Things you didn't know about EJ Johnson

You've probably heard his name floating around the internet at some point over the last few years, but what's the real deal with EJ Johnson? Get to know this rising star of reality television who's serving up a whole lot of fashion—and drama—on E!'s Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and his recent spin-off, EJNYC.

He's the son of Magic Johnson

EJ Johnson is the son of NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Perhaps unsurprisingly, growing up with such a famous father has made EJ a natural in front of the camera. "Obviously, my family's always been in the spotlight," he told Out magazine in 2014. "I've always loved being in front of people, being on stage and performing. I love the attention. I love everything about it."

EJ, who turned 24 in June 2016, is Magic and wife Earlitha "Cookie" Johnson's only biological child. They adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995. EJ is named after his father—the initials are short for Earvin Johnson III.

He publicly came out as gay in 2013

In 2013, EJ Johnson came out publicly as gay after TMZ posted a video of him holding hands with his best friend, Alessandro Monetti, whom TMZ claimed at the time was actually his boyfriend.

Despite the aggressive outing by TMZ, the 20-year-old took the experience in stride. "I always wanted to come into the spotlight," he told the YouTube talk show Gwissues (via ESPN) in 2013. "I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image, so it came a little sooner than I thought it would but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience."

Johnson said the reaction to his sexuality varied from positive to extremely harsh. Of his critics, he said, "It's almost like they're attacking me for being me and so to that I can only say, 'Well, I can only be myself, so I don't know really what you want me to do."

His family was incredibly supportive

When TMZ's story broke, Magic issued a statement to the tabloid site, saying, "Cookie and I love EJ and support him in every way. We're very proud of him."

His parents positivity underscored comments EJ made later to Gwissues (via ESPN) about how helpful his family has been during his coming-out process. "I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do," Johnson said. "My parents have always been super supportive. My sister and I have always been really close and she's been really supportive as with my brother. When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess."

Johnson said he came out to his mother around age 13 or 14. "I told her how I was feeling and she obviously told me that she had known and always would love me anyway. The same thing happened with my dad like a year or so later. Everyone has to get used to it. No parent is prepared 100 percent and fully for something like that. We all had to work and move forward."

He considered transitioning

On a recent episode of EJNYC, EJ admitted to a therapist that he considered transitioning into a woman after Caitlyn Jenner made her debut in 2015.

"I've always been very fashion-forward," he said (via US Weekly). "I've always definitely mixed men's and women's fashion in my life, but I never thought that it would raise so many questions about my own gender. I never really thought it was under investigation. Sometimes it's hard being in the middle, kind of in the gray area in my own lane. Now, since everybody's talking about Caitlyn Jenner and being transgender, people are so quick to say, 'Oh, just because you're dressing like that means that you're going to transition to become a woman.'"

"I thought about it, for sure," he said. "I was just like, 'Well, do I want to transition? Is this something that I would do?' But I don't feel incomplete in that way. I don't feel the need to do that."

According to US Weekly, fans questioned if EJ was thinking about transitioning after he wore the same dress as Kim Kardashian to a wedding in May 2016.

He lost nearly 200 pounds

According to E! News, Johnson—who once weighed about 360 pounds—underwent gastric sleeve surgery in early 2015. He revealed on the season finale of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills that he's lost about 180 pounds since the procedure. "The surgery was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me," he said. "I never thought that I'd look this good, and that is the God's honest truth."

"It's a totally new mindset," Johnson told Page Six. "I'm completely dedicated to living a new, healthy lifestyle." Johnson also discussed his new diet regimen. "I really think it's important that you not listen to so many fads; you really need to find what works for you," he said. "But that doesn't mean you're done after that because you don't like what's hot. You need to get creative."

He went to NYU

According to the Associated Press, Johnson attended New York University, majoring in "event management and design with an interest in fashion, journalism and media." As a junior at NYU, he was cast in a supporting role for the first season of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. He was promoted to main-character status for the show's second season, according to the The Daily Beast.  An interview on New York's local Fox affiliate in May 2015 confirmed he was graduating soon.

He loves opera

Speaking to Out in 2014, Johnson confessed he totally has a thing for listening to opera. "I don't even have to understand what they're saying…you just feel it," he said. "I'm just like, 'I don't know what you're talking about but, like, I can feel that somebody hurt you, child. Somebody f***** you over. But I can hear you girl—you sing. Sing, honey! Do it. Sing about it."

He's a member of the Beyhive

Johnson considers himself a full-time member of Beyonce's fan group, The Beyhive. "I am obsessed with Beyoncé," he told Out. "If I had a talk show, I'd go take a dance class with Beyoncé, sit on stage with her, learn her process. I met her a couple of times. She's very composed and calm, sweet and demure as a person. But when she gets on stage she's sexy and dynamic and on fire!"

