If you thought billionaire success stories all looked pretty similar, prepare to be surprised.
From middle-class Midwestern beginnings, Sheila Johnson went from an accomplished violinist who married young to become one of the most accomplished businesswomen in America. A co-founder of the popular network Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the first African-American woman billionaire, Johnson rose to become an entrepreneur and philanthropist at the highest levels.
Her new book, Walk Through Fire: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Triumph is filled with candor and emotion as Johnson recounts her many challenges, both in her professional life and thirty-three-year marriage. From battling self-doubt and institutional racism to losing a child, suffering domestic emotional abuse, and plunging into a deep depression from her divorce, Johnson has faced no shortage of hardships. And yet, out of that pain came renewed purpose and meaning. In the third act of her life, Johnson has not only made her mark as the founder of Salamander Hotels & Resorts and the only Black female co-owner of three professional sports teams but has also finally found true love.
Walk Through Fire is at once a story of the American dream and the deeply personal portrait of one woman who, despite heartache and obstacles, finally found herself and her place in the world. Johnson’s deeply personal account of love and loss, tragedy and triumph is an example of overcoming toxicity, discovering her true self, and at last finding happiness in work and life.
Sheila Johnson is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, co-founder of BET, founder, and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, and the only African American woman to have a principal shareholder stake in three professional sports teams.
Gin Hammond is an award-winning Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre graduate, as well as an actor, writer, director, and has performed onstage both nationally and internationally. She is also the author of the recently released historical fiction novel Returning The Bones which she wrote after a decade of interviews with the main character.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Northwest African American Museum.
Community partner: Seattle Black Business Network