Breaking into show business at age 2 as a clothing model, Ashley Johnson has since emerged as one of the more prolific young actresses in Hollywood with over sixty projects under her belt. She is probably best remembered as the attractive and troublesome Chrissy Seaver on the ABC hit sitcom “Growing Pains,” a role she played from age 7 to 9. Johnson, who later recreated the role in the TV movies “The Growing Pains Movie” (2000), and “Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers” (2004), received three Young Artist nominations for her work on the series. Her subsequent TV series, “Phenom” (ABC, 1993-1994), where she played little sister Mary Margaret, won the former Miss Jr. Michigan a Young Artist Award. Johnson also collected Young Artist and/or YoungStar nominations for the series “All-American Girl” (1994), “Maybe This Time” (1995), “Moloney” (1997) and the made-for-TV film “Annie: A Royal Adventure!” (1995). The blue-eyed, blonde-haired actress has made guest appearances in a number of television series, including “ER,” “Providence,” “Ally McBeal,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Roswell,” “Monk,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Dirt,” and has voiced such characters as Gretchen in the TV series “Recess” (1997-2000, earned two Young Artist nominations), Jinmay in “Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!” (2004-2005) and Gwen Tennyson on the animated series “Ben 10: Alien Force” (2008).
As a film actress, Johnson took home a Young Artist nomination for her role as Mel Gibson's daughter in Nancy Myers' comedy, “What Women Want” (2000). The 26-year-old actress has also worked with various actors like Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Lionheart”), Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore (“Nine Months”), Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman (“Anywhere But Here”), Rick Johnson (“Rustin”), Isabella Rossellini (“King of the Corner”), Gregory Smith and Jordana Brewster (“Nearing Grace”), Greg Kinnear (“Fast Food Nation”), Will Arnett (“The Brothers Solomon”) and Val Kilmer (“Columbus Day”), among others.
Johnson's sister, actress/musician Haylie Johnson, is married to accomplished blues musician Johnny Lang. Her brother Chris works on the successful CBS series “The District” (2000). Johnson, who now resides in Los Angeles, likes to snowboard and surf. She is a passionate gun shooter. Along with her friend, production assistant Mila Shah, she co-operates a photography company called Infinity Pictures.
Childhood and Family:
Ashley Suzanne Johnson was born on August 9, 1983, in Camarillo, California, to independent film producer Nancy Johnson (born in 1952) and Clifford Johnson (born in 1948, died in July 2000 of lung and liver cancer). Her family relocated to Michigan when she was young. Ashley has an older brother named Christopher Johnson (born in May 1977) and an older sister named Haylie Johnson (born on January 29, 1980). Both Ashley and her sister formerly held the title of Miss Jr. Michigan.
Ashley, nicknamed Dasher, graduated high school when she was 15 years old.
Coming from a musical family, Ashley was the granddaughter of popular concert pianist Evelyn Taft. She studies piano and violin at the International School of Music. In addition to these two instruments, she also plays the guitar, drums, the cello and harmonica.
Ashley Johnson entered the entertainment industry at age 2 as a clothing model. Gigs in local and national commercials soon followed. When she was five years old, Johnson charmed the judges at a Universal Studios beauty pageant with her performance of “Broadway Baby” and ended up winning the talent contest. She went on to show off her singing ability on the TV show “Star Search.”
Johnson, who once played a lost boy in a production of “Peter Pan,” made an auspicious TV acting debut with her regular role on the hit ABC sitcom “Growing Pains” (1985-1992), which launched the career of Kirk Cameron. She played Chrissy Seaver from 1990 to 1992 and was nominated for three Young Artist Awards in the categories of Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Nine, Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Ten, and Outstanding Actress Under Ten in a Television Series for her work in the series.
In 1991, Johnson made the jump to the big screen with the supporting role of Nicole Gaultier on the movie “Lionheart,” opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme. She followed it up two years later with a small role in her TV movie debut, “Men Don't Tell” (1993), starring Golden Globe nominee Peter Strauss. Also that same year, she appeared as a blind girl in the based-on-book television movie “In the Shadows, Someone's Watching” and returned to series TV as a regular on the acclaimed, but short-lived, comedy “Phenom,” which ran on ABC from 1993 to 1994. Playing Mary Margaret Doolan, she was handed a 1994 Young Artist for Best Actress Under Ten in a Television Series or Show.
