‘Gold Rush: White Water’ Star Kayla Johanson Opens Up About Getting Used to Cameras

by Amy Myers
(Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

When Kayla Johanson joined the Gold Rush: White Water cast, the biggest challenge she faced wasn’t below the rapids or even among the crew. She had to learn how to be comfortable around the constant presence of cameras.

Before joining the show, Johanson has only worked by herself. Her dredging business is a one-woman operation, and with how successful she has become, it’s clear she doesn’t need a crew to help her find gold. Once Gold Rush: White Water star and friend Dustin Hurt reached out to her for a favor, though, she decided to change her tune. Now, she has had to adjust to working with a crew in the water as well as on the riverbank.

According to an interview with Hollywood Soapbox, being in front of cameras didn’t come naturally to the newest member of the Gold Rush: White Water cast. However, with a bit of time, Johanson proved she fits right in with the rest of the team.

“It definitely took some getting used to. Before doing this, I’ve always been super, super camera shy, so the cameras were terrifying to me when I first started,” Johanson admitted. “I was like a deer in the headlights my first week there. It became a personal challenge to get over that camera shyness, and toward the end I was pretty comfortable. But the beginning was pretty rough.”

Johanson Faced Another Obstacle Before Joining ‘Gold Rush: White Water’

Johanson’s lack of experience with cameras was no small feat for the soft-spoken gold dredger, and what added to this challenge was that she didn’t watch Gold Rush: White Water. While this might seem like only a small detail, familiarity with the show might have helped Johanson better understand the expectations from the camera crew as well as common problems that the team runs into on the water.

“I’d heard of [Gold Rush], but I hadn’t really watched it much,” she said in an interview with Pop Culture.

“When [Hurt] called me, I was kind of on the fence about doing it at first because I had my own dredging operation going,” she continued.

Ultimately, Hurt decided that Johanson would be a valuable addition to his own dredging efforts. But not everyone agreed at first.

“When I first got there, there was a lot of doubt,” Johanson shared. “A lot of the guys there – I’m pretty small. I only weigh like 115 lbs., so when people see me, they think, ‘Oh my god, how is she even going to do this?’”

Still, Johanson managed to debunk her Gold Rush: White Water co-stars’ doubts with her work ethic and fearlessness. Now, she’s the leader of one of Hurt’s teams and one of his strongest employees.