Texas teen actress, Trinity Johnston, loves to act – whether on stage before a live audience or on a set before a camera. To her, acting is like second nature because it comes easy. Already this Austin teen is way ahead in her pursuit of having a successful acting career. Trinity has appeared in 18 short films and numerous theater productions around Austin. She’s constantly creating content for her social media and for YouTube, with her popular TV series “Austin High.” Her ultimate dream is film school and a career in the industry to follow. Her passion for musical theater, TV and film has earned Trinity a “Best Actress Award” through the Austin 48hr Film Project and “Best Young Adult Actress Award” from Broadway World Austin for her role as Mary Lennox in “The Secret Garden.” We chatted with Trinity recently about her acting pursuits.
She Began at Five
Rising teen actress, Austinite Trinity Johnston, found acting easy and began her career at an early age. “My mom put me in a summer acting camp when I was five years old and I got the role of Ms. Hannigan in the musical Annie. I loved it because I made new friends with the cast, I was able to use my imagination and become someone I’m not, and I liked having an audience be entertained by me. I also found out I could memorize lines easily. I asked to keep doing acting camps, and in first grade I got the role of Annie in a local theater semester program. My music teacher at school asked me to perform a song from the show for the entire school and parents. I was so nervous, but it was exhilarating, and it felt great to perform.”
A Theatrical Flair
Performing on stage brought Trinity special recognition to her unique talent. “I started in theater and love singing and performing for a live audience. When I was eight, I got the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland at ZACH theater which is a professional theater in Austin. That was huge for me, especially because I had to leave my public school and move to online school. I rehearsed for a month and then performed in six shows a week for three months. I was away from all my friends and other activities, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned how to interact with adults and matured a lot during the process. Plus, my character was so much fun to play because Alice was sassy and got to throw several temper tantrums. I earned a ‘Top 3 Persons to Watch’ Award from Broadway World Austin for the role of Alice. That led to my next role – playing Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden where I earned a ‘Best Young Adult Actress’ Award from Broadway World Austin. I enjoyed that my character had a British accent and since Mary was incredibly feisty, she got to talk back to the adults. I loved playing to a live audience and seeing their reactions, but acting with a camera was enticing to me, and I wanted to focus on that a little more.”
Trinity gained acting experience by participating in short films. “My first short film was for the Austin 48hr Film Project when I was nine years old. It was right after I finished Alice in Wonderland. It was a crazy experience because the film had to be written, filmed and edited within a 48-hour period…so we had to move fast. I was the lead in this fantasy genre and worked with a horse and had to sing. My horse ended up dying at the end so I had a very dramatic scene in the horse’s stall singing a song while crying. Little did I know I’d receive the ‘Best Actress Award’ for that role, which was an incredible honor.
“In total I’ve filmed 18 shorts. My most recent film, called My Soul to Keep, I also helped produce. It’s a psychological thriller and a role that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was a good thing. I had to go to some dark places, so focus during filming was the key. My director made sure I stayed to myself on set and really helped me dive deep with my scenes. We screened the film at Alamo Drafthouse to 200 people and submitted it to festivals. You can now watch it on my YouTube channel.”
A Pandemic Surprise
Trinity and her mom, Kelly, created a popular streaming series called Austin High on YouTube during the Covid-19 pandemic. “When I was younger, I was on a popular YouTube channel called New Sky Kids. After three years filming with them, I grew out of the roles and decided to start my own YouTube channel with other tween/teen actors in Austin. My mom and I held auditions and created my YouTube group called the ATXcrew, and we began filming in January 2020. We started out filming silly challenge and prank videos…primarily finding fun ways to hang out during the pandemic.
“I also made Austin Vlogs showing off different places around the city. I went to Lake Austin and learned how to wakeboard, walked around South Congress, went on a camping trip nearby, and I even made a Vlog of the scary winter storm of 2021. After a year and a half, my mom and I decided to make a shift and create scripted content. My mom was an English teacher and likes to write and we had eight actors on the ATXcrew, so why not?
“Since Austin has become so trendy and we were all in high school, we decided to set the scene in Austin and call our series Austin High. My character, Aria, is the mayor’s daughter and she is used to getting what she wants. But when she is challenged by her new English teacher, she quickly learns that high school is much harder to conquer by herself. Aria must become open to making new friends, especially those who are quite different from her usual popular group. We doubled our cast and crew in Season 2. It was amazing filming in a real school with a huge crew. We were hoping we’d get a lot more eyes on the show, which we did. And something also very cool happened, I received an award for my role as Aria from the ‘Young Artist Academy for Best Leading Performance in a Streaming Series.’ That meant a lot to me since the whole idea started with me and my mom.”
Trinity’s goal is to act for both TV and film. “I’m happiest on a set, so I’m not picky if it’s a TV series or a feature film. My favorite type of role is a dramatic one because I absolutely love digging deep and pushing myself to the core. But drama is exhausting and I also enjoy being able to laugh and play with my scene partners. If the role is super heavy, I usually keep away from the cast and crew so I can stay focused. If the role is a comedy or light, I can hang out more and joke with everyone, and that’s fun.
“I’m excited about the future because, besides working on Austin High, I have been back at University of Texas filming scenes and shorts for their film students.I have also auditioned for multiple upcoming series and feature films. I have a great team around me who love and support me so I will keep doing what I’m doing…living my passion!”
Cover Photo Ruben Caballero
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas