As a long-time Supernatural fan, there’s a lot to be excited for this fall on television. There’s the prequel, The Winchesters, on The CW, with Jensen and Danneel Ackles executive producing, and Jensen Ackles’ guest starring role on ABC’s Big Sky (with none other than Reba as the big bad). There’s the return of Jared Padalecki in Walker for a third season (yay!) and a prequel for that show as well – Walker: Independence (nicknamed ‘Windy’ by its director and thus captioned that way in all my saved files), with Padalecki exec producing. At some point, Gotham Knights with Misha Collins will join the party. There is both excitement and controversy about all these shows because fandom is fandom, but I’ll be watching and reporting back in some fashion here (assuming I have a prayer of keeping up with all this TV!)
Although Jared won’t be appearing in Walker: Independence, his executive producing keeps it in the Supernatural extended family, and there’s a lot of buzz about the show, which looks absolutely beautiful in terms of location and cinematography. This week I got a press release spotlighting principal actor Justin Johnson Cortez, whose character Calian I’m excited to meet, so thought I’d share. (Parentheticals added because … because I’m excited!)
Native-American/Latino actor, writer, producer and all-around creative Justin Johnson Cortez is set to star in Walker: Independence, premiering Thursday, October 6, a spin-off prequel of the hit CW series Walker. He’s also set to star in the upcoming indie film “Gift of Fear”, which highlights the major crisis of missing and exploited women devastating Native populations across the US and Canada.
Set in the late 1800s, Walker: Independence begins with Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara) left for dead after her husband is murdered. She survives thanks to the Apache tribe who tend to her injuries and Calian, her Native guide who takes her to Independence and an uncertain future. On her quest for revenge, her path crosses with Hoyt Rawlins (Walker and Ten Inch Hero alum Matt Barr), which ultimately leads to an entangled relationship for the three characters. (Intriguing…). Johnson Cortez takes on this role with the weight of his ancestors on his shoulders – a Native Yaqui, he learned to speak Apache through an Apache translator on set. He also did the majority of his own stunts, including some impressive ones on horseback. (Looking forward to seeing that!)
“When this opportunity came up, I was a bit nervous because I wanted to make sure that the character was going to be represented in a positive way”, Johnson Cortez, who is Yaqui and Latino, says. “I didn’t want to represent the same old image of Native American characters onscreen, assimilating into Western culture, so I’m excited to dive in deeper and show the complexities behind this character. There is a way to tell this story by sharing his interests and curiosity in the town in the expansion of the West authentically. That’s going to come out when exploring his past through his history and experience in the world up to that point.”
Born and raised in Santa Paula, California, just outside of rustic Ojai, Johnson Cortez still lives in the rural house he grew up in. As a youth, he loved and excelled in anything athletic from skateboarding, surfboarding, snowboarding, football, baseball, to riding dirt bikes and motorcycles. It wasn’t until his mid-20s that he began showing an interest in acting and began taking classes, which ultimately led to getting signed with a manager and agent. Around this time, he also began writing as well, as he didn’t see roles that featured characters like him. Half Native Yaqui and half Latino on his mother’s side, he was disappointed in the lack of representation in film and television. He additionally has another project soon to be announced which highlights the lives of Native people in an honest and impactful way. Cortez has also guest starred on Fox’s 911: Lone Star and Lucifer. He also served as actor/writer/director/producer of the short film The Fall, a 2020 Skins Fest official selection.
A true handyman and artist at heart, Johnson Cortez enjoys using his hands to build custom furniture (his whole home is filled with his craftsmanship), riding his motorcycles, painting and doing art/stencil work out of wood blocks, and spending time with his wife Rachel and two daughters Olivia and Evelyn.
I was already looking forward to Walker: Independence for its fascinating premise, talented cast and its gorgeous locations and cinematography – now I’m even more excited!
And as a lifelong Supernatural fan, I’m so proud of Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and the entire cast for all the great story telling and wonderful entertainment they’re putting out in the world.
You can read the Supernatural actors’ feelings
about the show and the fandom (and fandom
itself) in Family Don’t End With Blood and
There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done –
links here or at: