The First Black Woman To Reach A Billion-Dollar Net Worth

The Co-founder Of BET

Deontae Roach, Reporter/Writer

Sheila Johnson (Deontae Roach)

It is amazing that in today’s society that we can commend the lists of black women who have achieved a net worth of $1 billion or more. This list is very short now, but it will continue to grow over time. I’m honestly proud to see how it is now. Black women have come so far, and it is great to see that these women’s names are attached to their brand independently. Amongst these lists include Oprah Winfrey, Robyn Fenty, and Folorunsho Alakija. However, we must recognize the first, Sheila Johnson. The woman who gave these women hope that the impossible is possible!

Sheila Johnson is an accomplished violinist, co-founder of a popular cable network, co-owner of professional sports franchises, and CEO of a chain of hotels and resorts. She founded one of the few cable networks that cater to Black audiences. Johnson, along with the help of her husband Bob L. Johnson co-founded BET with a vision to bring Black voices to the masses during a time when that kind of goal in the cable world was nonexistent. It was also the help of John Malone that aided Johnson on her journey to success. Malon, an angel investor for BET, helped contribute $500,000 in startup money to get the network up and running. According to Johnson, it was his funding alone that kept BET afloat until their eventual sale to Viacom, the current parent company to the cable network.

Soon after Johnson co-founded the network BET, Johnson then went on to work on her business portfolio. This consisted of investments in planes, real estate, horses, and hotels under the Salamander brand, Forbes reports. Salamander Hotels & Resorts soon proved to be a challenging enterprise for Johnson to create as she battled a combination of regulatory issues, an economic downturn, and protests from the town.

She overcame these issues eventually because Johnson had a vision and knew how to execute it. Johnson used business practices that helped develop a large collection of luxury hotels that have elevated the hospitality industry,  according to Black Enterprise reports. She paid it forward to the town’s community and expanded to build other locations in Florida, South Carolina, and Jamaica.

In addition to these professional goals and business ventures, Johnson has also produced the notable 2013 film “The Butler” The film won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. 

I hope to one day see fellow jag’s names added to this list day, not only female but male also.