There's one thing that 90s kids have every right to be nostalgic for: Disney Channel Original Movies. The Disney Channel started making their own movies in 1983, but the official Original Movie era that we all loved started in 1997. One of the all-time greats, right up there with Halloweentown and Zenon, is Johnny Tsunami. It premiered in 1999 and starred Brandon Baker as Johnny Kapahala, a Hawaiian surfer who's forced to move to Vermont, where there's some pretty intense drama between snowboarders and skiers. But that was 15 years ago, so we have to wonder, where is the star of Johnny Tsunami now?
When Johnny Tsunami premiered, Baker had been starring on an NBC series called One World about a foster family. It ended in 2001 and he went on to do the things you'd expect of a Disney Channel star. He appeared on Even Stevens, starred in the 2005 ABC Family movie Campus Confidential, and in 2007 reprised his role in the Johnny Tsunami sequel Johnny Kapahala: Back On Board. In case you missed that one, it's about dirt boarding, which apparently is something that exists. Watch the trailer below, it should be enough to prove that the sequel is nowhere near as good as the original.
In an interview with Paste, Baker said that during his five-year break from acting that followed Johnny Kapahala, he studied film at UC Santa Barbara before doing something many post-grads can surely relate to—trying to figure things out.
I got to a point where I finished college and found myself in my early twenties just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life...So I took a brief life-examining sabbatical to kind of explore, travel and just figure out what really drives me. I worked a lot behind the camera on short films and was still working on sets, among other things, but just taking a break from acting to see just whether or not I missed it and also just to give myself a chance to mature and grow up and approach it as an adult.
At the end of that sabbatical, Baker seemingly realized that he did enjoy acting after all, as he began appearing in a few projects in 2013. Here's what Baker looks like today, thank to an Instagram that can be assumed to be his real account, based on the many selfies and other personal photos.
So basically, exactly the same but with a shorter haircut. That's a good thing, because it will help Johnny Tsunami fans recognize Baker as he returns to his acting career. He started by appearing in some friends' short films and the webseries Instacurity and then starred in and produced the 2013 independent film The Formula. Watch the trailer below.
He also appeared in a "Blurred Lines" parody video last year, "Hungry Girl," which you can watch, but I'll warn you, if all you want to see is Baker, mute the video. You can also just look at this still, which contains the only part of the video that really matters.
So far, 2014 has been a quieter year for Baker, but 2013 proved that he's ready to start a new phase of his acting career. Don't be too surprised if within the next year, you start spotting Baker in movies. Though no matter how much more acting he goes on to do, he'll always be Johnny Tsunami to us.