Who Do I Think I Am?

Stories of Chola Wishes and Caviar Dreams

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By Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

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This hilarious and thoughtful memoir from comedy legend Anjelah Johnson-Reyes explores questions of identity, belonging, and her two dreams as a kid: to be an actress and to be a chola.

You may know Anjelah Johnson-Reyes for her viral sketch "Nail Salon" (over 100 million views globally) or her beloved MadTV character Bon Qui Qui, but it's her clean humor and hilarious storytelling that make her one of the most successful stand-up comedians and actresses today. 

With her razor-sharp wit, Anjelah recounts funny stories from her journey—from growing up caught between two worlds (do chips and salsa go with potato salad?) to unexpectedly embracing faith (“I love Jesus, but I will punch a ‘ho”) to her many adventures in dating (she may or may not have accepted dates simply for the food). Through it all, Anjelah transforms from a suburban-adjacent kid with Aquanet-drenched hair into a devoted Christian who abstains from drinking and premarital sex, into a mall-famous Oakland Raiders cheerleader, and then an actually famous comedian traveling the world and meeting people from all-walks of life, including Oprah. No biggie. (Huge biggie.) As she travels the world, Anjelah has eye-opening experiences, and she morphs from square, rigid Anjelah into “Funjelah,” and learns that she can still ride with Jesus without squashing the other parts of her personality.

Anjelah's stories explore subjects such as navigating your racial identity, finding your place in the world, chasing your crazy dreams, embracing the messiness of an evolving faith, and searching for belonging and meaning. Through her journey, Anjelah gets closer to discovering her true identity and encourages readers to have the audacity to dream big.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Chola Wishes & Caviar Dreams

In third grade I got an assignment to write one of those “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” kind of reports. I decided to do mine on becoming a lawyer, which looking back, was very off-brand for me. I hadn’t even seen an episode (or every episode multiple times) of Law & Order: SVU. But at the time, I guess I thought it was fancy and paid the bills.

To write about being a lawyer, I felt like I had to play the part. I lived next door to my elementary school and dug through the dumpster outside looking for trashy lawyer treasures thrown away alongside half-eaten bologna sandwiches. I scored some books, binders, broken calculators, and a big telephone with a ton of buttons. I was the Harriet the Spy of law. In my bedroom, I pushed my dresser up to the window, because big shots always had a view of the city, even though in my case, it was a view of the San Jose International Airport. I put the phone and my “law books” on the desk, sat down, and threw myself into my work. I furiously wrote memos with a red pen, because only adults had red pens. I rifled through important documents and answered a barrage of urgent phone calls, one after the other.

“I know, I know, I’m working on it!” I shouted into the receiver before slamming it down and whispering to no one, “Dammit, Cheryl.”

I sighed dramatically and ran my hands through my hair, a universal sign of being extremely stressed out… at least that’s what they did in the movies. My firm was so busy and successful, but I managed to make the time to turn the window into a drive-thru for legal advice and cheeseburgers—the two professions that meant the most to me, apparently. Between calls, I turned to the pane and said, “Hi, how can I help you today? And do you want fries with that lawsuit?”

Thanks to my in-depth research, I got an A on my paper. But in doing the assignment I discovered—hold all my calls, please—I actually did not want to be a lawyer. I wanted to pretend to be a lawyer. I shall be an actress.

From that moment on, my dream of being an actress started to grow. At first, I didn’t say it out loud because I was ashamed. I lived in San Jose. What actresses had I ever heard of from San Jose? Screech from Saved by the Bell was born in my hometown, but that didn’t matter, because I didn’t even know about him until I just googled it. I didn’t see actors around town either. It’s not like I’d ever run into Meryl Streep at Casa Vicky Mexican restaurant. But I was gonna be a dramatic actress like Meryl. I practiced making myself cry without the use of Visine, chopped onions, or whatever the ’90s equivalent of Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercials was.

