Ready for our LAST cast spotlight? Get to know La Dale “Reina” Johnson!
LTYM: Who IS La Dale?
La Dale: We’re still trying to figure that out, me and the rest of my personalities. I’m the mother to the ball of energy and giggles we call Johanna and also to a sexy, black beast of a feline name Pepper. I’m also wife to the hardworking Jonathan. Anything involving being creative gets me going! I work in the International Development field during the day, but in my off time I plan events, craft items for weddings and parties, paint on faces as a makeup artist, and pretty much anything else that lets me be expressive. I’m also a spiritually rich Christian who strives to live the life God has planned for me with grace.
LTYM: How did you discover LTYM?
La Dale: I first heard of LTYM last year when my friend Taya Dunn Johnson auditioned for, and was accepted as, part of the cast for the 2013 show in DC. I thought it was awesome that she was doing it, but at the time I had no thoughts of doing it myself. Then this year I thought, let’s try something crazy in 2014! And what do you know, that’s when I saw a blog post about auditions for the DC show. Fate? I think so.
LTYM: What is the craziest thing you can remember saying to your daughter and what is the craziest thing you remember your mother saying to you?
La Dale: Unlike my off the cuff mother, I am hyperaware of everything that comes out of my mouth towards Johanna. Whenever I was being, well, me, in all the annoyance that could bring, my mother would say things like “La Dale, I will slap the black off of you.” And her face would be so serious that I just knew as a kid that it had to be possible, and I was in awe. “This is totally possible, isn’t it? I mean, could she really slap my whole race off of me? Dear God, this woman is powerful!” However, I could never say something like that to Johanna. While my mother’s words gave me the giggles because, hey, we were cut from the same cloth, my beautiful girl is so delicate and aware that I’m afraid my words would go straight to her heart. She, on the other hand, has zero problems making me feel like an idiot. Currently we are having a fight over my husband. That’s right, I have to fight a 3 year old for my man! She sees him and says “there goes my husband!” I fall into the trap every time and say “actually Johanna, he’s my husband.” She never fails to make me feel silly by sighing “oh mama…” while shaking her head slowly with furrowed eyebrows and disappointment and concern washed on her face. She’s just a step away from waving me off with dismissive indignation.
LTYM: What is one of your favorite things you’ve ever written?
La Dale: Oh gosh, the “I can out stubborn you” fights I have with Johanna and write about are my absolute fave! In the moment the fights suck, but when I read about them later, I can’t help but to laugh and feel a little dare I say, pride? She is her mother’s daughter through and through and I love it! This piece I wrote about it being us against her still gives me the giggles: It’s Us Against Her.
LTYM: When did you start thinking about your mother as a person and not just “mom”?
La Dale: The night before she died. My mom had been in the hospital during my entire pregnancy. Watching her lay there dying as I was pregnant was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. I wanted nothing more during my pregnancy than to tell my mom about all of the changes I was experiencing. To hear her tell me stories of when she was pregnant. To complain to her about how I had to walk up a stupid hill every day to get to work and it was wearing me out because this kid thought that my sciatic nerve was the place to be while she was napping. I wanted her to go with me to hear the heartbeat and to find out the sex. But instead I would sit by her bed and tell her what I could during the times that she was coherent and not doped up on pain meds. While she was sleeping I would hold her hand against my belly so that my baby would have some physical connection to her, you know, just in case… I still remember the light in her eyes when I told her it was a girl, then the fear that clouded them as I can only guess that she wondered if she would be here to meet her. I gave birth to Johanna on January 12, 2011. A couple of days after her birth I ended up in ICU, so it took us a little while to bond. Then on the night of January 18 as I was holding her, I fell completely in love. Our connection was finally sealed and I thought about my mother’s connection to me. I thought about how she also didn’t have an easy delivery, but she was proud to be a mom. I was hers and she was mine, bonded for life. And I was thankful, so thankful for the mother and woman that she was. It was at that moment that I whispered into the atmosphere mom, it’s OK now. We’ve bonded. It’s OK now. I knew deep down inside she was waiting for that to happen. On the morning of January 19, 2011 my mom passed away knowing that she could finally go home. I had someone to love me the way I loved her, the love between a child and their mother.
LTYM: What do you wish most for your daughter?
La Dale: My number one wish for my daughter is that she always, always, always keep the kingdom of God first. It can be very hard to be a proud, out loud Christian who stands firmly in their beliefs in today’s world, but that is the foundation with which we are raising her. I want her to dream big, then make it happen! Not to be afraid like I was of doing what I really loved because it wasn’t sensible and “what if I end up living out of a cardboard box???” I wish for her to know that from her very first sigh as she entered this world, I was proud of her and I will always be proud of her. She amazes me. Watching her personality develop is one of the greatest gifts life has ever given me. She has to know that she is smart, beautiful, kind, capable, and that she is enough. The world will try to tell her that she isn’t, but she is because she is fearfully and wonderfully made.
LTYM: Thanks La Dale!
Read more about La Dale on her blog, Johanna’s Mama. Now that you’ve met the full cast, are you ready for the show??
More importantly, have you purchased your tickets yet? Space is limited so don’t wait! Click HERE for full details.