After the demise of “Phenom,” Johnson was cast as Casey Emmerson on the ABC sitcom “All-American Girl” (1994). The role brought her a 1995 Young Artist nomination for Best Performance: Young Actress in a TV Comedy Series. She then appeared as Lisa in an episode of “Roseanne” called “The Blaming of the Shrew,” and starred as Annie in the TV movie “Annie: A Royal Adventure” (1995), which was a sequel to the big budget 1982 movie “Annie,” which was directed by John Huston. Under the direction of Ian Toynton, Johnson picked up a Youngstar nomination for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Made For TV Movie and a Young Artist nomination for Best Performance by a Young Actress - TV Comedy Series. She gained additional success on the wide screen when she landed the significant role of Shannon Dwyer in the comedy “Nine Months” (1995), which starred Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum and Robin Williams.
However, Johnson did not revisit series TV until she was cast as Grace 'Gracie' Wallace in the short-lived sitcom “Maybe This Time,” which debuted on ABC on September 15, 1995. She was nominated for a 1996 Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress - TV Comedy Series. The next year, she appeared on the TV series version “Jumanji,” which was based on the 1995 blockbuster hit movie of the same name.
Johnson played Katherine 'Kate' Moloney on the drama series “Moloney” (1997), which reunited her with “Men Don't Tell” star Peter Strauss. The role won her a 1997 YoungStar Award nomination in the category of Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama TV Series. The same year, she also began her voice role as Gretchen for the Disney cartoon series “Recess,” a gig she would keep until 2000, and made a guest appearance on the hit sitcom “Wings,” starring Tim Daly, Steven Weber and Crystal Bernard. For her work in “Recess,” Johnson collected two young Artist nominations. In 1998, Johnson played the daughter of Shelley Long in The WB's comedy “Kelly, Kelly,” appeared in two episodes of the NBC popular medical series “ER,” and costarred with Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills and Ethan Embry in the award-winning comedy movie “Dancer, Texas Pop 81,” which was directed and written by Tim McCanlies. She closed up the decade with an appearance in the Wayne Wang-directed comedy “Anywhere But Here” (1999), which featured fabulous performances from Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman,
Entering the new millennium, Johnson was reunited with “Growing Paints” costars Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold and Jeremy Miller for the TV film reunion “The Growing Pains Movie” (2000) and portrayed Alex Marshall, the daughter of Mel Gibson, on the Gibson/Helen Hunt comedy vehicle “What Women Want” (2000). She nabbed a Young Artist nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress for her work in the latter movie. The following year found Johnson reprising her voice role of Gretchen Grundler for the movie version “Recess: School's Out” and the direct-to-video-release “Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street,” and costarring with Rick Johnson and Meat Loaf in the Method Fest Audience Award-winner “Rustin.” Johnson could also be seen in episodes of “Roswell” (2002, as Eileen Burrows), “Ally McBeal” (2002, as Serena Feldman), “Touched by an Angel” (as Natalie, 2002), “The Guardian” (as Betsy Fortunato, 2002) and “Married to the Kellys” (as Shari, 2003-2004). She also portrayed Daphne Wallace in three episodes of the NBC series “Providence” (2002). In 2004, Johnson starred as Lilly Kyle in the Tim Hunter low-budget romance “The Failures,” supported William Lee Scott and Lucas Black in the music oriented drama “Killer Diller,” which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2004, and was featured alongside Peter Riegert and Isabella Rossellini in Riegert's comedy, “King of the Corner.” Still that same year, she again returned to her role of Chrissy Seaver on the television movie “Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers” and voiced Jinmay on the Walt Disney TV-produced cartoon series “Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go,” a role she held until the next year, and Terra on the WB animated series “Teen Titan.” She then voiced Emily on “King of the Hill” (2 episodes, 2004-2005) and Gretchen Grundler on “Lilo & Stitch: The Series” (2006).
The busy actress resumed her film career with roles in the 2005 family drama “Nearing Grace,” opposite Gregory Smith and Jordana Brewster, the 2006 comedy “Grad Night,” for director Michael T. Fitzgerald Jr., and the 2006 Richard Linklater ensemble drama “Fast Food Nation,” along with Greg Kinnear and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Her more recent movie credits include “The Brothers Solomon” (2007), starring Will Arnett and Will Forte in the title roles, and Charles Burmeister's “Columbus Day” (2008), starring Val Kilmer.
From 2007-2008, Johnson made guest appearances in such TV series as “Monk,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Heartland,” “The Middleman,” “Raising the Bar” and “The Mentalist.” She portrayed Sharlee Cates in four episodes of the Courteney Cox-led drama series “Dirt” (2008) and starred as Gwen Tennyson on the animated series “Ben 10: Alien Force” (2008).
Young Artist: Best Actress Under Ten in a Television Series or Show, “Phenom,” 1994