DALLAS — As one of the young stars of Disney’s “Secrets of Sulphur Springs,” Johari Washington continues to leave his mark in history. The 11-year-old Dallas native plays the role of Topher Dunn in the popular series that just premiered its second season last month.
“I think it’s the right blend of mystery, of adventure, of characters you can identify with that are relatable and that you’re rooting for,” said executive producer Tracy Thomson of the show’s success in an interview with Latino Review Media. “It’s a show that people of all ages can watch and enjoy.”
Prior to his role as Topher, Washington appeared in commercials and performed on stage. He’s been honing his skills ever since he was three years old when his mother, who passed away from complications from breast cancer, began sending him to acting auditions.
Set and filmed in Louisiana, “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” was created, written and executive produced by Thomson with Charles Pratt Jr. as the showrunner. It follows a 12-year-old boy, Griffin Campbell, played by Preston Oliver, who moves from his home in Chicago so that his family can take ownership of an abandoned hotel property — The Tremont.
Campbell’s father Ben (Josh Braaten), takes his family, Sarah, Griffin’s mother, played by Kelly Frye, and their twins Wyatt (Landon Gordon) and Zoey (Madeleine McGraw) to live in The Tremont as they work to restore it to its heyday as a sought-after vacation destination.
It’s not until the Campbell family arrives that they begin to hear rumors about the hotel. On Griffin’s first day at his new school, he learns that The Tremont is haunted by the ghost of a girl who disappeared decades ago, Savannah, played by Elle Graham. On his journey to uncover information about the small town, Griffin has friends like Topher Dunn (Johari Washington) to help along the way, including the discovery of a secret portal that gives them the chance to travel back in time to reveal secrets about Sulphur Springs.
“We always knew we wanted to go back to the origin of The Tremont — the history of it, how it became the hotel and who’s haunting it,” said Thomson of the decision to travel back in time to the 1930s.
“So, when we initially pitched the first season we knew that the second season was always going to be about the origin of The Tremont and it provided a great challenge to our production designer, our department, our entire crew to pull off these three different time periods. It also gave us the opportunity to examine life through a different lens — racial relations in the 1930s — what’s it like for a kid to grow up in a segregated south — what’s it like to be an adult in the segregated south.
“So, I think it’s something we really wanted to tell and touch on and how it affected our characters.”
Earlier this month, Disney gave the green light for season three of “Secrets of Sulphur Springs.” A premiere date has yet to be announced. To view the show, tune into the Disney Channel and Disney+.