Vanessa Williams is an actress, singer, fashion designer, and former beauty queen. She is best recognized as the first African-American winner of the Miss America crown in 1984. But after a scandal which stripped Williams of the Miss America crown, she made one of the greatest rebounds in entertainment history, with a successful career as a singer and actress. An achiever with high career ambitions, Vanessa Williams is also popular as a Grammy-nominated singer as well as for her prominent roles in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.
Who is Vanessa Williams?
Vanessa Lynn Williams was born on March 18, 1963, in Bronx, New York to parents who were both music educators. Given her family’s musically inclined background, it was no surprise that Vanessa showed interests in the performing arts from a young age. A natural performer, she also learned to play various instruments such as the French horn, piano, and violin. Vanessa’s outstanding skills earned her a Presidential Scholarship for Drama from Carnegie Mellon University, but she preferred to study musical theatre at Syracuse University, New York.
Miss America Scandal
In search of a bigger platform to showcase her talents, Williams reluctantly decided to try her hands on pageantry and first participated in the Miss Greater Syracuse pageant which she won. Next was the Miss New York competition where she also claimed the crown in 1983. Later that same year, Vanessa Williams made history when she became the first African-American to be crowned Miss America. However, towards the end of her reign in July 1984, Williams found herself embroiled in a scandal where her raunchy photos were published in Penthouse magazine. The scandalous photos were taken a few years earlier while Vanessa was working as photographer’s assistant. After the photographer expressed interest in using Williams as a model, assuring her that she’d be unidentifiable in the photos and that they would never leave the studio, Vanessa took the chance and posed for the photos in compromising positions. But two years later during her reign as Miss America, Penthouse Magazine announced that the unauthorized nude photos which Vannessa thought had earlier been destroyed would be published in an upcoming edition. Under pressure from the organizers of the Miss America pageant, the media controversy and scrutiny forced Williams to resign as Miss America. She initially filed a lawsuit against the photographer and magazine but later dropped it, leaving them in karma’s hands.
Vanessa had gone into pageantry because she wanted exposure, but this wasn’t the kind she craved. Nonetheless, the former beauty queen eventually became a star and made a name for herself. Undaunted by the embarrassing incident which might have been the lowest point in her life, Williams thereafter turned her focus to other things instead. She forged ahead with her career ambitions and went back to her first love, singing as well as acting. She made a major comeback from the scandal with a feature film debut in The Pickup Artist (1987). The next year, she released her debut studio album The Right Stuff which was a commercial success. Her second album Comfort Zone (1991) as well as the third album, The Sweetest Days (1994), were even more successful, earning her multiple Grammy Award nominations. Williams also has two-holiday albums, Star Bright (1996), and Silver & Gold (2004). Her other studio albums include Next (1997), Everlasting Love (2005) and The Real Thing (2009). She also has 1998 romantic collection Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years.
Vanessa’s first starring role on Broadway was in 1994’s musical Kiss of the Spider Woman as the character Aurora. In 1996, she got a role in the feature film Eraser alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and also portrayed Arandis in an episode of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The next year she appeared in the romantic comedy series Soul Food. Williams played Ruby Sinclair in the 1998 drama Dance with Me. From 2006 to 2010, she starred as Wilhelmina Slater in the popular series Ugly Betty which earned her several awards and nominations including the 2007 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series. Between 2010 and 2012, Williams portrayed the character Renee Perry in Desperate Housewives. She also starred in the short-lived series 666 Park Avenue (2012-2013). She played the role of Janice in the Tyler Perry film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013).
What Do We Know About Her Parents?
Vanessa Williams is the daughter of Helen Tinch and Milton Augustine Williams Jr., who were both music teachers. Vanessa and her brother Chris were raised in Millwood, New York after their parents relocated there in order to serve in the suburb’s public school system. Her parents were devout Catholics and nurtured their children in the Christian faith.
Who Are Vanessa Williams Children and Husband?
Vanessa Williams has been married three times. First to her manager, Ramon Harvey from 1986 to 1996. The union produced three children Melanie, Jillian, and Devin. In 1999, she married professional basketball player Rick Fox and they had one daughter, Sasha Gabriella. However, in 2004, the marriage also ended in a divorce.
Vannessa found love again with a businessman from New York, Jim Skrip while vacationing in Egypt in 2012. The lovebirds officially tied the knot in 2015.
How Much Is She Worth?
With numerous movies and television series as well as a successful music career, Vanessa Williams has amassed a fortune for herself. She is also a fashion designer with a clothing line, V. by Vanessa Williams for EVINE Live. Her current net worth is estimated at $28 million.
Her Height, Weight & Body Measurements
The beautiful actress and singer stands at an average height of 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) and weighs 68 kg. Her body measurements are waist 27 inches (69 cm), chest 37 inches (94 cm) and hips 39 inches (99 cm).