I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley during the tech boom. While I had no interest in becoming the next Steve Jobs, my dream to be an actress felt just as far-fetched—a fantasy, really. I might as well have said, “I want to be a princess!” The audacity. Who the heck did I think I was—this little Mexican American girl, who’d never acted in her life—to think that I, of all people, could make it in Hollywood? There was zero evidence I could. Back when I was a kid, there weren’t many proud, educated, normal, hardworking Latino families on TV or in the movies to help point me in the right direction. There were no Latino Cosbys. No Cosbys-ez.

My favorite actress growing up was Sandra Bullock. She had darker features and long brown hair, like me. She didn’t really look like a white girl, so in my mind, that was close enough for me to adopt her as my representation. After Speed came out on VHS, I watched it every day for months. I idolized her, or as the kids say today, I stanned her so hard. That’s still a thing they say, right? Anyway, Sandy, if I may call her that, was beautiful and funny and charming. She could shoot somebody and make them laugh. When Miss Congeniality came out, that was it. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s me. I want to do this. I can do this. I’m so good at being congenial.”

On one hand, it seemed impossible and silly. On the other, I had this nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. I’d get mad at the movies because I wasn’t in them. I was obsessed with anyone who looked like me who made it in Hollywood. Especially the cholas from any movie or TV show about gangs. To some people the movie Training Day was a film that showed corruption and violence, to me it was my dream come true! I remember watching Blood In Blood Out, and like most cholas/aspiring cholas, I swooned over Benjamin Bratt’s dreamy Paco (that was his character’s name; get your mind out of the gutter), but I was more focused on all the chola extras in the background. I was all, “Vatos locos forever” but I was also like, “Pfft, I could stand by that car!” I knew if somebody taught me how to get in a movie, I could do that. I just didn’t know how to do it or where the car was parked to even stand near it. So I tucked the dream away in my heart.

I didn’t try out for school plays, and I didn’t realize I could sing until I got older. My sister, Veronica, sang the national anthem at local events, but I was way too shy for that stuff when I was younger. I was introverted and I was a homebody—so much so that I got special permission to run home from school during the lunch break. It was my ideal scenario—my grandma made me soup and we watched her Mexican game shows. They talked so fast in Spanish, and a bunch of beautiful girls would dance all over the place.

My mom signed me up for all kinds of activities, like tap and acrobatics, but I didn’t last long. She put me in tae kwon do, and I never got past the white belt that came with the uniform. Follow-through was not my strongest trait.

The only activity that ever stuck was cheerleading, and even that had a shaky start. When I was eight, I joined the Santa Clara Lions, a local Pop Warner organization. My sister, Veronica, who is three years older than me, practiced across the field with her team while I would practice with my team, comprised of younger kids. The cheer we had to learn was super simple, like step clap to the left, step clap to the right, keep your arms stiff in a box, and then step clap some more. Yeah. Well. I couldn’t step clap. The stiffness I nailed, though. I was totally off beat and had the coordination of a baby giraffe approximately one second after birth. I felt so dumb. I looked across the field and saw my sister watching me with such disgust. I vividly remember disappointing her because I couldn’t get it right. (Don’t worry, later on, she ends up being my biggest cheerleader in life!)

Somehow I made the squad (everyone did; that’s part of the sign-up fee) and became a Thundercat. In my first year of cheerleading I was so shy and embarrassed, I stared at the ground the whole time and never smiled. By my second year, I broke out of my shell big time and became like the Gabi Butler of the Santa Clara Lions organization, without the blue eyes and zit cream endorsements, although I could have used some of the cream. I worked hard and became the flyer, the girl at the top of the pyramid. I went from hiding in the background to step clapping my way front and center.

I loved the competitiveness of cheerleading. I loved the ritual and pride of putting on our red, black, and white uniforms. Though, back in the day, somebody—probably the same guy who would later invent the thong—decided cheerleading tops should be itchy sweaters. I don’t recommend doing athletic activities while wearing wool in the summer in California. Sweating profusely was worth it because my squads were hella good, and I got to be a part of making us hella good. We usually won first place at competitions (sometimes second place to stupid Oak Grove), and as I graduated from Thundercat to Panther to Wildcat (trust me, that’s impressive), we made it all the way to nationals at Disney World in Florida (also impressive).

