Former BET CEO Debra Lee is using her extramarital affair with BET founder Bob Johnson as a cautionary tale for women in corporate America.
Debra Lee served as CEO of BET, a multibillion-dollar company for over a decade after Johnson retired in 2005. She worked alongside the Black media trailblazer for 20 years. However, in her new memoir, “I Am Debra Lee,” she opened up about the challenges she faced after becoming involved with her superior.
“Well, I wanted to tell that story because power dynamics are so important in a relationship, and especially if you’re having a relationship with someone you work for. We all know the potential pitfalls,” said Lee on “Good Morning America” on March 7. The former attorney shared that her relationship with Johnson was strictly professional for a decade before their affair started.
“He was a mentor and he pushed me, and he’s responsible for a lot of my success,” said the first-time author. Both individuals were married at the time they began the affair, which led both of their respective marriages to end in divorce. Afterward, the two colleagues went public with their relationship.
“The downfall of a relationship like that is if you want to get out of it,” claimed Lee. “I wanted to break up. I saw it wasn’t a long-term relationship and my job and my career was held over my head and it was like, ‘Well, if you want to break up with me then you can leave tomorrow.’”
What is Debra Lee’s net worth?
The American business executive has a net worth of $30 million dollars.
Lee was born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and graduated from Brown University with a degree in Political Science with a focus on Asian Studies. From there, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a law degree from Harvard’s Law School.
She began her professional career as an attorney in the early 80s, and worked for five years at Steptoe & Johnson, a corporate law firm. She became the Vice President of Legal Affairs and general counsel for BET in 1986 – before becoming CEO of BET Holdings Inc in 1996, and the company nine years later.