When supermodel Beverly Johnson first made the scene more than 30 years ago, she broke down barriers as Vogue’s first African-American cover girl. She’s since spent her life working in the beauty industry, and now, along with her niece, Natalie Fuller, 23 — who was born with Down syndrome — she’s once again working to change the perception of what “beauty” is all about.
“Ever since Natalie was born, I wanted to make a difference in her life,” says Beverly, 59, who admits that, at first, hearing about Natalie’s condition wasn’t easy. “I was stunned,” she tells In Touch, quickly adding that the minute she held infant Natalie in her arms, everything changed.
Since then, Beverly has become a passionate advocate for Down syndrome awareness, and says she couldn’t have been happier when her niece rocked the runway at a fundraiser organized by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Beverly's the Global Down Syndrome Foundation's International Spokesperson). “When she walked out, the crowd went wild. I was watching her and I was thinking, ‘She is a natural!’ It must run in the family!” chuckles Beverly, whose daughter Anansa Sims, 33 (also a model), is set to appear on Beverly’s new reality show Beverly’s Full House, which debuts on Oprah’s OWN network on March 31. “I couldn’t be prouder of Natalie. She’s an extraordinary girl,” says Beverly.