World Liberty TV fashion team had the pleasure of interviewing Beverly Johnson at the Emerge Fashion Show where she was honored for this year’s Fashion Innovator Award.
Born into a middle-class family in Buffalo, New York, Johnson was a champion swimmer in her youth and aspired to be a lawyer. She was studying political science at Northeastern University when she tried modeling. She quickly landed an assignment with Glamour and began working steadily. She went on to appear on more than 500 magazine covers, including her groundbreaking Vogue cover in August 1974. Her appearance on the cover changed the beauty ideal in US fashion, and by 1975, every major American fashion designer had begun using African-American models.
In addition to modeling, Johnson has also written a book, Beverly Johnson’s Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty, and embarked on an acting career. She has also had roles in the films Ashanti (1979), The Meteor Man (1993), Def Jam’s How to Be a Player (1997), and Crossroads (2002). She has appeared in guest spots on several television series, including Law & Order, Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, the Parent ‘Hood and the Super Bowl episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun (1998). She served for two seasons as a celebrity judge on the TV Land series She’s Got the Look, a reality series, where women over 35 compete for a modeling contract and magazine spread. At the start of the series in 2008, Johnson shared that she and other models had suffered from anorexia and bulimia during her career. She had a brief singing career, releasing one album in 1979 on Buddah Records.
Johnson has been a longtime hair and beauty influencer. Beginning with the Beverly Johnson Eyewear Signature Collection in Sears Optical (1991-2002) to her Beverly Johnson Wig and Hair Extension Signature Collection (1996-2011), she was among the first supermodels to cross into the business of fashion. Partnered with Amekor, she launched the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection, a line of wigs and hair products for the African-American market. In 2010, she introduced a line of restorative and styling hair care products to Target. She currently runs Beverly Johnson Enterprises, a company that produces hair extensions.