In anticipation of her forthcoming memoir, former CEO of BET Debra Lee revealed that she and network founder Bob Johnson were romantically involved while both of them were married. What's more, Lee also said that Johnson threatened to fire her if she ended their affair.
“I wanted to tell that story because power dynamics are so important in a relationship, especially if you’re having a relationship with someone you work for. We all know the potential pitfalls. I worked for Bob Johnson for 10 years before we had a personal, romantic relationship,” Lee told Robin Roberts Tuesday on Good Morning America. “He was a mentor and he pushed me and he was responsible for a lot of my success. We did have a relationship while we were both married, we ended up both divorced, and then people knew about the relationship. The company knew, we started going places together.”
“The downfall of a relationship like that is if you want to get out of it and that’s a part where it came and I wanted to break up,” she continued. “I saw it wasn’t a long-term relationship, and my job and my career were held over my head. It was like, ‘Well, if you want to break up with me, then you can leave tomorrow.’ And that was 20 years into my career at BET so I would have lost everything.”
“What saved me was therapy, and eventually, Bob left the company and I became CEO, and I was CEO for 13 years without him being there and…to live my dream without any form of harassment,” she concluded.