APB Speaker & Supermodel Beverly Johnson Shares the Story of Her Pioneering "Vogue" Cover
13 Jan 2022
The first African-American model to ever grace the cover of Vogue magazine recently shared the story of her groundbreaking achievement on Vogue’s “Behind the Moment” YouTube series. Supermodel and APB speaker Beverly Johnson was first featured on the cover of Vogue in 1974. At the time, she had no idea she was the first person of color to be published on the cover of the iconic fashion magazine. Johnson went on to appear on more than 500 other covers, including those of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Essence, Ebony and French Elle.
“The idea there had never been a Black person on the cover of Vogue never crossed my mind,” Johnson says. “But being on the cover meant that you won the Oscar. It meant that you had a gold medal. And that's where I wanted to go. I wanted to be the top of that profession. Not just the top Black model, I wanted to be the top model period."
For Johnson, realizing she was the first led to a lot of soul searching, delving into her history and a change of attitude. “The Civil Rights Movement wasn't as permanent as I thought as a young person,” she says. “That Vogue cover meant that we were being acknowledged and that we, too, are American and we, too, are beautiful. So, it was a huge responsibility to young women … I had this really heavy weight on my shoulders and I wanted to make sure that I lived up to that moment.”
Live up to it, indeed. Johnson’s remarkable career, which spans over three decades, is a showcase of accomplishment: from model to mom to actress, author, activist, businesswoman, TV personality and—finally—Icon.
Johnson is a Founder, Chairwoman and CEO of BJE LLC (Beverly Johnson Enterprises). Her vision is to build BJE into a multibillion dollar global brand around The Beverly Johnson Luxurious Lifestyle Brand that represents the “highest quality” luxurious products in hair, beauty and cosmetics, fashion and media to the global Multi-Cultural market for women of all colors.
Johnson has also become an advocate for more diversity in the fashion industry. That’s why she came up with the Beverly Johnson rule: interview at least two people of color for open board of director seats. You don’t have to hire them but at least consider these candidates, she believes. “We all know that policy is made with the board of directors and they pass it down,” she says.
As far as creating a legacy, Johnson is not sure what hers will be but she knows what she would like it to become. “I'm a transformative person,” she says. “I'm a positive person. And I believe in people. I believe in the human spirit. So, that would be a nice legacy.”