First African-American Model On The Cover Of American Vogue
February 1, 2012 by staff
First African-American Model On The Cover Of American 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.
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), The Meteor Man (1993), Def Jam’s 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. 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.
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