Now, that's something we'd watch on TV.

He appeared on 'E! News' and 'Fashion Police'

Almost instantly after TMZ published their video that "outed" him, Johnson became a viral sensation. Iterations of the headline, 'Basketball Legend Magic Johnson's Son Comes Out As Gay' were splashed all over the headlines of mainstream outlets like "CNN, MSNBC, the Today show and Good Morning America," according to The Daily Beast. But instead of shrinking away from the attention, Johnson stepped eagerly into the spotlight and took full advantage of his newfound fame.

After a successful first season on Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, Johnson parlayed his breakout status into not only a renewed contract for the second season, but also an overall deal with E! that included stints on two of the networks other properties. He joined E! News as a special correspondent for red carpet events, as well as Fashion Police, a show he was tailor-made for with his one-of-a-kind style and signature zingers like "I was born wearing a tiara," and "If you have an extra bible on hand, I'll take that, 'cause I will need Jesus to get through this."

He got his own reality show now called 'EJNYC'

After completing four seasons on Rich Kids of Beverly Hills as well as proving himself elsewhere on the network, E! gave Johnson his own spinoff show, called EJNYC. Originally titled EJ and the City, the show follows Johnson, his little sister, Elisa, and their high-class crew as they life the fabulous life in the big city.

Some memorable clips from the show include the time when EJ revealed that he had previously hooked up with a dude Elisa was dating. "I was told not to say anything about him kissing me, but he did, it happened," EJ said, according to The Daily Mail. "The man that led me on is now hooking up with my sister, and I'm supposed to be OK with it," he continued. Awkward. Then there was the time they took the show on the road to Lansing, MI, where Magic Johnson grew up, and EJ got hit on by a drunk chick at a college bar. "I was trying to have a casual conversation with her, and she started touching me in weird places," he says, uncomfortably describing the encounter.

According to a BET interview, the show, which may or may not return for a second season, is "not completely ratchet with hair pulling and fighting," but let's be honest, it's not exactly Masterpiece Theater, either.

He wants to be a role model

Although Johnson is all about superficial fashion and bling, he's also aware that as a public figure who is a member of two minority groups, he knows there's a certain responsibility there. When talking about his role as the Celebrity Grand Marshall of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, Johnson said, "We represent our community very well. Whether it's the African-American community, or in my case, the gay community, it's important to make sure that we represent those communities in a positive way." And he recognizes how lucky he his to be able to live freely as "a young Black man in the public eye who plays with gender norms," as BET put it. "I'm fortunate that I'm in a world where I can do what I want to do and walk down the street in whatever I want to wear and break those walls down," he said.

Johnson also has solid advice for any closeted young people out there who might be looking to his lifestyle as a road map for their own. "I say dance around in your closet when no one is looking until the time is right. Try your hardest to work towards getting to a place within yourself or the country where you can go and express yourself and come back and tell your story. I think that if getting out is really the only way to be able to live your life then that's something to think about. And not like running away without anything, but if you can go to school somewhere else or live with somebody else, maybe think about that, but also just make sure you're safe. That's something my dad always told me: Make sure you check your surroundings and be you, do you, but make sure you're not putting yourself in dangerous situations where you could get hurt."

He says he hasn't been affected much by racism

In that same BET interview, Johnson admits that racism hasn't really been a problem in his life. "Yeah, racism, not so much. We've come across little random tidbits maybe, obviously when I'm in different parts of the world and other countries, things are different because they don't see Black people, as in African-Americans, doing what we do because in some of those other countries that I've visited there are a lot of Africans, or people from different parts of the world, who really don't have what we have in this country, which is so amazing. Here [U.S.] I do not experience that much racism, I feel like that's probably more prevalent before I was born," he said.

It was a slightly tone-deaf remark for the otherwise media savvy fashionista to make, especially in light of the fact that he was so outspoken on the whole Donald Sterling controversy in which own father got inadvertently wrapped up in. For those who forget, during a bizarre interview with Anderson Cooper, Sterling questioned what the elder Johnson had done for the black community, and repeatedly suggested how ashamed of himself Johnson should have been after contracting HIV.

"We were just so astonished at the things he was saying, and not just that he brought my dad into it, but the fact that he was being just blatantly racist. It was kind of like an 'aha moment,' the realization that people like that still exist," EJ told The Daily Beast of his take on the interview. He then defended his dad, but also added, "Obviously, we all say things that we regret and we can definitely get caught off guard, especially in the privacy of our own home, so there's a little bit of that. But at the same time, the things you say at home are probably a lot of things that you feel personally, which would really make you a racist in retrospect. He's a walking joke."

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