I was a cheerleader. That was my identity. I would follow behind my mom’s grocery cart at Safeway practicing my cheers. I lived and breathed and grocery shopped cheerleading. And as every cheerleader knows, once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader—figuratively, anyway. These days, I’d need a chiropractor visit and a long nap if I were to try any pyramid situation.

I learned from a pretty early age that I did not like doing things I wasn’t good at. Which is why this nagging desire to be an actress wouldn’t go away. I really felt like if I tried it, I’d be good at it. Cheerleading officially made me a performer, but I still didn’t dare tell anyone about my secret dream. When I was a teenager, I sat on the carpet in my bedroom in front of a long mirror and imagined I was acting and giving acceptance speeches for my critically acclaimed lead roles. I’d wave to Meryl in the audience, and she’d blow me a kiss with both hands, even though I won the award and she didn’t, which is just so Meryl.

But I learned early on I had this tool inside of me… a sense of humor. And it didn’t take me long to learn how to use it—in a good way, not an evil comic book villain way. I went through my old yearbook recently and all of the messages people wrote were about how “nice” and “funny” I was, which made me want to cry because it confirmed that being kind and funny has always been my thing—except for that one time in sixth grade I was mean to a girl named Natasha for no reason, and I still regret that. I was always quick-witted. It was like a game to me. I’d say a zinger and then someone would laugh. And that was a win for me. And then I’d go, Oh, I got another one! Some girls knew their good angle in a photo. I knew the jokes people responded best to. Charm was my gift, and it gave me confidence. I knew I wasn’t the hottest girl in school (I was medium), but I also knew the hottest girl in school couldn’t make everyone laugh. So, go me.

I learned what worked for me, then used it to my benefit. One of my first jobs was at a theme park, saying funny things on a microphone to guess people’s weight, age, or birthday. I flirted with guys on the microphone as they walked by: “Excuse me, sir. Hop on this scale so I can guess your digits! If I’m wrong, I’ll give you mine. Ayeooo!”

When I was fifteen, I finally felt confident enough to take a jab at being an award-winning actress. I heard a commercial on the radio for an open casting call, one of those ads like, “If you want to be in movies or be a model, come to the Holiday Inn Express on July 8!”

I didn’t think it was creepy at all, which clearly shows my level of commitment. I found myself standing in a hotel ballroom in front of a handsome, yet slightly oily man who looked me up and down before marking YES on my registration card and sending me to the next audition round. You probably had to have three eyes and medical-grade BO to get a NO on your card, but in my mind, I had just gotten a three-picture deal at Paramount. I was so excited and naïve, I didn’t realize they said yes to everyone in order to get more money.

One thousand dollars later, the next step was a trip down to a convention center in Palm Springs to parade myself in front of thirty “talent agencies.” My mom and I drove down to the desert in our station wagon and got to stay in a hotel, which was so fancy. I was told to bring two photos of myself to show the agents, but all I had were some pictures a friend took of me for photography class that weren’t even exposed correctly. The first day, we had to take a bunch of classes. In one, we were taught to walk like a model who was approximately eight feet tall and strutted down the runway with a sensual death stare. In a previous class we’d been told to “smile big and show big energy at all times,” so I was very confused.

“Are we supposed to be serious or smile?” I whispered to my mom. “’Cuz they said to smile, but she’s doing, like, sexy face.”

They’d set up a microphone in the middle of the audience so we could ask questions.

“I don’t know,” my mom whispered back. “Why don’t you ask?”

I got up, walked up to the microphone, and addressed the model.

“Like, you said that we’re supposed to be smiling for the agents. But then when you did the example, you have, like, a real serious face. Like, which one do we do?”

With the nastiest look on her face she hissed, “I didn’t say that,” clearly forgetting that she, in fact, did say that. Okay, girl.

