She began almost three decades ago as an administrative assistant in the College of Dentistry. Today, she is an award-winning producer for WHUT-TV. Although her career path may seem like an unlikely leap for some, Beverly Lindsay-Johnson said she always knew that one day she would be working in television.
She took her first steps in that direction in 1990 when she went to WHUT to work as a secretary in the Department of Operations and Engineering, “just to get her foot in the door,” she says.
Since then, she has been unrelenting in her effort to “educate the public on the rich history of African Americans,” and considers herself blessed to “have the energy to create television programming that makes a difference in the community both locally and nationally.”
Fortunately for her, the world pushed her in the direction she needed to go. While she was still working as a secretary, she was given the opportunity to produce a documentary, which became her first Emmy-nominated work—“Swing, Bop & Hand Dance.” Further, in 1998 she received the Central Educational Network Jerry Trainor Award for this work, becoming both the first female and first African American to do so.
In 2005, she began working in the production department for “Evening Exchange,” the highly regarded interview program hosted by Kojo Nnamdi. She quickly became the lead producer and so far has garnered 22 production awards including six Telly Awards, five Communicator Awards, four Aurora Awards, two CINE Awards and the Mayor’s Art Award.
Just over two years ago, she received the Emmy Award for Best Cultural Documentary for “Dance Party: The Teenarama Story,” a work that took eight years to complete and illustrated her dedication to making sure that this story was told. In the absence of original footage, lost when the station carrying the show closed, she decided to have inner-city youth instructed in dances from the 1960s. While working with teens completely unfamiliar with this style of dance was a challenge, Lindsay-Johnson said it was an all-round great experience.
“Once we got the ball rolling and the trust of these young people, they took in all the hand dancing that they could learn,” says Lindsay-Johnson. “They loved the dance and being a part of this production gave them life lessons that were similar to the original teens on the ‘Teenarama Story.’”
The documentary was the single highest grossing film at the DC Film Fest in 2006 and has been selected for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Paley Center for Media in New York City as a program of historical importance.
For Lindsay-Johnson, each success merely inspires another. She is busy now working on “The Ben’s Chilli Bowl 50th Anniversary” and a documentary titled “The Divas of DC Doo-Wop.” Independently, she produces an Internet show called “DC Dancin’ Teens” and is working on a documentary project called “Hal Jackson: The House That Jack Built.”