Vanessa Williams

Biography

Vanessa Williams (born Vanessa Lynn Williams, 18.3.1963)

Vanessa Williams is an American singer-songwriter and actress. In 1983, Williams became the first African American woman to win the Miss America beauty pageant.

Vanessa Williams: Childhood

Vanessa Williams was born in the Tarrytown area of New York. Her mother and father, Helen and Milton Augustine Williams Jr. were both music teachers. Her brother, Chris Williams, grew up to be an actor. The two siblings were raised in the middle-class area of Millwood, New York.

As a child, Vanessa Williams studied French horn and piano and also enjoyed singing. She earned herself a scholarship to Syracuse University, studying for a major on Theatre Arts. She left the university when she won the Miss America contest, so that she could fulfill her role as the winner. She did, however, achieve a graduation certificate from the university 25 years later when she earned her remaining credits from her Tony-award winning Broadway shows.

Vanessa Williams: Beauty Pageants

Vanessa Williams first started entering beauty pageants in the 1980s. In 1983, she won Miss New York and in September that year, she was crowned Miss America 1984 and became the first African American woman to win the title. Williams received death threats and racial abuse prior to winning the title and 10 months into her reign, she received an anonymous phone call threatening to publish some nude photographs that had been taken of her before she won the title. Hugh Hefner refused to publish the pictures in Playboy on the grounds that they had not been authorised for release and did not want to embarrass Williams any further. However, Bob Guccione, the editor of Penthouse paid for the rights to the photos, regardless of Williams' wishes. As a result, Williams was stripped of her Miss America title.

Vanessa Williams: Music Career

In 1988, Vanessa Williams released her debut album, The Right Stuff. The lead single, of the same name, was a success on the US R&B charts. The second single was '(He's Got) The Look' and the third, 'Dreamin'', was Williams' first Top 10 hit on the mainstream Hot 100 chart. The album reached gold status and she won three Grammy Awards, including the Best New Artist Grammy.

Williams' second album, The Comfort Zone featured the hit single 'Running Back To You'. The next three singles, 'Just For Tonight', 'Work To Do' and 'Freedom Dance (Get Free!)' also performed well. Her biggest hit single to date, though, was 'Save The Best For Last' The single reached number one in the US singles charts and reached the top five in Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. The Comfort Zone sold over 2 million copies in the US alone.

The third album from Vanessa Williams, released in 1994, was The Sweetest Days, which was a blend of jazz, hip-hop and Latin. It featured the tracks 'Betcha Never' and 'You Can't Run' which were written and produced by Babyface. The album was nominated for two Grammy awards.

In 1997, Williams released Next, and Everlasting Love in 2005.

Williams also released two Christmas albums. The first, Star Bright, was released in 1996 and the second, Silver and Gold, was released in 2004.

In 2009, Vanessa Williams announced a new album, to be released in June 2009, who is now signed to Concord Records.

Vanessa Williams: Acting Career

In 1994, Vanessa Williams was cast in a Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman. She then appeared in a revival of Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim.

Williams has also landed roles in a number of feature films, with the most prominent being 1997's Soul Food. She also starred in the 1991 underground hit, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. She went on to star opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser and opposite Chayanne in Dance With Me. In 2009, Williams featured in the Hannah Montana film, alongside Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana: The Movie.

A pivotal role for Williams was her performance as Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy Ugly Betty, which is produced by Salma Hayek.

Vanessa Williams: Personal Life

Vanessa Williams' first marriage was to Ramon Hervey II, who was her manager at the time. They were married from 1987-97 and have three children together. Her second marriage was to Rick Fox, the ex basketball player. They eloped and married in 1999 and have one daughter together. They divorced in 2005.

Read More

Lead Film Roles That Could Have Looked Very Different

4th August 2014 -

 News

With Robert Downey Jr fitting so perfectly as likeable irritant Tony Stark, Christian Bale slipping so easily into the tortured billionaire psyche of Bruce Wayne and Daniel Day-Lewis transforming himself into the epitome of Abraham...

