Vanessa Lynn Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American singer, actress, and fashion designer. She gained recognition as the first African-American woman to receive the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984. She resigned her title amid a media controversy surrounding nude photographs of her being published on Penthouse magazine. Thirty-two years later, Williams was offered a public apology during the Miss America 2016 pageant for the events.
Vanessa Lynn Williams
March 18, 1963
|Education||Syracuse University (BFA)|
September 17, 1983 – July 22, 1984 (resigned)
Ramon Hervey II
(m. 1987; div. 1997)
(m. 1999; div. 2004)
|Children||4, including Jillian Hervey|
|Relatives||Chris Williams (brother)|
Williams rebounded from the scandal with a successful career as a singer and actress. In 1988, she released her debut studio album The Right Stuff, whose title single saw moderate success as well as "Dreamin'" which peaked at number 8 in the United States in 1989. With her second and third studio albums, The Comfort Zone (1991) and The Sweetest Days (1994), she saw continued commercial success and received multiple Grammy Award nominations; this included her number-one single and signature song, "Save the Best for Last", which she performed live at the 1993 Grammy Awards ceremonies. Her later studio albums include Everlasting Love (2005) and The Real Thing (2009).
As an actress, Williams enjoyed success on stage and screen. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 with Kiss of the Spider Woman. In 2002 she starred as The Witch in the revival of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods which earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical nomination. She starred in the revival of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful in 2013, and the ensemble political farce POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive in 2022. She is also known for her appearances in television, with her best known roles being Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty (2006–2010), for which she was nominated three times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; and Renee Perry on Desperate Housewives (2010–2012).