By Josh Graham-Chapman
Sometimes “destiny” is the only word that could be used to properly describe the way events unfold in our lives. Some things only seem right once they happen, but they leave no clues leading up to that epiphany moment that you would be standing there with more than you could have ever imagined. Michael Jordan would probably tell you he dreamed of winning NBA championships and MVP trophies, but even he would probably tell you that winning six championships was more than he ever fathomed. Yet when he stood there celebrating his sixth, it probably seemed like he was supposed to be there. In the same way, Justin Bieber’s mom probably felt like her son could make a living and support himself living someday by performing music. And while she couldn’t have possibly thought his music and name would have earned millions before he got his driver’s license, she was able to make sense of that first moment she saw her son on stage by recalling her 5-year-old little boy pounding on drums in the streets of their neighborhood.
Josh Henderson was born in the once “not-so-entertainment-friendly” city of Dallas, and 18 years later moved to LA to make it in Hollywood. Now fast forward about a decade later he returns to Dallas, not empty-handed or just to visit, but to star in the revival of one of TV’s biggest drama series in TV history, and the namesake of his hometown, Dallas. Now, when the then 18-year-old Josh Henderson told a group of his friends while they were playing basketball at a neighborhood park one summer day that he was getting ready to set sail clear across the country to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, he probably actually believed he would do well in the City of Angels. But even he couldn’t imagine his career would come full circle this way.
Dallas, the original series starring tenured TV titans like Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray, won four Emmys and was included in the list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME” by Time Magazine in 2007. The show spun out cliché cliffhangers and mysteries like “Who Shot J.R.?” – and an entire season that was later revealed to be the dream of one of the characters. The hit show was still being talked about years later when TNT announced in 2010 that it was going to revive the show and incorporate the new generation of the Ewing family and their trials and triumphs in modern Dallas life with their old family ways. Henderson got a call to audition for the role of J.R. Ewing III, or John Ross, the center of the new story line – and the rest is history. He’s now staring at becoming one of Hollywood’s most relevant entertainers haling from Dallas. Recently he sat down with ScoreBoard.
ScoreBoard: Describe the anxiety you felt when you got the call to audition for Dallas.
Josh Henderson: There was really no anxiety at all – mostly just excitement. I felt like I had a slight advantage being from Dallas and really had an odd feeling that I was supposed to be a part of this show. So I couldn’t get in that audition room fast enough.
ScoreBoard: What were you doing when you got the call or found out that you’d been cast for the show?
JH: After I tested for the show, I remember feeling like I did the best job I could do and felt really good about it. And my manager told me to stay by the phone one particular morning. So I was basically pacing back and forth in major anticipation for that phone to ring. And sure enough, it was the VP of the network telling me I had landed the role of John Ross Ewing. I called my mom as soon as I hung up!
ScoreBoard: This is a vibrant time for your hometown of Dallas in terms of mainstream television productions making it their playground. What do you think about the amount of the television shows – including reality TV – that are coming out of Dallas? What do you attribute that to?
JH: I think it’s a very exciting time for the city of Dallas in general. I feel like there are a lot of shows centering around Dallas and Texas because its kind of what America wants right now. Dallas is very kind of classic America. And it’s an exciting place these days – lots of development and good energy. It’s southern comfort and hospitality – and at the end of the day that makes people feel good.
ScoreBoard: What a cool opportunity this show is for you. But as big as it is, it’s not your first rodeo. What’s been your key to survival in Hollywood?
JH: The key to surviving in Hollywood is staying persistent and positive. Nothing in this city comes easy and the odds are always gonna be against you. Just gotta work hard and be prepared for that moment when you get your shot. Don’t let the rejection get the best of you. And for my case, just knowing that there is a reason God led me to this city and industry so I always kept the faith.
ScoreBoard: You’ve never had to wait tables or valet cars – and nothing against anyone that does, but that’s a route often traveled by aspiring entertainers who pick up and move to LA. Were there times early on that it looked like you may have to? And do you feel you would be on a bit of a different path if you had more hours taken away by a 9 to 5 type of job?
JH: I have been so fortunate and blessed to never have to get a “real job.” Everything happened so fast for me when I first came to LA and it kind of just never stopped. Sure there were times where it was slow but God always seemed to bless me with something as soon as those slow times hit. I have definitely learned that this business is never a guarantee so it’s important to save your money.
ScoreBoard: So be honest – how has it been to be miles and miles away from your family?
JH: Living in LA and pursuing this career takes commitment and sacrifice. So it was tough not getting to see or spend as much time with my family. When I came to LA out of high school both of my little sisters were so young. So I missed a lot of their growing up years. But now since I’m lucky enough to shoot Dallas in Dallas, I get to be a lot closer to them.
ScoreBoard: Speaking of not enough time, I know that you have passions and aspirations past just acting. How do/will you find the time to be a working actor always on set – and keep the creative juices going for other current and future projects?
JH: It can be tough trying to focus on other things while shooting a show like Dallas. It’s so important to me that people enjoy how I portray John Ross. And that the fans of the original Dallas are happy and loving the continuation. But at the same time I try and capitalize on the opportunities that a show like this brings. There are many other things I wanna do with my career. Like my music and also diving into the world of writing and producing.
ScoreBoard: You probably don’t have much down time now, but what do you do with your time off?
JH: I like to catch up on sleep for one. But also creating music, working out, hanging with friends and my dog Sadie are top of my list.
ScoreBoard: Some of your childhood friends (myself included) will know and recall this, but you were a bit of a class clown. I recall a specific time that you dressed up at school as a cheerleader.
JH: You had to bring up the cheerleader thing! Hey, I was 12, OK? And it was a joke for our pep rally. And maybe you forgot, but I did a mean round-off backflip in that cheer outfit that got me attention from the track coach that then led to 2nd place in the high jump at the Dallas city track meet.
ScoreBoard: You were a very good athlete. Many people don’t know you were almost headed to the University of Texas to play baseball. What role did sports play in your success throughout life?
JH: Sports were always the biggest thing in my life until I got thrown into the crazy world of the entertainment industry. I planned on playing baseball for a living so I definitely miss it. But sports gave me a pretty fierce competitive nature that I think helps me in this business everyday. It’s all about practicing your craft and being prepared – and hopefully being the better or the right man for the job over the other actors your auditioning against.
ScoreBoard: Competitive times call for inspiration. Do you have some inspirational words that you live by?
JH: I try to always be appreciative of what I have and thank God for my blessings. I’ve learned that I have nothing without Him and all of my successes are because of Him, so it’s all about giving the glory to God and staying humble.
ScoreBoard: Who is your role model in the business?
JH: I look up to a lot of artists. At a young age, I would mimic Michael Jackson and got a lot of attention for it. That’s when my mother started to get ideas that I could be a performer one day. I also loved the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen. And as I got older, I started impersonating Jim Carrey and that’s what kicked off my class clown stage. I truly admire actors like Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, and younger actors such as Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Foster – way too many inspiring entertainers to mention.
ScoreBoard: People forget that you got your start in Hollywood through music. How was that time for you dating back to Popstars?
JH: Popstars was such a surreal time for me. I wouldn’t be here doing this interview if it wasn’t for Popstars, nor would I have a career in this industry without that show. It was an amazing experience and it really taught me how to deal with nerves and how to audition and totally brought out the entertaining abilities that I believe I was born with. I am ever grateful for Popstars.
ScoreBoard: This is the question that we’ve all been wanting to ask- who has the hotter ladies – LA or Dallas? No pressure.
JH: And of course the ladies question. I’ll have to say that both cities have beautiful women, but there’s nothing better than a Southern belle. Amen.