Photo Name
Talent Name
Justin Johnson Cortez

Calian in “Walker Independence”


Justin Johnson Cortez stars as Calian in The CW’s highly anticipated new series WALKER INDEPENDENCE. A member of an Apache tribe living outside of Independence, Calian works as a scout for the town while holding mixed feelings about the influx of the white settlers out West. On one hand, Calian is curious about their innovations, music and culture but he remains wary about losing his tribal lands. After spotting Abby (Katherine McNamara) half-dead in the brush, Calian saves her and takes her to Independence, vowing to help her find justice for her husband’s murder.


Johnson Cortez is an Indigenous American actor of Yaqui Tribe descent. For the role of Calian in WALKER INDEPENDENCE, Johnson Cortez learned to speak Apache through an Apache translator on set and did most of his own stunts, including some impressive ones on horseback.


Born and raised in Santa Paula, CA, Johnson Cortez loved and excelled in anything athletic from skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, football, baseball to riding dirt bikes and motorcycles. It wasn’t until his mid-20s that he began to show an interest in acting and take classes. Around this time, he also began screenwriting as he realized there was a lack, and often misrepresentation of, Indigenous people in film and television.


Subsequently, he signed on to star in the upcoming feature film “Gift of Fear.” The film features a majority Native cast and crew that highlights a major crisis devastating Native populations across America and Canada. The film centers on a young Indigenous woman who goes after a gang of sex traffickers when her friend is kidnapped. Johnson Cortez stars as Manny Donovan, a federal agent from the newly formed Missing and Murdered unit, who is half Native American and thrust into two different cultural worlds as he tries to solve the case and bring the missing woman home. The film became a deeply personal and important project for the Native cast and crew as the film brings awareness to an issue that is vastly underreported.


Johnson Cortez has also guest-starred on the television series “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 creating art / stencil work out of wood blocks as well as spending time with his wife Rachel and two daughters, Olivia and Evelyn. 


July 2022