Born in 1952, Johnson grew up in Buffalo, NY with the desire to have a career in law. While studying criminal justice at Northwestern University, Johnson began modeling. Johnson has been on over 500 magazine covers and is considered to be the first "black" woman to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine in 1974.
The model branched out to acting in 1976. Johnson has appeared in movies and television shows like Ashanti, Law & Order and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. She was a judge for model reality show, She's Got the Look for two seasons.