Mar 7, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Modeling Icon & Industry Pioneer Beverly Johnson

By Vaneza

In 1974, Vogue‘s August issue did something new: they featured the first African-American model on their cover. Since then, Beverly Johnson has paved the way for many other women of color in the fashion industry. MyFDB was grateful for the opportunity to talk this icon to find out what she’s currently working on and her take on how the industry has evolved since she graced that Vogue cover.

What projects are you currently working on? Please feel free to share exciting news and events.
I’m blessed to have a lot of projects and business interests in motion. I have been in the hair business for over 15 years and am in the process of developing a full Beverly Johnson product line- from hair extensions and wigs, to skin care. I also have a hair care line at Target. In addition to that, I have been developing some reality and competition shows with my production partners- shows that will entertain and also enlighten. I think what we watch has to be a lot more interesting and engaging while it entertains. Reality entertainment doesn’t have to be mindless.

How did your modeling career change after being the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue?
What that cover did was to bring black beauty to the mainstream in US and really the world, for most it was their first acceptance of black beauty. In America, it was also the first time there was a magazine with a black person on it in many homes. What it did to my career was solidify it, I was doing really well – which was how I was in the position to be chosen for that but, instantly I became a role model and legend of sorts at a young age when all I wanted to do was model. So, my life and personal growth grew equal to my career.

Since paving the way for other African-American models, do you feel the industry has continued to evolve?
Yes, I do. I think we have taken leaps and moved forward but sometimes, unfortunately we do take steps back.

As a role model for young girls, who in the fashion industry do you admire and look up to?

Heidi Klum, because of her beautiful family and her good heart– girls today especially in the modeling industry should strive to be as kind as Heidi– she is modeling’s best example of a fully rounded model.

You’re an industry icon, so we must know- what are your beauty secrets for maintaining a fresh look?
My secret, I guess, if you can call it one is making a concerted effort to be happy every day.  A lot of stuff happens in life but as long as you have life it will change and evolve so be happy daily and be happy with the progress no matter how slow it may be.  For a fresh look, though, being active is so important so on that end I play golf every day which is why I live on a golf course, It’s great exercise for me.

How would describe your personal style?

Classic Ralph Lauren American with with a twist of Donatella Versace.

What changes good and bad have you observed in the industry currently?
The thing that I feel strongly about is this cycle of actresses on the covers of fashion magazines – it’s time to put the models back on the covers and let the professionals do their job.

Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring models and fashion industry hopefuls?
Study the geniuses like Alexander McQueen and let your creative imagination soar – it will take you to where you should be.

What great advice and inspiring information! That’s a wrap! A huge thank you to Beverly Johnson for taking the time to talk to MyFDB!

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