Donnie Johnson in his uniform. (Courtesy Photo)

Donnie Johnson, 63, is a proud journeyman carpenter, currently working on site of the construction of a coming attraction in Los Angeles.

“Nobody’s seen this place yet, but I get to see it every single day,” said Johnson. “I’m putting in the seats man!

“I’m putting in 18,000 seats, we’re going to put in maybe 1,900 so far.”

He speaks highly of his job, the men he works with and the personal journey, he himself has taken to get to where he is right now.

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His story begins in Pasadena, California, where he was born in 1960.

“I went to elementary, junior high, [and] high school there,” said Johnson. “My high school was John Muir High. I graduated in 1978.”

Johnson excelled in football and went on to attend Long Beach City College, where he continued to play football.

“The first year I was there, they didn’t play me so, then the next year, by the third game of the season, I hadn’t played, so I just registered that year and came to Pasadena City College.

“I came back to Pasadena, played football there.”

He got a scholarship to go to Cal Poly Pomona, but shared he didn’t get his degree. Johnson continued playing football and tried to play in the United States Football League for over two years.

“I didn’t make that thing, so I started working,” said Johnson.

He worked various jobs like with UPS, network marketing businesses and other endeavors. He eventually ended up at Paramount Pictures.

“I was giving tours as a page, they were saying, ‘Yeah man, if you ever want to get a job with one of these actors, superstars, you got to know, people are always watching, you got be careful of what you say, you got to be friends with their assistants.’

“I went to the mailroom and then I started go to Eddie Murphy’s office.”

When a job became available, Johnson got a job working with Murphy as his assistant.

“I worked with Eddie for 12 years, from 1992 to 2003,” said Johnson. “It was gratifying because I got to go around the world. He was the #1 box office star in the world at the peak. I did maybe 20 movies with Eddie. I did that for 12 years.”

Johnson also shared that life got the best of him and he made some bad choices.

“I started messing around with foolish things, man, and that was taking up all my time,” said Johnson. “And I lost my way.”

Johnson holds one of his books, “You: Mastering The 11 Tenets For Success.” (Courtesy Photo)

He eventually got his head together and turned a negative into a positive. He authored two books, “Hollywood Assistant” and then wrote a second book, “You: Mastering The 11 Tenets For Success.” Then, he became a pastor.

“I didn’t want to become a pastor, but I was just so diligent, and every time [Bishop] asked me to speak, I was pretty eloquent in my speaking and people were responding really well and they always gave me assignments like that,” said Johnson.

He continued, “I started cleaning the church, then they made me a deacon, a minister. It was over a nine-year period of time, I just showed my consistency, my love for God and sharing the word and cleaning the church being there Wednesday, Sunday, Saturday and that’s why they made me a pastor.”

He went Unity University Bible College in Pasadena and received his AA degree in pastoral studies and was later ordained as a pastor by the bishop at his church. Johnson’s church is no longer in existence, but every now and then, he shared that he goes to different churches to speak.

It was until he was in his 50s that Johnson would find what he had been looking for and it all started with a prayer.

“I was 55-years-old and I didn’t have anything else to make any serious money and all the other stuff I tried wasn’t quite working and taking a chance on this and selling that wasn’t working,” said Johnson.

“I said God, you get me out of this one and I’ll get up every day at 4:00AM and go to work and stack my money—and He did and I’ve been doing this for nine years.

“I finally got my life back together and I got into this construction thing.”

In the carpentry trade, there are many opportunities that include drywall, interior, concrete, finished work and tile just to name a few. Johnson specializes in concrete formwork and is currently working with a construction company building the Intuit Dome, soon to be home of the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s been putting in the seats…

“18,000 seats to be exact, I’m in the Intuit Dome, the greatest basketball arena the world’s ever seen,” said Johnson.

Johnson shared at first, it was about the money, but then, he began to develop strong relationships with his coworkers and other men within the carpentry union.

“When a man tells you he’s going to be there at 3PM, he’s going to be there at 3PM. Whatever that man says he’s going to do, he’s going to do and these dudes always do what they say and I’m impressed by that,” said Johnson.

Johnson shared some advice about finding your way in life by asking oneself some simple questions.

“What do you enjoy doing, what would you do right now for free every day? Find something that you like and get paid for that.

“What would you like to do to get that? Can you do something about that next week?

“And then I would ask have you ever thought about a trade?”

Johnson, 63, former assistant to a Hollywood superstar, lost his way for a moment, experiencing struggles only to end up right where he needed to be. The pastor, motivational speaker, author, and devoted father to 3 didn’t fold it in, but kept on going.

“If you don’t do nothing about it, you’re just talking about it,” said Johnson. “It ain’t going to manifest like that, you got to put some action in.”

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