Miss America 2014 Winner Nina Davuluri Chooses To "Rise Above" Racist Comments

17th September 2013 -

 News

Nina Davuluri made history after being crowned Miss America 2014 at Sunday's ceremony held in Atlantic City. Nina Davuluri is the first winner of the crown of Indian descent. The New Yorker celebrated her heritage...

'Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor' - Kim Kardashian Role Revealed In Movie Trailer

3rd January 2013 -

 News

Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy may be all over the news but making babies isn’t all that the reality TV star has been up to lately. She’s also been doing a spot of acting, in Tyler Perry’s...

Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor

3rd January 2013 -

 Video

Judith is a marriage counsellor who, ironically, has little experience of relationships as she has been with her first boyfriend for nineteen years and married for six. Despite this, she works at a well-respected clinic...

Kim Kardashian Flexes Acting Muscles In Trailer For New Tyler Perry Movie

22nd December 2012 -

 News

Kim Kardashian must really be sick of people asking her what she's famous for because she has actually been doing what can only be described as work (in a sense) over the past few months.Now,...

Vanessa Williams And Mother Sign Book - 'You Have No Idea'

20th April 2012 -

 Footage

1983's Miss America Vanessa Williams poses with her mother Helen at a book signing in Barnes & Noble, New York City. Photos are taken of the mother and daughter showing off their new book and...

Vanessa Williams - Dreamin'

6th May 2009 -

 Video

Hannah Montana The Movie

15th April 2009 -

 Video

Watch the trailer for Hannah Montana The MovieHannah Montana has had the feature film treatment. To her friends Miley Stewart is a normal girl, she goes to school and plays out just as much as...

Johnson Family Vacation

8th March 2005 -

 Movie Review

When lazy and talentless comedy writers bang their heads together to knock out a road trip movie, they always give away how little they care about cleverness and creativity in the very first reel. If...

The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland

8th March 2005 -

 Movie Review

Poor Elmo's precious blanket has been stolen and it's our job to help him get it back in "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" -- a "Sesame Street" spin-off flick in which the baby-voiced little...

Back to top

Vanessa Williams Images

More Vanessa Williams Pictures

Back to top

Vanessa Williams Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Vanessa Williams

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Our Tastebuds Are Tingling For This Year's Hottest New Artists

The world's biggest fast food chain presents three of the top up-and-coming indie...

Our Tastebuds Are Tingling For This Year's Hottest New Artists

Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett: Meet The Cast of Andy Serkis’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Hot on the heels of Disney announcing their star filled Jungle Book cast, Warner...

Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett: Meet The Cast of Andy Serkis’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Maroon 5 - Animals [Lyric] Video

Ahead of their fifth studio album, 'V', in September, Maroon 5 is continuing their promotion by releasing the lyric video for their...

Maroon 5 - Animals (Lyric Video) Video

God Help the Girl Movie Review

With bouncy pop tunes and a breezy tone, this Scottish musical sometimes feels so weightless that it seems to float right out...

God Help the Girl Movie Review

Reviews: 'The One I Love' - Moss and Duplass Shine

Starring Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss, The One I Love follows Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) attempt...

Reviews: 'The One I Love' - Moss and Duplass Shine

Jennifer Lawrence in Talks with Quentin Tarantino for 'The Hateful Eight'

Jennifer Lawrenceis in negotiations withQuentin Tarantinoto star in his forthcoming...

Jennifer Lawrence in Talks with Quentin Tarantino for 'The Hateful Eight'
Advertisement

Miley Cyrus Banned From Performing In Dominican Republic

Miley Cyrus has been banned from performing in the Dominican Republic. The...

Miley Cyrus Banned From Performing In Dominican Republic

Chris Pratt Pays Visit To Children's Hospital As Peter Quill

The world keeps on falling in love with Chris Pratt over and over again. After a...

Chris Pratt Pays Visit To Children's Hospital As Peter Quill

Win A Pair Of Lady Gaga Heartbeats Headphones From Beats By Dre

Welcome all you eagle-eyed freebie spotters to our latest competition where...

Win A Pair Of Lady Gaga Heartbeats Headphones From Beats By Dre


More recommendations

Comments