4 Questions With Beverly Johnson

The supermodel talks about her role in Tyler Perry's Good Deeds and her friendship with Whitney.

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Since she was 17, supermodel Beverly Johnson has been recognized primarily for her classic beauty.

This seems appropriate, considering that Johnson, who turns 60 in October, has graced more than 500 magazine covers, including her historic shoot as American Vogue's first black cover girl in 1976.

Yes, Johnson may be gorgeous, but don't sleep on her knack for keeping several irons in the fire. Like fellow supermodels Tyra Banks and Iman, she's wise enough to expand her brand beyond the expiration date that the fashion world likes to place on catwalk icons.

The Beverly Johnson brand will become more visible over the next several weeks: She stars in Tyler Perry's latest film project, Good Deeds, which premieres nationwide on Friday, Feb. 24, and in her new OWN reality show, Beverly's Full House, which debuts on March 31. And after 14 years of lending her likeness to the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection, Johnson, through her new company, BJE LLC, will launch Model Logic, a new multicultural hair-care line, at Target stores nationwide beginning Feb. 26. She has also authored two beauty books.

Johnson chatted with The Root about her new movie role, Whitney Houston's death and the benefits of having a diverse portfolio.

The Root: Whitney Houston has been on everyone's mind since her death last week. You were friends, and like you, she helped remove barriers in modeling when she became the first African American to pose on Seventeen magazine's cover. How are you handling the news?  

Beverly Johnson: I've known her since she was a young lady. I remember meeting her at Wilhelmina Models when she was a young girl and they said what an amazing singer she was. And of course I had known her mom and Dionne Warwick for many, many years. We were in each other's company often, and I think we had a mutual admiration.

You know, there aren't many things that make you stop. But for me, hearing about Whitney's death, the world just stopped. She was such a sweet, sweet soul, you know, her essence. And to hear [that she died] is very, very sad. I think everybody is still reeling from it. I know I still am.

TR: It seems that Whitney Houston's death affected a lot of people. Another person who admired her is Tyler Perry. You're featured in his new film, Good Deeds. How did you become involved with this movie?

BJ: I did two episodes of Meet the Browns, even though I really don't act very much anymore. That's how I got a chance to meet Tyler Perry and got to know him. He offered me the role, and I said, "Of course." I play Gabrielle Union's character's mother, Brenda, which was like a cakewalk for me. She's a lovely, beautiful, bright young lady, just like my daughter, Anansa, so it really wasn't a stretch for me to play her mother.

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