Vanessa Williams’ Hollywood scandal was quite profound in the early days of her career. However, one thing of note is that she made history, becoming the first black Miss America.
Vanessa Williams was in the early stage of her showbiz career when she catapulted to stardom with two top-notch achievements, first as the 1984 Miss America, and the second one as the first black woman to ever wear that crown.
However, the victory would not go far as Williams was soon at the receiving end of society and what it frowns at. Here’s how Williams bore the brunt of being a showbiz outcast and how she survived it all.
Early Years and Voyage Into Beauty Pageantry
Vanessa Williams, a New York native born in 1963, was pretty much raised in the sphere of music because her parents were music tutors. She was into singing and dancing.
In high school, Williams sang and danced on school productions. She bagged a performance scholarship to Syracuse University, but Vanessa wished to head right into showbiz.
She left college, and by the 1980s, Williams started taking part in beauty pageants. It, however, did not take long for her to find fame. In 1983, Williams was crowned the first black Miss America.
She experienced back-handed criticisms that came with her victory. The star once shared that there were numerous threats from those who did not think she deserved the big win.
According to the music star, the worst part was that the black community criticized her. Ultimately she felt rejected because the black or brown-skinned women were not considered the standard of American beauty.
Vanessa Williams’ Scandal
The “Save The Best For Last” crooner’s woes did not end there. While she still basked in the afterglow of her phenomenal win, Williams experienced the biggest setback on her career, probably the biggest in that era.
In 1984, Williams lost credibility according to the standards of the Miss America organization; her nude photos from a PentHouse photoshoot were made public.
According to Williams, she never signed a release clause of the nudes. She also indicated that the images were taken two years prior to being plunged into the spotlight.
Williams added that the pictures were supposed to be private. Not long after, Williams was asked to renounce her title. She also swung into legal action while trying to consider her options with her lawyers.
Williams noted that no one had rights to the photos. She shared that she did not remember signing “anything; with the photographer, Tom Chiapel. The only thing the singer remembered signing was a stat, just like every other model on that project.
She recalled being assured that her explicit photos were artistic and not meant for the public. The magazine showrunners also reassured her that she would not be recognized in the pictures.
How Williams Survived The Scandal
Vanessa Williams’ scandal was out in the public space; she had dropped her prestigious title and was not being heavily scrutinized by the public. But one thing to note is that she was determined to rise above it all.
Once speaking on the ordeal that almost defined her life, Williams relayed that she held on to a rock-solid belief in herself. Williams noted that she was pretty in tune with knowing who she was.
She removed herself from the devastating situation of being a disgraced beauty queen and was determined to show people her authentic self once “the dust settled.”
She swung into action, building her career in other entertainment spheres. Williams worked on her acting and singing prowesses, and before long, the results were astounding.
With songs like “Save The Best For Last,” “The Sweetest Days,” and “Colors Of The Wind,” Williams was right back from where she dropped off and even higher.
Her acting credits include “Soul food,” “Desperate Housewives,’ “Eraser, “Ugly Betty, and “The Odyssey.” In more recent times, she appeared in “Daytime Divas” and “Bad Hair.” Vanessa Williams’ “Candyman” appearance is her most recent film project.
What Is Williams Up To These Days?
It is safe to say Williams has impressively proved her worth beyond the morbid uproar of her past. In 2015, she returned to the Miss America sphere, not as a contestant but a much-esteemed expert.
There were rumors that there might just be a re-crowning, but Sam Haskell, the Miss America organization CEO, put the rumors to rest. He clarified that Williams did not need to be crowned again because it was never really taken away.
As of 2020, the award-winning entertainer was carrying out her stint on “City of Angels.” She was also involved in helping to auction off items at the Roundabout Theatre’s 2021 gala in Central Park.