Shut down in front of the entire class, I slunk back to my seat, devastated I might have destroyed my dream of being an actress with one dumb question. Luckily, I had one more shot to make it. The organizers set up a big runway, with “talent agents” sitting all alongside it, though they could have been businessmen looking for the bar, who knows. I got to walk down it, like Gisele before she was Gisele, and show my headshots to all the agents as I walked by. Picture a flight attendant walking down the aisle holding out a tray of Biscoff and Stroopwafels, but all the passengers stare straight ahead or are sleeping. I basically was the flight attendant, and nobody wanted my cookies.

I didn’t get any inquiries or get signed by anybody. It was crushing, humiliating. Getting knocked down like that, I did have the thought, Who do I think I am? At the same time, I still had that burning desire in me to be an actress. The flame had dimmed, but it wasn’t extinguished. So I tried again a couple years later when I was seventeen, this time applying to a child acting school in San Francisco. I made a resume, even though I didn’t even know how to make a resume. I used a bunch of crazy fonts, like Caviar Dreams and DejaVu Sans, and made it purple so it looked pretty.

I was accepted, but on the first day, I was informed that classes cost $1,700, which was $1,700 more than I had, so I quit. Not long after, I got a phone call from the school administrator.

“Are you still interested in joining our program?” the man asked me sweetly.

“No, I’m sorry, it’s way too expensive for me,” I answered sadly.

There was a pause.

“Honey,” he suddenly sneered sassily, “you need us way more than we need you.”

Click. And that was the end of that.

First of all, what did I even say to make him snap? Maybe he had been told no one too many times that day—like the people trying to get you to sign a petition to save the whales while you’re walking into the grocery store. I was rejected again, but I refused to give up. I snail mailed my pretty purple resume to every talent agency on the planet and waited. And waited. In the meantime, I was barely passing high school because I just didn’t care. The future I had in mind didn’t require social studies or math or knowing how to fold notes in cute little shapes. The only reason I bothered to show up at all was cheerleading.

I did have one teacher in particular, Mrs. Zamora, who mentored me. She taught AP art, and even though I couldn’t even draw a stick figure, she let me be her teacher’s assistant because anyone could clean paintbrushes. I would make her laugh while I swept paper clippings. She sent me to other classrooms on secret performance missions. “Go over to Mr. Roark’s class and sing something funny,” she’d say. So I’d burst in and belt out the song “I Will Survive.” In my yearbook, she wrote that she would see me on Saturday Night Live one day. Mrs. Zamora didn’t just think of me as a class clown who was a nuisance. She truly believed I was a performer with real talent that would take me places.

But still, I didn’t tell her or anyone about my dream of making it in showbiz. There was only one person I felt comfortable confessing my biggest secret to. Sandra was a friend of my cousin Michelle who I met before she moved to Hollywood. She moved totally on her own and was making it happen. She’d landed an NSYNC music video and a commercial for Ross. When I reluctantly admitted to her that I’d love to do what she was doing, she didn’t laugh or brush me off. She said seriously, “If you ever move down to LA, I will help you. I will show you how to get started.”

I was barely making it to school, so LA seemed more like a pipe dream than a possibility. By some miracle I graduated and got into junior college. For the next three years, though, I was aimless and didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I enrolled in a drama class at JC, and it was one of the only things I looked forward to. Another student in the class had also ventured off to Hollywood, and like a vet back from ’Nam, regaled us amateurs with cautionary tales and sage advice.

“Don’t be an extra,” she warned.

But what about the cholas I saw in Training Day

“Nobody respects the extras,” she insisted. “You’re the bottom of the totem pole. Whatever you do, don’t be an extra.

With no plans and no prospects, I did what every other twenty-year-old did in San Jose. I hung out with my girls and went clubbing. I was underage, but we were pros. We rolled up to the club in a group ten deep. My sister, who was legal, went past the bouncer first, then passed her ID back until it got to me at the end. By the time the bouncer saw ten hot Latina girls with long brown hair, he didn’t know which way was up. Worked every time.

