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Love Advice from Supermodel Beverly Johnson

March 31, 2012

Happy weekend! It occurs to me as I write this that I hardly ever post on SiBeverly Johnson and daughtermply Solo over the weekend. But I had to make an exception to tell you guys about an interview I recently conducted with Beverly Johnson, the first African American supermodel. I interviewed Beverly about her new reality show Beverly’s Full House (debuting TONIGHT at 10 EST on the Oprah Winfrey Network). Beverly didn’t just talk about the show. She also shared some interesting perspectives on love, relationships and life that I can’t wait to share with you.

As you can imagine, it’s not every day that I get to talk with a supermodel (or anyone famous, really). I did see Seth Meyers eating a hot dog in New York City one time. Not sure why that matters, but I feel compelled to share it.

So how in the world did a girl from Chester get this opportunity?

It’s called connections, people.

Okay, not really. It’s called luck. I told you before about meeting Don, a producer of Beverly’s Full House, on a flight to Los Angeles. When we talked, I told him I’d be happy to help promote his show on my blog. To be completely honest, I never thought I’d hear from Don again. I never imagined that Don would play an integral role in helping me win the Rioja Wines contest so I could spend my winnings risking life and limb sky diving in Hawaii. The next thing I know, he’s setting me up with an interview with Beverly Johnson.

Beverly was simply delightful. During our one hour conversation, she was smart, funny and insightful. Most importantly, she was a fabulous over-sharer (just like me).

Before I share some of the details of the interview, here’s what the show is all about (from the show’s press materials):

In “Beverly’s Full House,” Beverly Johnson steps out of her role as glamorous fashion icon and opens her home to her daughter Anansa (a plus-size model), son-in-law David (a former NFL player), and their newborn baby Ava, in an effort to reconnect with her daughter and to help her growing family get ahead financially during a tough economy.

Despite following in her mother’s footsteps, Anansa’s relationship with her mother has always been fragile. With the arrival of her daughter Ava, Anansa wants to heal her strained relationship with her mother and agrees to move her family into Beverly’s home.

Humorous and heartfelt, “Beverly’s Full House” explores the unpredictable dynamic between mother, daughter and son-in-law. Throughout the season, Beverly tries with varying degrees of success to bond with her daughter and son-in-law. Despite sometimes overstepping her boundaries and at times having her intentions misunderstood, she loves her family and is determined to strengthen their relationship. Along the way, viewers will witness the drama, good times and bad times as Beverly’s traditional/non-traditional family comes together, bound by love, and learns to make it all work.

Without further ado, here are some highlights of my interview with Beverly Johnson.

Why do a reality show?

Beverly describes herself as a “small-time girl from Buffalo, NY” who married a flower child 30 years her senior. You may know him; he’s music mogul Danny Sims, credited with bringing reggae music to America. Danny had completely different morals than Beverly and she soon realized he was simply too much for her. After five years of marriage, Beverly wanted out. Yet, Danny was a man who “doesn’t like to lose,” as Beverly put it. Danny threatened to take away their daughter Anansa if she didn’t take him back. Still, Beverly continued with the divorce, and he held true to his promise and won custody of Anansa in an ugly custody battle. Danny claimed Beverly was an unfit mother because of her status as an international supermodel. It wasn’t until Anansa was 11 years old that Beverly finally reclaimed custody.

Beverly wanted to use this reality show as an opportunity for the family to work through the issues related to the divorce and why she lost custody of her daughter. Beverly says that at the time, it was absurd for a court to take away a child from his/her mother, unless the mother was sick or on drugs or something. This simply wasn’t the case for Beverly – she was being punished for her career, even though Danny’s career caused him to travel just as much. In fact, Beverly made an adult Anansa read the court transcripts just so that she could understand the truth about how it all went down.

It was important to Beverly that this be a constructive reality show. So, life coaches and therapists are involved in many elements to help the family work through their problems. Beverly notes that there are many people out there with complicated mother-daughter relationships, and she believes seeing Beverly and Anansa work through their relationship can help viewers resolve their own challenges.

Supermodels date online?

Beverly revealed that she recently tried online dating, and had an awful experience. She started talking to a guy she met through eHarmony. However, she didn’t reveal to him who she was or that she was famous. During a conversation about golf (Beverly is an avid golfer), this poor guy sure stuck his foot in his mouth when he told Beverly, “You know, I used to play golf with Beverly Johnson.”

“I am Beverly Johnson,” Beverly replied, catching him in the blatant lie. She’d never met the man in her life. Beverly says there was dead silence on the phone for literally three minutes as he tried to figure out how to respond.

What it’s really like being a supermodel

Beverly describes modeling as a career for the young, and she found herself going through a mid-life crisis at the age of 26 (sounds like me!). She suddenly had to figure out what she wanted to do with her life because she knew she couldn’t model forever.

Beverly says she wouldn’t go back to her 20s for anything. She’s finally feeling really good in her own skin now. In her 20s, she was 5’ 9” and 117 pounds. She was hungry all the time. And, she realizes now that although she was beautiful as a model, she was anorexic in the real world. It simply wasn’t healthy.

She says about underweight models, “As a fashion community, we have a responsibility for the images we put out. Because we have an effect on a nation of women and children that can be devastating if we don’t act in a responsible way and show healthy models as opposed to anorexic models and girls that cannot possibly be that thin without eating. It’s a problem.”

Beauty advice from a supermodel

Beverly says to simply be healthy. If you are eating right (being conscious of what you eat but not depriving yourself), exercising, going to the doctor and being generally responsible with your body, you will be beautiful. You simply can’t help but be beautiful.

