HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ABC4 Utah) – One of this fall’s most anticipated new TV series is a spin-off of CW’s “Walker”, “Walker: Independence.” Actor Justin Johns Cortez scored a leading role on the show, playing a character named Calian, a Native-American guide. For Cortez, a Native-American/Latino actor, writer and producer this is a role that he’s excited to bring to life on the small screen for audiences.
WALKER: INDEPENDENCE is a spin-off prequel of the hit CW series WALKER, set to premier on Utah’s CW30 on October 6th at 9 p.m. Set in the late 1800s, WALKER: INDEPENDENCE’S first moments begin with ‘Abby Walker’ (Kate McNamara) being left for dead after her husband is murdered. She survives thanks to the Apache tribe who tend to her injuries and ‘Calian’ (Johnson Cortez), her Native guide who takes her to Independence, and an uncertain future. On her quest for revenge, her path crosses with ‘Hoyt Rawlins’ (Matt Barr) which ultimately leads to an entangled relationship for the three characters. Johnson Cortez takes on this role with the weight of his ancestors on his shoulders; a Native Yaqui, he learned to speak Apache through an Apache translator on set. He also did the majority of his own stunts including some impressive ones on horseback.
Born and raised in Santa Paula, CA – just outside of rustic Ojai – Johnson Cortez still lives in the rural house he grew up in. As a youth he loved and excelled in anything athletic from skateboarding, surfboarding, snowboarding, football, baseball to riding dirt bikes and motorcycles. It wasn’t until his mid-20s that he began showing an interest in acting and began taking classes which ultimately lead to getting signed with a manager and agent. Around this time, he also began writing as well as he didn’t see roles that featured characters like him. Half Native Yaqui and Latino on his mother side, he was disappointed in the lack of representation in film and television. He additionally has another project soon to be announced which highlights the lives of Native people in an honest and impactful way. Cortez has also guest-starred on Fox’s 911: Lone Star and Lucifer. He also served as actor/writer/director/producer in the short film The Fall, which was a 2020 Skins Fest official selection.
A true handyman and artist at heart, Johnson Cortez enjoys using his hands to build custom furniture (his whole home is filled with his craftsmanship), riding his motorcycles, painting and doing art / stencil work out of wood blocks, and spending time with his wife Rachel and two daughters Olivia and Evelyn.