Aired on Lifetime Feb. 28. Filmed in Detroit, starring Rosie O’Donnell, and Detroit's own....Philip Johnson, actor
A storybook tale both on and off screen as Cass Tech H.S. student Philip Johnson has given Michigan its own Schwab’s Drug Store moment. Philip was literally discovered by producer and star Rosie O’Donnell, eating dinner with family at Small Plates Restaurant in Downtown Detroit.
The Lifetime movie AMERICA was scheduled to start shooting in literally days, as Rosie introduced herself to Philip, after observing demeanor and body language in him that was integral to the film’s lead character. If they had not cast the role in time, the movie probably would not have been made.
A 3.5 GPA student, Philip appeared in Beverly Hills, Calif. for a panel event promoting the film at the famed William S. Paley Center, and received a proclamation from Detroit Mayor Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. Throughout the rollercoaster of events, Philip is, as his father described him following his final grueling audition, “the happiest I’ve ever seen him.” The story’s icing on the cake is that Philip’s brother and two sisters also earned roles in the film.