One of those nights, I ran into an old friend named Monique on the dance floor. Literally. I definitely heel toed right onto her toe. As we danced to “Get Ur Freak On,” she leaned in and screamed in my ear over the music.

“Hey, guess what!”

“Yeah?!”

“I’m a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders!”

“No way!”

She showed me her necklace, a silver pendant with the official Oakland Raiders logo on it. Only real Raiderettes got this special necklace, she told me proudly.

“That’s amazing!” Monique was basically a celebrity.

“We have tryouts next week!”

“You’re going on trial next week?!”

No, we have tryouts next week! You should come try out!”

“Oh, that’s not really my thing, but thank you! I’m good!”

I wasn’t a shake your pom-poms and show cleavage kind of cheerleader. I was the kind who did very difficult stunts and wore sweaters. But when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about Monique’s offer to try out. It wasn’t my style, and I wasn’t a trained dancer, but what the heck else did I have going on in my life? I went to a school I didn’t care about and out to clubs even though I didn’t even drink. I didn’t really want to be a Raiderette, but I did want to be an actress. I thought about Sandra’s offer to help me if I ever made it to LA. Maybe I could make it down there if I was a Raiderette first? When that thought crossed my mind, for the first time, my dream didn’t seem unattainable.

I was still unsure, so I prayed about it. I asked God, “What do I do with my life? I have no direction, but I have this opportunity to audition for the Oakland Raiderettes.” Suddenly, I felt something unexplainable in my gut and my spirit and I came to a decision—I was going to try out for the Oakland Raiderettes. I was going to use this as my sign from God because it felt like a step in the entertainment direction. If I made the squad, I’d do it for one year, then I’d move to LA and pursue my dream of being an actress. If I didn’t make the squad, LA was a no-go, and I’d take that as my sign to let the dream go and pursue something else I could be good at, like massage therapy or dog walking. I liked dogs. And walking was okay. I promised myself if I didn’t make the squad, I would scratch the entertainment industry off the list forever.

Moving to LA would be the biggest leap of faith I ever took in my life. I’d never lived anywhere outside of my mom’s house. I’d never paid rent or bought my own groceries. But I was going to use the Raiderettes tryout as a sign and go with whatever happened, good or bad.

The day of the tryout I drove to Oakland by myself. I brought several outfit changes, like I was the Latina member of Destiny’s Child at the VMAs or something. Monique told me to wear tight clothing that showed off my body, so I wore sparkly shorts and a form-fitting crop top with rhinestones from Forever 21. When I walked into the Hilton conference center, I had flashbacks to the Palm Springs fiasco, where I felt so small and weak. This time, I felt like I had nothing to lose, and that gave me strength and power. There were seven hundred women milling around, vying for fifty Raiderettes’ spots. My initial reaction was like Oh, no, but then I took one look at some of the outfits, and it changed to Oh, honey, no…” I eliminated at least two hundred girls right off the bat. I’m no Tan France, but a leather Catwoman costume should only be worn on Halloween or if you’re trying out for Cats.

Just like in Palm Springs, the first part of the tryout was a cattle call. The judges literally looked us up and down, asked a couple of questions, and said yes or no on the spot. It was about personality and looks and nothing more. Along with three hundred other hopefuls, I got a yes and a callback.

On day 2, we had to learn a dance routine in a giant banquet hall. They had a choreographer up on a stage with a Britney Spears mic strapped to her head so she could count out the steps as she demonstrated complicated technical moves I’d never done before in my life. I had rhythm by now, but this was way above my pay grade. So I just sold it with attitude. Fake it till you make it, right? My face was twisting into all the poses my body couldn’t hang with. I may not have spotted during my turns, but my hair flips were on point.

Suddenly, the choreographer paused the music, weaved her way through the crowd, and came right up to me. “Clearly you have no dance training,” she said, “but you have something that cannot be taught.” This was the most powerful backhanded compliment I ever received in my life.

