she got paid, which was LESS than her infamous Burger King commercial.
Upon its 1990 release, House Party went on to become a massive success. The film, starring Kid ‘n Play, Tisha Campbell, and a star-studded cast, had a budget of $2.5 million and achieved over $26 million at the box office. From there, House Party 2 and its third installment were respectively released in 1991 and 1994. Two more films in the franchise were released via direct-to-DVD.
In the original film, Sharane was definitely the energetic, life-of-the-party character. The choreographer in real life also had a memorable scene in the movie where both Tisha Campbell and AJ Johnson engaged in a dance battle with Kid ‘n Play to Full Force’s song “Ain’t My Type of Hype.” Who could forget the yellow spandex outfit on AJ Johnson?
Fans would be pleased to know that Johnson can still do the dance routine from the film, which she also choreographed. The thought that she can’t do it is baffling to her, as she emphatically asked, “why does everybody think I can’t do it?” The 58-year-old actress laughs with Jemele Hill until she finally reveals that she can still do the dance, but “better, more now than before.” Then, AJ Johnson confirms to Hill that she was indeed only paid $4,000 for her work on the film. According to Johnson, filming took place over a span of two months, and everyone who was involved in the film made the same amount due to a “favored nation clause.”
Johnson then explained that once the film came out and achieved its success, Burger King would come calling to acquire rights for certain scenes in the movie for their commercials. One of the commercials included the scene where Play tells Johnson’s character that they had to get Kid from jail, to which she only agreed to go once he promised her a trip to Burger King. According to the actress, they ultimately made more money from the Burger King commercial than the film.
Johnson and Hill also discussed the plans for the film’s reboot. In February 2018, it was announced that Lebron James’s production company would be in charge of production. The film will star Jacob Latimore and Tosin Cole and will be released on HBO Max. Filming began over the summer of 2021 but had a moment of a pause due to nine positive Covid cases from extras and one crew member. While Johnson shared her belief that they have finished filming, she also revealed that she was not involved in any way as she was not asked to be. Johnson also spilled a little tea from some people that she knows were involved in the film, claiming that it was “a bit unorganized in terms of how it went down.”
As for why AJ Johnson never returned for any of the film’s sequels, she claims that she decided to discontinue Sharane’s character. Johnson credits the film’s creator and director for allowing them the ability and freedom to creatively direct their characters. But when it was announced that House Party 2 was happening, the original creator was no longer involved. “He is the vision, so where do we go without him?” questioned Johnson.
Upon receipt of the script for the film’s second installment, Johnson shared that her vision for her character and many of the others were not quite met. But when she turned it down, Johnson stated that she was then offered the role in the first Sister Act film along with others. You can watch actress/choreographer AJ Johnson speak with Jemele Hill on her experience with House Party below.