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Beverly Johnson, left, at age 18, with her mother, Gloria. (Courtesy Photo)

Beverly Johnson rose to fame in August of 1974 when she made history as the first Black woman to grace on the cover of Vogue magazine. The multi-talented supermodel/actress/businesswoman/author has enjoyed an enduring career which has included writing a several books and starring in her own reality show, “Beverly’s Full House.”

Recently, she has bravely stepped forward as the highest-profile victim to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and assaulting her. Here, she talks about that incident as well as her new autobiography, “The Face That Changed It All.”

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’ll be mixing their questions in with mine. What interested you in writing your autobiography?

BJ: I’m not the type of girl who cries a lot, but I’m crying right now because I don’t know whether I’d written it, if my mother hadn’t developed Alzheimer’s. There are many things in the book that I know would’ve caused her a lot of pain, and I wouldn’t want to do that to her. When you think about trying to reduce a life of 60 years to 250 pages, it’s a little overwhelming.

KW: How did you go about deciding what to include?

BJ: Basically, what I did was break it up into childhood, Seventies and Eighties. I kinda bit off half of it. It was also important to me as an African-American to write this because we’ve had a very painful history, and haven’t passed our stories down, perhaps out of shame. I know that in growing I would grab onto any little anecdote my mother or grandmother might leak out by accident. I believe that we should tell our stories, because they’re important for the future generations. So, I want to make sure I leave my story, even though it isn’t all pleasant. I don’t want anyone to pass away with their song still inside them. That’s really why I decided to write my memoirs.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: How much harder is it to achieve the American Dream now than it was when you ascended to stardom?

BJ: What a great question! I was 18 years-old back then. In the Seventies, there were many more black models than there are today, and there were a slew of successful black designers, makeup artists and hairdressers. There were even black modeling agencies which, by the way, turned me down. Nevertheless, there were so many more opportunities for African-Americans in this realm, the fashion world, back then than there are now. I don’t know if that’s because we have a closed society in the fashion bubble, while the rest of the world has laws mandating diversity and inclusion that are making a difference in Fortune 500 companies.

KW: Teresa Emerson says: Were you aware of or had you heard about, Cosby’s reputation at all before all this happened? If so, had you just dismissed it as rumors, never thinking he would do anything to you.

BJ: No, honey, I’m a very smart girl. If somebody warns me, “Don’t go around that corner because there’s a giant sinkhole you could fall into,” then I’m going to go in the other direction.” That’s just how I m by nature. I’d be like, “Thanks for pulling my coattail.” That is what is so astounding, the secrecy that was maintained not only by the people in his circle but by the press and the police. It speaks volumes about the silence in society when it comes to violence against women in general. I don’t see it as just a Cosby issue, but as a societal one that he has become the lightning rod for.

KW: Marilyn Marshall asks: Have you forgiven Bill Cosby for what he did? Why or why not?

BJ: Oh, dear. Oh, yes. I’m not angry, I’m not bitter, I don’t want anything, and I forgive him.

KW: Felicia Haney asks: Did you worry whether going public about the Cosby episode might overshadow your many accomplishments, meaning, leave you remembered for that instead of as the first black face to grace {Vogue} magazine?

BJ: I’ll tell you this much. Whenever I discuss my legacy with my daughter, I always say, “I just want one school named after me. One school. I never wanted part of it to be that I was once drugged by Bill Cosby. I don’t think anybody would want that. For me, going public all came down to my conscience and my principles. I had to go where they led me.

KW: Irene Smalls says: You did not let the Bill Cosby incident cripple you? How did you heal from it?

BJ: I’ve always done a lot of work on myself whether in the way of therapy, a 12-Step program or self-help books. We have so many options to better ourselves and our mental health. I’m the type of person who wants to take advantage of those services, and I think I did. I also healed with the help of my spiritual connection to a higher power.

To order a copy of The Face That Changed It All, visit amazon.com.