*Stacii Jae Johnson, former Atlanta “mover and shaker” and prominent “Hot-Lanta go-to woman,” is baring it all for people to see – in her life that is.
Her life was once that of a power-broker who served as entertainment & special events director, major fundraiser and trusted advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Her work earned her ascension to his executive leadership team for more than three years.
And then…the bottom fell out from beneath Johnson’s golden-brown feet, and the old adage once again proved true: “The higher you rise, the further you fall.”
Now, Johnson is sharing her “fame to flame” story on “From The Bottom Up,” a six-part docu-series that premiered Jan. 16 on Centric Television. The series follows the plight of Johnson and four other women, all of whom once stood at the pentacle of success in their respective professions. Yet, they all lost footing and tumbled into the desolation of disgrace and adulterated scandal.
The series gives viewers an up close, personal, and uncensored look at the issues and scandals that engulfed Johnson, as well as Christine Beatty (former mayoral chief of staff in Detroit who became a felon with then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) Sara Stokes (singer who has been jailed for domestic violence), Chrystale Wilson (actress with many brushes with the law), and Kim Smedley (a cosmetologist whose work landed her in federal prison). The series is executively produced by Queen Latifah, Nicci Gilbert, and several others.
According to Johnson, on Aug. 23, 2012, she was driving her new white Panamera Porsche on an Atlanta freeway, when she was stopped at night by an Atlanta police officer. After an intense verbal exchange between Johnson and the officer, Johnson was handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, speeding, and refusing to submit to a field sobriety test.
“He (the officer) took me to the back of his police car and commenced screaming at me and saying, ‘Why don’t you admit that you’re guilty,’ a tearful Johnson told EURweb.com’s Lee Bailey. “Needless to said, he gave me seven tickets. I still thought in my mind that this whole thing would be resolved.”
Perhaps Johnson’s belief was rooted in the fact that she had consumed only one drink. Thus, she was not drunk. Maybe she believed that she would be just fine when she gave the officer her business card that identified her in association with the mayor. The card, however, appeared to escalate matters, which, according to Johnson, filled her mind with thoughts concerning her safety and professional reputation.
“I had to keep praying because I was scared,” Jackson said. “I’ve fundraised for top leaders such as Hillary Clinton to President Obama to Mayor Reed, and here I was, handcuffed in the back of a police car. I didn’t want to be on that side of the story.”
Yet, the story was only beginning. Johnson said she later talked with the mayor about the incident, but felt that he and certain decision makers in his circle didn’t believed her account of the story. She said there was no way of proving herself innocent, especially, since the squad car’s dash cam was not operational during her stop.
“The incident was carried by all the local news stations because I was associated with the mayor’s office,” said Johnson, a Memphis, Tenn. native who graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta. “I was told what happened to me was taking attention off all the good work that the mayor was doing, and his campaign bid for re-election.”
Johnson said that some in administrative/exclusive positions in the mayor’s office promised to help her find work if she resigned. Five days after the incident, Johnson submitted her resignation. However, the promised help never arrived, which greatly impacted her financial ability to pay bills. Ultimately, Johnson lost her apartment.
Today, Johnson has moved on with her life, but wants to help other women rise up again after falls from grace. Thus, “From the Bottom Up” provides the perfect platform. In addition to the series, Johnson recently authored a book, entitled, “Date, Girl – 143 Reasons Why I Believe Women Should Date Multiple Men.”
Johnson, who has also worked as an actress, radio personality and television host, is continuing to pursue other opportunities away from politics.
“I don’t want to be a public servant anymore in that capacity,” said Johnson. “I never want to put my livelihood in other people’s hands so that they will have that much control over my life.”