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America's first Black woman billionaire is promoting diversity in the arts as well as the c-suite

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23.2%. 1 min read.

Promoting diversity in the arts has become a mainstream mantra in the entertainment industry since the first #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2015, but it's something Sheila Johnson has been doing her entire adult life.

It's been 41 years since the Salamander Hotels & Resorts owner and CEO co-founded the BET network with then-husband Robert Johnson, creating a national platform for African-American music videos, television shows and movies at a time when they were often excluded from the airwaves.

"If you listen to the music, it makes you cry," Johnson said of "Grace" during a recent CNN Business interview.

Johnson and celebrity chef Carla Hall are just two of a dozen early investors for "Grace. " In August, some of the cast will perform one of the play's musical numbers during a "Family Reunion" event promoting diversity in the hospitality industry at Johnson's Forbes five star-rated, 340-acre Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia — one of her company's five luxury resorts in the United States and Jamaica.

Johnson also has challenged the hotel industry to increase the number of Black senior and executive leaders in its ranks, an issue she addressed during her keynote speech at last year's Virtuoso Travel Week Conference and in recent conversations she said she's had with other leaders from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Johnson says she's one of only two Black women hotel chain CEOs in the US that she's aware of.

"It's been uncomfortable for me personally," Johnson said of being one of the few Black women hotel chain CEOs.

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