With her face on over five hundred magazine covers, Beverly Johnson is one of the worlds most successful supermodels ever. But it is one cover that helped her make her mark in the industry and the history books. In 1974, Beverly became the first Black model to be on the cover of American Vogue. That cover opened the doors for many more young black women to enter the modelling profession.
In The Face That Changed It All, Beverly Johnson shares the story of her childhood, her rise to supermodel status, and the troubles behind the glamour. Johnson is brutally honest in this memoir, sharing her heartaches and redemption while also sharing juicy tidbits from backstage.
I really enjoy reading autobiographies, though lately I’ve found I haven’t been reading much of them. Which is why I grabbed this book, even though I didn’t know very much about Beverly Johnson before. I knew of her as a stunningly beautiful model but I was unaware of how successful her career was and also what happened in her personal life. I am amazed at how much I learned from reading this book, not just about her life but about the modelling industry, Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s, and the strength with which Johnson has taken on all that life has thrown at her.
From drug addiction, divorces, and custody battles in her personal life to racism and jealousy in her work life, Beverly Johnson has had a lot of demons to wrestle. But she has also had a lot to celebrate, especially the way she fought for equal rights in the modelling industry and always stood up for herself and others. She covers it all with openness and honesty, not with shame but with the hope that others will learn from her mistakes.
This book also reads like a who’s who of Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s. From friends like Jackie Kennedy, Calvin Klein and Andy Warhol to dates (and sometimes relationships) with men like Arthur Ashe, Eddie Murphy, and Mike Tyson, she dishes on the glitz and glamour of the time with very little inhibition. She also talks about her friendships/rivalries with models Pat Cleveland and Iman in a time when there was very little work for one Black model. And she also addresses her encounters with the man that everyone has been talking about for months - Bill Cosby.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it comes down to with how much she is willing to share about her life. She looks back at her troubled marriages with complete honesty and accountability. At no point do you feel guilty about poking around in her business, rather you feel as though you are sharing life lessons amongst girlfriends. Wherever she shares juicy information about other people, she does so with respect and also with an understanding of who people are and why they do what they do.
My wish for this book? Pictures! I was reading an advance copy e-book and there were no pictures in it. But the description of the print book says that there are beautiful colour copies. I hope that it’s not the case that the final e-book is missing the photos as well.
With a foreword written by André Leon Talley, this book takes you inside the modelling world and gives you a behind the scenes look at a life that broke barriers. This isn’t just about celebrity or fashion, it’s about a woman who has battled her entire life and come out stronger because of it. It’s about pushing yourself, owning your mistakes, and living life always looking forward. It’s an inspiring read.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.