14-year-old Aaron Johnson is being honored this week for the Community Choice Youth Award at the McDonald’s 365Black Awards, an event annually held during the Essence Festival that recognizes Black excellence.
The Miami, Florida native became an entrepreneur at just nine years old when he discovered Windows Movie Maker on his family’s laptop. He used the program to create a commercial for his parents’ church. Three years later, he launched his production company, Aaron Johnson Productions, which consists of film, graphic design, web design and promotional work for churches and businesses.
Johnson earned the ?Widescreen Film & Music Festival? award this year for his short-film, ?Lost,? and was honored by the Mayor of Miami Gardens, Oliver Gilbert, for his service in the community and being a role model for youth.
?There definitely should be more young entrepreneurs because the young people I come across have fantastic ideas,? says Johnson, who is also a motivational speaker. ?And I suggest to them to start their own business, but most of them tell me they’re scared to fail.?
Johnson admits he’s been discouraged at times, especially at one point for a year when he wasn’t getting any clients. But he attributes his motivation to his strong faith in God.
?I had to learn that in terms of the life I want to live, I can either make it happen or just make it an ordinary life. But I told my parents I don’t want to live an ordinary life. I want to live an extraordinary life,? he says.
Johnson is enrolled in a virtual school program, a process that he says is convenient for running his production company.
Tyler Perry and Will Packer [Takers, Think Like a Man, and Ride Along] are the teen’s influences for filmmaking. Johnson, who describes his short films as ?family friendly,? usually produces them within two to three days. He is currently working on a film called ?Blackout,? which is due out later this year.
?’Blackout,’ is a psychological thriller about a couple going through issues in their relationships, and they realize they’re not in love with the person they’re with,? he details. Johnson admits the film is inspired by the trailer to Packer’s produced ?No Good Deed? (2014) which starred Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba. ?I watched it and said ‘wait a minute, let me go write.’?
Johnson has also written books, including ?You Are Never Too Young? (2014) and this year’s ?Winning Mind Battles,? both of which he promoted on his recent book tour, ?You Are Never Too Young.?
When he’s not busy with school and/or his projects, the Miami native is also involved with the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Before becoming one of the organization’s youth ambassadors, Johnson was a volunteer.
?My dad used to drop Trayvon’s sister to and from school. It was a like a year before I started volunteering at their foundation as a host. I can’t express how grateful I am to be volunteering at their foundation,? he says.
Johnson plans to continue his social activism and expand his business. He is currently representing the music career of his big brother, Dontrell.
As for career advice, Johnson wastes no time telling TNJ.com that his fellow rising entrepreneurs should remain focused.
?With me being a young entrepreneur, I know I have struggles, especially when I know there’s a lot of adults in this field,? Johnson remarks. ?It can get discouraging at times, but it all starts with you. Keep on going. Fulfill your dreams and don’t stop.?