EJ Johnson on Representing LGBTQ Community in 'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder' (Exclusive)

The actor joins 'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder' as Michael.

EJ Johnson is bringing something -- and someone -- new to the Proud family! The former Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star joins the cast of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder as Michael Collins, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a character that is a first for the series.

“It's amazing and it's really exciting to bring the character to life and allow young people, who are like me, or similar to me, to see themselves represented,” he tells ET. 

Johnson says that, although he is playing a teenage character, he feels a connection to Michael and what he represents.  

“I think another great thing about the character is, as we both kind of shared in high school, that we were just there with the friend group,” the 29-year-old says. 

“It wasn't a conversation to talk about. Whether we're talking about gender or sexuality, we just like to be there. And to be fabulous and to be loved by friends at school and just living their best life," he adds. "That's just very much a similarity between the both of us. And that's definitely something I wanted to showcase with this character. I love that that's how it turned out.” 

Johnson’s portrayal of Michael on the reboot allows him to put his personality on display. “I think that this character really is very much connected with me,” he says. “I definitely made it my own and they do give me the space to do so.” 

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder is premiering 20 years after the original series aired on Disney Channel. This time around, Michael, Penny and the gang will explore various topics that may have seemed taboo at the time of the original.  

“We can be more forthright in our discussion about various topics,” executive producer Ralph Farquhar says. 

“You know, topics such as dealing with the LGBTQ community, specifically the Michael character, which we totally revamped, re-voiced, reimagined if you will. We hired EJ Johnson to voice that and bring the authenticity that's something very different. Also the addition of Zachary Quinto and Billy Porter, as same sex parents. These are things which would not have happened 20 years ago, trust me, not possible,” he notes. 


Kyla Pratt, who is reprising her role as Penny Proud, says that Louder and Prouder is the “2.0” version of the original. “I've always loved in the show we talk about things that people shy away from and, you know, now we're going to do the 2.0 version,” she says. “And, you know, you're addressing so many things, we're helping people feel seen. You see that family dynamic, and it's just absolutely amazing.”  

Jo Marie Payton, who is returning as Sugar Mama, echoes Pratt's sentiments, saying that the series promotes a space for everyone. “We were making sure that everybody's seen and when I say everybody, that's everybody that you consider family,” she says.

"Your family is not just people who you share the same blood with. Your family is anybody that's got your back, that cares about you and wants the best out of you," she adds. "So, we're not only making people be seen. We're making them feel safe. In that aspect, it is safe to be who you are, what you are, what you like, what you love, where you live, it's OK."

"It's OK for our LGBT family, to be who you are and be strong," Payton says. "We’re shouting it. We're not whispering, we’re shouting loud and proud. You're OK the way you are! Come on! Feel safe about who you are, where you are. In life. In love. In family. We’re shouting it.” 

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder starts streaming Feb. 23 on Disney+.