After the audition, we all sat on the floor of the banquet hall anxiously awaiting our fate. When they called 193—my number—my first thought wasn’t Oh my God, I’m going to be cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders! In that moment, I knew I was going to be an actress.

But first, I had to get through a season of football. At our old Pop Warner games, if I wasn’t cheering, I was only interested in the snacks and hanging out with my friends. I’d never even been to a professional football game in my life, let alone been in one. Now, as an Oakland Raiderette, I had to look and play the part 100 percent, 24/7. We were more than dancers; we were representatives of the team on the field and off the field—we had to dress to impress even just walking from the locker room to our cars. For me, dressing to impress usually meant a cute lil’ hat and not a sports bra. We were given a guidebook on how to act, walk, and dress, and we had mandatory weigh-ins to make sure we didn’t spend more time with garlic fries than we did at the gym. We were given punishments for being tardy and took etiquette classes to learn which fork did what (start from the outside in) and how to put our napkins in our laps. Most important, anytime we took a sip of water, we had to wipe our lipstick off the glass—a problem I didn’t realize was a problem.

At the time, every team in the NFL had a strict rule forbidding the fraternization of players and cheerleaders—except the Oakland Raiders. On our team, the official policy was a vague “it’s frowned upon.” But I was in my season of being a good Christian girl, and I didn’t drink or carouse with football players. Non-football players… well, that was a different story. Stay tuned. So, while some of my fellow Raiderettes not-so-secretly partied with the players, in every sense of the word, I got a rep for being a bit of a Goody Two-shoes. I rarely got hit on by anyone and was relegated to the role of “funny little sister.” I’d make everyone laugh doing funny accents and impressions of all the people I grew up with in San Jose or saw in movies. They particularly loved the impersonation I did of my manicurist. “Do the nail salon lady!” they’d beg. It was like I was back in Mrs. Zamora’s class being asked to say and do funny things.

It’s hard to explain how drastically my life changed in the year I was an Oakland Raiderette. I went from rarely leaving a few-mile radius around my house to jetting to Hawaii for a calendar photo shoot. I high-kicked my way onto a Jumbotron, made root beer floats at charity events, and signed pictures of myself at mall appearances. Even though I only got paid $80 per game (I know, I know), they did allow us to buy our calendars at cost, sell them at a higher price, and keep the profits.

I was interviewed for magazine stories even though I had no clue how to be a public figure. Raider Nation did a profile of me called “Anjelah Johnson: Accent on Personality and Sincerity.” Apparently my impersonations were already newsworthy.

I picked the best year to be an Oakland Raiderette. Unbelievably, we went to the Super Bowl (unfortunately only down in San Diego, where I had been many times, and we got spanked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and I won “Rookie of the Year” on the Raiderettes. After the season ended, I deposited my $580 paycheck plus another $2,000 I made from calendar sales in my bank account, and the very next weekend, I headed to LA with $2,580 to my name.

I had my ducks in order. My mom gave me her emerald-green Toyota Camry station wagon and my cousin Joe Grande, a popular radio personality in LA, said I could live with him in Monrovia if I paid something called rent. I’ll never forget driving down there and arriving in LA at dusk, seeing downtown’s sparkling lights from the 210 freeway and getting butterflies—then driving right past it and thirty miles later being like, Is Monrovia lost? Where the heck is this place?!

So, I was a little farther away from Hollywood than I thought I’d be, but it didn’t matter. I made it. The first thing I did when I got to LA was call up my friend Sandra. Like a boss, she kept her word. She helped me create a real resume, which was not purple. She helped me get professional headshots. She gave me cute hand-me-down clothes and shoes appropriate for auditions because I was poor and didn’t have any money, and rent was steep in Hollywood-adjacent.

Best of all, she showed me how to sign up to be an extra.

Genre:

  • “How many years have we been quoting Anjelah’s comedy in our household? Too many to count! I’m a HUGE fan professionally and personally. What’s not to love about a woman who has a laugh-out-loud sense of humor and loves Jesus? SIGN ME UP!!”
     —Candace Cameron Bure
  • “Anjelah is one of the greatest voices of our time. This book is what we all need.”—Amy Schumer
  • “Anjelah represents our community and our stories that are important, hilarious, and relatable to everyone. She’s awesome!”

