March 30 (Bloomberg) -- It was an unusual mix at the restaurant Teatro Goldoni on K Street last night, as policy wonks, journalists and civil-rights activists toasted a supermodel and a TV launch.
“I don’t know if it means I’m really important or really old,” joked businesswoman and guest of honor Beverly Johnson, the first black woman on the cover of Vogue.
She’s important enough to have her own reality show. “Beverly’s Full House” has its debut this weekend on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network LLC, run by her old friend.
“I knew Oprah before she was Oprah,” Johnson told the guests surrounding her in the back of the restaurant as they ate spinach cappellacci and for dessert tiramisu.
Sheila Johnson, the co-founder of BET and not related to Beverly, called her “a beautiful icon who broke barriers.”
Lonnie Johnson, the senior director for federal relations for Exxon Mobil Corp. (also no relation), confessed he had a crush on the pioneering model in his younger years.
The dinner was hosted by Beverly Johnson’s Washington friend, Kimball Stroud, co-founder of the Impact Arts and Film Fund.
“If you can play golf, you can do business in Washington,” Stroud said when she heard that Beverly Johnson unwinds by hitting the golf course.
Force in Business
A Democrat and civil-rights activist, Beverly Johnson regaled the guests, including CNN’s Jessica Yellin and political adviser David Mercer, with stories about her middle-class youth, sudden rise to supermodel status and subsequent move into business.
She and her boyfriend, Brian Maillian, who joined her last night, run a hair- and beauty-product line for Target Corp.
She said her TV show will chronicle her loving, but sometimes chaotic household, which includes her 30-year-old daughter, her son-in-law and their small child, and admitted that the constant presence of cameras was often irritating.
“My garage was like central command,” she said.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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