In August of 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first African-American model to grace the cover of Vogue. She went on from there to have a pioneering career as one of America’s first Black models, but recently she’s made headlines for fending off the advances of Bill Cosby. On the heels of that revelation, she’s released her memoir, The Face That Changed It All.
In it she talks about being drugged by Bill Cosby, her childhood, legendary career during the supermodel heyday of the 70’s and 80’s and dating tennis great Arthur Ashe.
“I was a little bitty girl when they put me on that cover, I was a toddler,” Johnson says. “I don’t know where the time has flown by,” she said. “But three grandchildren later, we’re still talking about that cover. It was a defining moment in my life.”
While working on the memoir two years ago, Johnson says it was to be the big reveal of her encounter with Cosby. Years ago, during a But she was in for a surprise when she turned the book in.
“When I handed the chapter in to my publishers, I got the word back that they didn’t want that chapter. I guess it was a lot of legal liabilities that went on. In December, when the allegations came out, I realized I had a very similar story, my conscience and my principles would not allow me to not tell my story. I told that story to Vanity Fair and after 50 women and counting, my publisher called back,” Johnson said.
Johnson says that while her book does include the incident, when Cosby took her to his house in the guise of helping her prepare for a role and gave her a drugged cappuccino.
“I don’t know what it was but the room was spinning and I certainly knew that I had been drugged. But my survival instincts kicked in and ‘Sister Girl’ came out and I just let him have it. You’re going to find much more interesting stories in my book.”
Johnson talks about her dependence on drugs as well. During the drug-fueled era that she modeled in, cocaine was the norm among models who used it to stay thin.
“We lose so many to cocaine in the entertainment industry. And it’s still a problem today. We didn’t know that much about that drug then and a lot of us didn’t make it. That’s why I wanted to tell that story.”
Click the link above to hear the entire interview!
(Photo: PR Photos)