Souleo Universe
Beverly Johnson accepts award from Wendell J. Haskins/Courtesy: Margot Jordan

Beverly Johnson accepts award from Wendell J. Haskins/Courtesy: Margot Jordan

Beverly Johnson is busy these days from celebrating the 40th anniversary of becoming the first African-American woman on the cover of Vogue to overseeing the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection to completing a memoir. But this past Sunday she made time for one of her favorite hobbies: golf. In Hamburg, NJ Johnson celebrated the 15th anniversary of The Original Tee Golf Classic (OTGC), a popular celebrity amateur golf tournament founded by Wendell J. Haskins, where she was also honored with the True Original Golf award.

“Golf really was influential in my career,” she said. “It is a game of mistakes and what you do with failures.”

Lately Johnson has been reflecting on some of her past mistakes while working on her memoir. At least one of those chapters promises to recount her challenges in finding the right work-family balance.

“I was 18 in New York City trying to handle a career, college and then very early on marriage. In the ‘70s was the idea that you can have it all. And you can have it all but you don’t do it all very well. And I realize that looking back on it.”

In addition to discussing her personal life Johnson’s memoir is said to also include behind-the-scenes revelations about the fashion industry including dealing with unwanted sexual advances as a young novice.

“I remember my first shoot on Fire Island for Glamour magazine. The photographer asked me to come to his room after the shoot. He was a pervert. I would go to my agent and tell them the photographer made a pass at me and she would say ‘Is he doing that again?’ So it was like you’re on your own kid.”

The currently untitled memoir is slated to be released this January.

Will Gerard Barrett help save Newark one building at a time?

Gerard Barrett/Courtesy: Keith Major

Gerard Barrett/Courtesy: Keith Major

Beverly Johnson is a self-proclaimed ‘modelpreneur,’ so then perhaps you could call Gerard Barrett a ‘realpreneur’ (that is for the real estate sector, of course). Barrett is the founder and managing principal of Newark, NJ private real estate investment and development firm, PrimeLerner Companies. With his company managing $8 million in assets he is hoping to become one of Newark’s foremost leaders in revitalization efforts with a focus on creating housing and commercial spaces in various communities. It’s a valiant effort in a city where according to a 2013 report, 43 percent of bank-owned properties in one neighborhood were vacant.

“Right now in Newark there are a lot of buildings you wouldn’t be proud of and garbage on the street. Our efforts to revitalize vacant, dilapidated or burnt down buildings helps bring ownership, accountability and a sense of care,” he said.

Many are catching on with downtown Newark becoming a prime spot for real estate development. As with numerous rebuilding initiatives happening across the nation, there has been concern about gentrification and longtime residents potentially being priced out of their communities. But for Barrett that doesn’t have to be the case.

“I understand and get why gentrification is deemed as a bad thing. I think now is a perfect time in Newark for people to not be pushed out. Prices are reasonable and if you want to become an owner Newark is priced where you can grow with it as the population diversifies,” he advised. “Diversity of population helps because if you have a stagnant population and no movement that hurts the growth of a community. So a balance is key.”

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The weekly column, On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture entertainment and philanthropy in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.

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