    Fluffy (Gabriel Iglesias)
  • "Anjelah Johnson-Reyes's first book isn't just good, it's a blazing tour-de-force: so smart, dazzlingly funny, disarmingly wise, and deeply tender--you won't know what hit you. The same intuition she has when she performs in a room crackles in every word here, yet she brings a whole different level of electricity, artistry, and intimacy in print. Because Who Do I Think I Am?, like Anjelah herself, exists at multiple intersections; it defies easy categorization. Memoir? Spirituality? Comedy? Pure magic is what it is. Read this fierce, hilarious marvel of a book."—Jonathan Martin, Author of How to Survive a Shipwreck and The Road Away from God
  • “The world is a better place because Anjelah works at her craft, brings a smile to our collective faces, and is continually (and consistently) herself. We all know she’s hilarious and daring…but she shows us in Who Do I Think I Am? that she is also brave with vulnerability and humble with sincerity. She is not trying to prove anything, not trying to impress anyone, not trying to force a bestseller…and that makes reading this book an absolute delight. Bravo my friend.”—Carlos Rodriguez, Founder & Director of The Happy Givers
  • “A book as funny, smart, and delightful as its author. I’ve had the good fortune of calling Anjelah my friend and watching her blossom through the years. This book will give you insight into what makes this woman so special. Enjoy!”—Valerie Bertinelli
  • "The very first comedy show I ever saw in LA was at The Improv, and it was headlined by none other than Anjelah Johnson. Her brilliant set made me laugh so hard I had tears running down my face. I found her energy and her comedy so relatable, I became an instant fan. Years later, I am so grateful to call her a friend. Her book is hilarious and enlightening and inspiring...just like Anjelah. And for those of us who have spent our lives feeling like we're caught between two worlds or two cultures, I am so happy someone like us is sharing her story so we can all feel a little less alone."—Melissa Fumero
  • “Anjelah’s story will make you laugh, cry, and feel inspired. I was moved by the way she evolved in her faith without losing her moral foundation. Her courage and charisma jump out at you in this book. It’s a definite must read!!!”—Brie Bella, WWE Superstar
  • “Anjelah had a huge impact on my career. She was the first headlining comic that took me on the road to open for her. I’m forever grateful for her. I loved reading her book and getting to learn how she got where she is at now. Congrats Anjelah!”—Nate Bargatze, stand-up comedian
  • “Anjelah has been one of my biggest inspirations. Her story is familiar to mine. Growing up with big dreams in a place where you couldn't achieve them. Without a lick of dance training because she just had that certain something. She made it to Hollywood, travels all over the world doing stand up, and makes the world laugh. The book is amazing and so is she!”—KevOnStage
  • "Three things to know about my girl, Anjelah: she loves Jesus, she has a hilariously saucy mouth, and she has a wildly adventurous mind and heart. What a joy to watch her soar to I've-met-Oprah-famous while still remaining authentically, audaciously Anjelah. That is who she is."—Jen Hatmaker, speaker, podcast host, and New York Times bestselling author of Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire
  • “Anjelah was making a name for herself before many of us had even started in comedy. Her perseverance and indomitable spirit are what make her not only a woman girls look up to but one of the purest and most genuine people I’ve met. I’ve learned a lot from her and I just love her so much.”—Iliza Schlesinger
  • “Inspiring, authentic, enlightening, and absolutely hilarious. Who Do I Think I Am? by my friend Anjelah Johnson-Reyes details her curious and humor-filled journey in a brilliantly impactful way. Prepare to have your own path emboldened, your limits challenged, and your growth stimulated, all while laughing out loud, literally, at every turn of the page.”—Touré Roberts, Author, Entrepreneur, Pastor of One LA
  • “Anjelah has chutzpah! This book is inspiring and relatable. For anyone who wants to know the secret of becoming successful while being true to who they are, Who Do I Think I Am? is the book for them. Anjelah is a force and this book will make you love her even more.” —Christina P., Comedian and Podcaster
  • "What an awesome read! I have toured with Anjelah for many years so I already knew many of these stories and the characters in them. Who Do I Think I Am?, gave me insight into these situations and people that I never had. Some of these stories I EXPERIENCED and we still laugh about to this day (Las Vegas corporate show)! I really enjoyed getting the backstory of my friend’s journey to success. If you love Anjelah like I do, you’re going to love this book!—Mal Hall, Standup Comedian
  • “If you don’t know Anjelah, you should! Her story is so relatable and real and beyond funny. Her timing, her material, her LIFE is all on the table and man it’s hilarious. Full of contradictions, she can make any life story funny! Her comedy makes us think differently about our lives and her energy is infectious!”—Eva Longoria
  • “Funny, moving, and inspiring.”—Loni Love, Comedian and author
  • “My friend and fellow comic, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, has been killing it on the standup stage for years, but there is so much more to her than just being funny. She’s kind, generous, thoughtful, devout, and accepting. She’s endured hardships and success throughout her life but has handled both with humility and grace, and of course, humor. In her book, Anjelah shares her journey in such a way that is interesting and funny, but it makes you root for her even more. I really enjoyed getting to know her better through her vulnerability in the book, and like always, she had me cracking up so much that people around me thought I was choking. I even had to thwart an attempted heimlich maneuver from a concerned citizen sitting next to me on a plane as I read it. I know it’s not easy trying to succinctly tell your whole life story, but she knocked it out of the park.”—Fortune Feimster, Comedian
  • “Anjelah is a singular voice in comedy and storytelling. I feel seen and represented by her work and am so grateful for her talents.”—America Ferrera
  • “Those that thought they knew Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, don’t. Her story is an amazing story of the American dream come true. Thank you for sharing your truth with us.”—Sinbad
  • "Who Do I Think I Am? by Anjelah is an incredible read for anyone with a dream. Her inspirational humor is brilliant. I was encouraged and inspired by Anjelah's courage and reminded that dreams are possible for every person regardless of where they come from."—Richard Montanez, CEO of RPM Innocation, Creator of Hot Cheetos