Oprah

Beverly is close with Oprah, so I absolutely had to ask what Oprah’s really like. My obsession fascination with Oprah is well documented. Here’s what Beverly had to say about her: “She’s unbelievable. She’s gracious, fun, enthusiastic and passionate. She’s got one of those personalities that you want to be around. She’s like a magnet. I actually knew her before she was Oprah. She came to New York to interview me!”

Of course, I felt the need to tell Beverly how much I loved Oprah, but I still struggle with the fact that Oprah chose to endorse Obama over Hillary. Well, Beverly officially won me over when she said, “I’m a big Hillary supporter too! She’s such a smart woman.”

Love/relationship advice for Simply Solo readers

When I asked Beverly for her love advice for Simply Solo readers, she said you have to work on yourself first. “What I’ve found is that healthy people attract healthy people. I have been in therapy for many years and attracted a few unhealthy people in my life. It was because I had unresolved patterns and issues in my life that I blamed on the world. There are plenty of great guys out there that want to have a monogamous, loving relationship. It’s just that you have to make yourself healthy so you can attract that person.”

Beverly recently started dating someone, let’s call him Steve, after being single for 30 years. Beverly and Steve met at the funeral of a mutual friend. Before her friend died, Beverly was considering going into business with him. A year later, Beverly wanted to follow up on the business opportunity but needed some files to move forward. She swears that she distinctly heard her friend’s voice (from beyond the grave) say, “Call him.” And she knew exactly who “him” was – Steve.

So she called him. After six months, they started dating. “I love the relationship he has with his mother. That tells you A LOT about a man,” said Beverly. “I’ve been in a lot of therapy to bring a healthy person into my life. If I didn’t work on myself first, I would have passed Steve right by.”

Stuff to check out

Okay, so of course you need to watch the show TONIGHT at 10 EST on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

If you simply can’t wait until tonight, there’s a sneak peek of the show here.

Beverly also has a line of multi-cultural beauty products available at Target. You can see the full line here.

Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.


17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2012 4:51 pm

    Congrats., Catherine for that plum interview with Beverly. In response to:
    “Beverly says to simply be healthy. If you are eating right (being conscious of what you eat but not depriving yourself), exercising, going to the doctor and being generally responsible with your body, you will be beautiful. You simply can’t help but be beautiful.”

    She is absolutley right: to exercise active responsbility for your own health long term. This message rings truer and truer as we grow older (and hopefull wiser. 26 is not mid-life. You can claim that more @ 36 yrs. and older..)

    For those of us over 50 (I am 53 yrs.), it becomes very obvious visually when we see our peers and older folks, who tries to take active responsibility for their health vs. those who are in frequent denial.

    In all honesty, I would prefer to be with a partner who at least tried to do something about his own health long term without me having to do/say anything for him.

    He doesn’t have to be perfect /great about this but it would probably affect our lifestyle. Fortunately my partner is a long time cyclist…though that was not I was looking for at all when we first met…20 yrs. ago.

    • March 31, 2012 9:44 pm

      Jean, Thanks so much! I totally agree with Beverly’s advice too. I think we all need to focus on just being healthy instead of trying look a certain way. Thanks for reading!

  2. Dawn permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:31 pm

    Catherine is three degrees of seperation from Oprah!!! Great post hun, i wish i had the oprah network so i could watch it! I do hope that is not a picture of her, I use this term loosly, plus size model daughter at the top! There is nothing plus size up there!! Great post, looks like it will be an interesting new addiction :)!

    • March 31, 2012 9:41 pm

      I didn’t think of it that way, Dawn! I am much closer to Oprah now! I’ll take it 🙂
      Ha, and totally feel you on the plus size. Me and Beverly talked about this too – plus size is like average size!

  3. mom permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:32 pm

    Loved you post everyday you surprise me again and again from newspaper interviews to pod casts now reality tv personalities. So so proud
    Love you
    mom

  4. March 31, 2012 11:30 pm

    That was an interesting read, especially because I hadn’t heard of Beverly prior to the interview. I hope her show goes well tonight. She seems so accomplished and looks like she could still be a model to this day! That was cool that she opened up about her personal and professional life during the interview. Good work on getting that one!

    • April 25, 2012 10:43 pm

      Thanks, Nick! Beverly really is beautiful – if only we could all remain that beautiful as we get older! She was way more open than I expected and I really loved it! I think some of that was because she’s already sharing so much on the reality show, so why hold back with me? It was a fun interview to conduct!

  5. April 1, 2012 7:45 am

    I am impressed with you and your moxi and this fantastic interview! First let me say that you never know where conversations will lead. Most times when chatting it up with strangers, that’s all you get, but meeting Don has turned into a fantastic adventure for you in so many ways! And while your interaction with Seth was watching him eat a hot dog in NYC, your conversation with Beverly was frank and open and nothing short of incredible!

    • April 25, 2012 10:41 pm

      Thanks so much Pammy Girl! Don’t know how but I’m just now seeing your comment! I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately, and it’s so interesting how just talking to strangers and being open to their lives/experiences can impact you. This is just one example, I hope of many! Thanks for reading!

  6. April 2, 2012 9:35 pm

    awesome interview my dear!!!

    i’ve missed the internets and your blog… thanks for not forsaking me and my disappearing act 🙂

    what a great opportunity for you and this blog! loved it!

    • April 25, 2012 10:40 pm

      MIss you too blunt! I miss the most your videos. They always crack me up. Can’t wait to see the next one (no pressure!)

  7. April 4, 2012 10:41 pm

    Finally, a model who is willing to talk about the unhealthy message the industry sends to young women. I love it!

    • April 25, 2012 10:34 pm

      I know! Me too! I only wish I’d had more time with her to explore the topic. Beverly was a smart lady!

  8. 2newbeginnings permalink
    April 18, 2012 6:05 pm

    Impressive interview! You have a lot to be proud of!

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