African American Firsts

Beverly Johnson – First African American Model in Vogue

Beverly Johnson (born October 13, 1952) is an American model, actress, and businesswoman. She made history when she rose to fame as the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue  in 1974 (August issue). A year later, she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle magazine. She is currently the star of the reality series Beverly’s Full House on the Oprah Winfrey Network which focuses on her attempt to heal the flawed mother/daughter relationship with daughter, Anansa Sims, who is a plus size model.

Johnson was honored in 2006 at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball along with Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Tina Turner and other female African Americans in entertainment, civil rights, and the arts. The New York Times named Johnson one of the 20th century’s most influential people in fashion.



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 criminal justice at Northeastern University when she tried her hand at modeling. She quickly landed an assignment with Glamour
magazine and began working steadily. Johnson would go on to grace more than 500 magazine covers including her groundbreaking Vogue cover in August 1974. Johnson’s appearance on the cover changed the beauty ideal in fashion and by 1975, every major American fashion designer began using African American models.

In addition to modeling, Johnson has also authored 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 Ashanti (1979), Meteor Man (1993), How to Be a Player (1997), and Crossroads (2002). She has also 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 had a brief singing career releasing one album in 1979 on Buddah Records.

Johnson served for 2 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.  Johnson, partnered with Amekor, owns the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection a popular 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.

In her personal life, at the age of 19, Johnson married real estate agent, Billy Potter, in 1971. They divorced in 1974. In 1977, she married her second husband, music producer/publisher Danny Sims. Sims and Johnson separated in 1979 and later divorced. In 1984, however, they did have one daughter together, Anansa, who is now a plus size model.

Johnson’s acting career slowed in the mid-1980’s as her personal life required her attention. Citing her supermodel obligations’ schedule, Johnson lost custody of her daughter to her former husband, Danny Sims. Johnson felt restricted from seeing her daughter with only limited visitation. She fought for custody of her daughter for years, spending nearly all of her money but did finally win as her ex-husband’s business ventures moved him to Europe.

In 1995, Johnson dated actor Chris Noth. The couple broke up three years later in 1998.

Read more: Beverly Johnson Biography – life, children, name, wife, school, mother, book, information, born, college – Newsmakers Cumulation

In 2005, former professional golfer Mark Burk, moved in with Johnson. Burk was later convicted of making threats against Johnson when they ended their relationship in 2008. A lawsuit was filed in 2009 by Burk against Johnson for breach of contract.



Year Title Role Other notes
1976 Deadly Hero
Emergency! TV, 1 episode
1977 The Baron
1978 Crisis in Sun Valley Beverly Television film
1979 Ashanti Dr. Anansa Linderby Alternative title: Ashanti, Land of No Mercy
1980 The Sky Is Gray John Lee’s Mother Television film
1990 Hunter Allistar Lang TV, 1 episode
1992–1993 Law & Order Marcela/Salamotu TV, 2 episodes
1993 Martin Ms. Trinidad
Loaded Weapon 1 Doris Luger
The Meteor Man Woman Doctor
The Cover Girl Murders Michaela Television film
A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives Jane Marlowe Morrison Television film
1994 A Brilliant Disguise Barbara
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Mrs. Cox TV, 2 episodes
1995 The Wayans Bros. Miss Kita TV, 1 episode
Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder Alana Durand Television film
1996 Red Shoe Diaries Lorri TV, 1 episode
Crossworlds The Queen
The Parent ‘Hood Mrs. Jordon TV, 1 episode
1997 True Vengeance Lt. Kada Wilson Alternative title: Truth or Consequences
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Fashion designer TV, 1 episode
Def Jam’s How to Be a Player Robin
1998 3rd Rock from the Sun Prell TV, 2 episodes
54 Elaine’s Patron
2000 Down ‘n Dirty Sandra Collins
2002 Crossroads Kit’s Mother
Red Shoe Diaries 15: Forbidden Zone Lorri Segment: The Forbidden Zone
2010 Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns Kate 1 episode
2012 Beverly’s Full House Herself TV, 8 episodes

See also

  • “Liberian Girl”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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