On Sale
Mar 15, 2022
Page Count
256 pages
Publisher
Worthy Books
ISBN-13
9781546000457

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

About the Author

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes is currently one of the most successful stand-up comics touring today, selling out theaters and clubs across the country. Well, not today, because global pandemic, but today-adjacent. Maxim Magazine hailed the comedian and actress as “uproariously funny” (weird they didn’t write “unapologetically sexy,” but okay), and Time Out Chicago described her shows as “filled with almost non-stop laughter.”

Anjelah, born and raised in San Jose and of Mexican and Native American descent, has guest starred on shows such as Superstore, The Shield, Ugly Betty, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and About a Boy. She has also appeared in such films as Enough Said, Our Family Wedding, and Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, as well as voicing a role in The Book of Life. After a stint as a professional cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders, Anjelah became an Internet sensation with her viral video, “Nail Salon.” That same year she joined the cast of MADtv as a series regular, which spawned another Internet sensation, “Bon Qui Qui.” This original character, a disgruntled fast food employee with no filter, has been viewed by over 85 million people worldwide. Anjelah also released a full album as Bon Qui Qui on the Warner Music label and performed multiple sold out tours. In June 2009, Anjelah recorded her first one-hour special for Comedy Central and Warner Bros. Records titled “That’s How We Do It.” Her second one-hour special “The Homecoming Show” aired on NUVOtv in July of 2013 and is currently available on Netflix. In 2014, Anjelah recorded her third hour special “Not Fancy,” which is a Netflix original, and is currently available for streaming. In 2017 she filmed her fourth hour-long special “Mahalo & Goodnight” in Honolulu, Hawaii. It premiered on the Epix channel and is now available for streaming on Hulu.

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