Beverly Johnson: President Obama recognizes impact of my ‘Vogue’ cover


President Obama knows his famous fashion mags.

Beverly Johnson recalls needing no introduction when she met then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for the first time during his 2008 presidential campaign: “He knew who I was because they knew the Vogue cover and Michelle Obama was a big fan.”

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Johnson, an international model, made history in 1974 when she became the first African-American to be featured on the cover of the iconic fashion magazine.

She calls being recognized by the future commander in chief “really cool,” albeit pretty surprising, and adds with a big laugh, “I knew Michelle would know ... Guys who are looking at fashion magazines? You have to question if he does.”

When they met, Obama went on and on about the groundbreaking issue, she said: “He did all the talking [about] seeing the Vogue cover and what an impact that made.”

The Buffalo, N.Y., native is now trying to make an impression on reality-TV fans with her new Oprah Winfrey Network show, “Beverly’s Full House,” which chronicles Johnson’s relationship with her daughter.

Johnson, looking age-defying at 59, was in Washington last week to celebrate the debut of the program at a dinner hosted by the Impact Arts + Film Fund’s Kimball Stroud and Michael Kosmides at K Street restaurant Teatro Goldoni.

But the fine-Italian eatery isn’t the only place fans of Johnson — who also runs a beauty and hair-product empire — can get a glimpse of the oft-photographed stunner. She marvels at the fact that her image is hanging up at the National Portrait Gallery’s “Black List” exhibit alongside those of 49 other influential and powerful African Americans. She says with a smile, “Either I’m really old or really important, I don’t know which one.”

Although she’s met her husband, Johnson has yet to shake hands with Michelle Obama. She says she would love to take the first lady — who posed for the cover of Vogue in 2009 — and daughters Sasha and Malia to see the collection of portraits in which she's featured.

A Democrat, Johnson says she’ll support the president in November. But she’s keeping a close eye on the crop of Republican candidates, “I can’t wait to turn [the TV] on in the morning: ‘Breaking [news on] CNN — somebody else put their foot in their mouth.’”

Johnson was careful not to put her own foot in her mouth when ITK inquired about that initial meeting with Obama. When asked whether she gave him any modeling tips, she offered only what Obama exclaimed to her: “He says this is going to be easy for you — taking pictures!”

This story was updated at 10:12 a.m.