Aug. 4 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Race in America: A Conversation with Beverly Johnson and Tina Knowles-Lawson

As the national conversation about race continues, Washington Post Live brings together two American style icons to talk about inequality and exploitation in fashion, music and American society at large. Supermodel, activist and CEO Beverly Johnson will discuss her trailblazing career, including being the first African American woman on the cover of Vogue. She will be joined by designer, activist and philanthropist, Tina Knowles-Lawson, the mother of international superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and singer-songwriter Solange Knowles. Washington Post global opinions editor Karen Attiah will moderate a wide-ranging discussion about the power of representation, current movements for social justice and opportunities for meaningful societal change on Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
In 2018, Beyoncé insisted Tyler Mitchell shoot her Vogue magazine cover, making him the first Back photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover in 125 years. Her mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, says it’s important that we continue to insist that there are more Black photographers behind the scenes. Supermodel Beverly Johnson added that photographers have power, and she believes there’s hesitance to give a Black photographer that much power. ‘The photographer is in a very powerful position in the fashion industry, and yes, we need more Black photographers.’
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Beyoncé’s latest visual album, “Black Is King,” is a reimagining of Disney’s “The Lion King,’ celebrating the cultures and customs of the African diaspora. Tina Knowles-Lawson says one of Beyoncé’s intentions was to display Africa’s beauty and show Black children the beauty of their culture.
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Tina Knowles-Lawson created many of the costumes for Destiny’s Child in their early days. She says she was inspired by Motown artists, but received a lot of criticism and pressure to give the girls looks that aligned with the pop acts of the time. ‘They [the record label] had a meeting with my husband, and they told him that, basically, I was the problem, and that I was going to be the reason why the girls would be limited in their crossover appeal because they were a little too flashy, a little too Motown, but really what they meant was they were a little too Black.’
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In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed, supermodel Beverly Johnson talks about the creation of the “Beverly Johnson Rule,’ which would require at least two black professionals to be meaningfully interviewed for influential positions. ‘It’s really giving Black professionals just the opportunity to be interviewed…We’re not in those opinions that they’re making, but we’re contributing to their companies. We’re consumers of their product. So this is something that I feel is very easy to do. Retrouve, a big skincare company, was the first to sign the pledge.”
  • 19 hours ago
Beverly Johnson
Supermodel, Author, Entrepreneur
Beverly Johnson is the Founder, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of BJE LLC. Beverly’s “Vision” is to build BJE (aka Beverly Johnson Enterprises) into a multi-billion-dollar global brand around The Beverly Johnson Luxurious Lifestyle Brand. Beverly Johnson is an American Supermodel, New York Times Best Selling author, actress, and businesswoman. Beverly rose to fame and made history when she became the first African-American women to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974, and forever changing the beauty ideal in the fashion world. Beverly is a part of the Black List, a photographic assembly of 50 of the most influential African-Americans in America. Beverly’s portrait has hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Beverly became known as a “Modelpreneur,” Supermodel and Entrepreneur, and is actively involved in building the Beverly Johnson Luxurious Lifestyle Brand in media, fashion and beauty. Beverly’s remarkable career, which spans over four decades, is a showcase of accomplishment: from model to mom to actress, author, activist, businesswoman, TV personality, and—finally—Icon. As a trailblazing model in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and the 2000s Beverly appeared on more than 500 magazine covers from Vogue and Cosmopolitan to Glamour, Essence, Ebony and French Elle. The Jackie Robinson of modeling, Beverly’s influence truly spans the globe. The New York Times named her as one of the “20th Century’s 100 Most Influential People in the Fashion Industry.”
Tina Knowles-Lawson
Designer, Activist and Philanthropist
Tina Knowles-Lawson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, activist and fashion designer who has designed for the stage, major world tours, red carpet events and international fashion and lifestyle magazine. With her husband, actor Richard Lawson, they are the founders of Waco Theater Center, located in North Hollywood, California. The organization, whose letters spell out Where Art Can Occur, provides a platform for the art community to exhibit their visual and performing arts. They also mentor young children from underserved communities, through two initiatives; Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors, exposing them to all forms of art and culture. WACO also provides education and financial support as well as after-school tutoring and counseling. Ms. Knowles Lawson is presently working diligently on a voting campaign with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called AndStillIVote, to educate everyone on the power of their vote, and to encourage them to take advantage of absentee voting and mail-in voting due to the mobility restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Knowles-Lawson, who has been an activist from her teen years in Texas, drew the attention of the entire country when she became the face of mothers taking a stand for voting rights in this historical election year. With the Mothers of the Movement (those who lost their children to police brutality), and with the support of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, she sent a letter to Congress encouraging them to pass the Heroes Act, which includes a $3.6 billion fund needed to cover safe and secure voting for all. Ms. Knowles Lawson is a mother and a grandmother of five.
Karen Attiah
The Washington Post
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.