Vanessa Williams
Williams in 2019
Vanessa Lynn Williams

(1963-03-18) March 18, 1963 (age 60)
New York City, U.S.[1]
EducationSyracuse University (BFA)
  • Singer
  • actress
  • model
  • producer
  • dancer
Years active1982–present
TermMiss America:
September 17, 1983 – July 22, 1984 (resigned)
PredecessorDebra Maffett
SuccessorSuzette Charles
Ramon Hervey II
(m. 1987; div. 1997)
(m. 1999; div. 2004)
Jim Skrip
(m. 2015)
Children4, including Jillian Hervey
RelativesChris Williams (brother)
AwardsFull list
Musical career

Vanessa Lynn Williams[1] (born March 18, 1963) is an American singer, actress, model, producer, and dancer. She gained recognition as the first African-American woman to receive the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984, but resigned her title amid a media controversy surrounding nude photographs of her being published in Penthouse magazine. Thirty-two years later, Williams was offered a public apology during the Miss America 2016 pageant for the events.

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'" that 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 that 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).

Early life and education

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born in Tarrytown, New York, with a birth announcement that read: "Here she is: Miss America".[2][3] She was raised in Millwood, New York.[1]

A paternal great-great-grandfather was William A. Fields, an African-American legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Williams is also of English and Welsh descent.[4][5] Her mother Helen Tinch met her father Milton Augustine Williams Jr. (1935–2006) while both were music education students at Fredonia State Teachers College in the late 1950s.[6] They became elementary school music teachers in separate districts after marriage.[6] Milton also served as the assistant principal of his school for an extended period of time.[7]

Williams was raised Catholic, the religion of her father. Her mother, who had been raised Baptist, converted to Catholicism when she married. Williams was baptized at Our Lady of Grace Church in the Bronx. Her mother played the organ at St. Theresa's Church in Briarcliff Manor for weddings and at Mass, and Williams used to assist her mother by turning the pages of sheet music.[2]

Williams and her younger brother Chris (who would later become an actor) grew up in Westchester County, a predominantly white middle to upper-class suburb of New York City.[3] Williams believes she may have been the first African-American student to go from the first grade to the 12th grade in the Chappaqua Central School District.[5] She attended Robert E. Bell Middle School, as did her children years later. Williams revealed that the shop and home economics teachers (Mr. and Mrs. Fink) were still there when her children attended.[8]

A child of music teachers, Williams grew up in a musical household, studying classical and jazz dance, French horn, piano, and violin.[1][2] She was offered the Presidential Scholarship for Drama to attend Carnegie Mellon University during the college application period, (one of 12 students to receive it) but decided instead to attend Syracuse University[1] on a different scholarship.[9] Thus, in 1981, Williams joined Syracuse's College of Visual and Performing Arts, Department of Drama as a musical theater major.[9][10] She stayed at Syracuse through her second year until she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983.[10]

In May 2008, Syracuse granted Williams a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.[11] According to Syracuse News, "Williams earned the remaining credits for her degree through industry experience and her substantial performances on stage and screen."[10] Williams also delivered the 2008 convocation address, telling Syracuse seniors to "treasure this moment. These days are irreplaceable and are the beginning of the rest of your life."[12]

Name misattribution

Williams is most often publicly recognized simply as "Vanessa Williams". There is, however, occasional confusion with the similarly named actress Vanessa E. Williams. It has been reported that Vanessa L. became aware of Vanessa E. in the 1980s when the New York University registrar told her that another, similarly aged student with the same name and from the same state had applied.[13][14] When Williams appeared as Miss America in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Vanessa E. accidentally received her check for the appearance, which she returned.[13]

In the area of acting, the two ran into name conflict when Screen Actors Guild rules prohibited duplicate stage naming. Vanessa E. had registered the name "Vanessa Williams" first,[13] so as a compromise, Williams was occasionally credited as "Vanessa L. Williams" in acting credits. To compound the confusion, both actresses starred in versions of the drama Soul Food (Williams in the film version, and Vanessa E. in its TV series adaptation). The Screen Actors Guild eventually took the issue to arbitration and decided both actresses could use the professional name "Vanessa Williams".[14]

Miss America

Main article: Vanessa Williams and Miss America

Williams in 1984
Williams at the conclusion of her performance of "Oh How the Years Go By" at Miss America 2016

Williams was the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983. Several weeks before the end of her reign, however, a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of her. Williams was pressured to relinquish her title and was succeeded by the first runner-up: Miss New Jersey 1983, Suzette Charles. Thirty-two years later in September 2015, when Williams served as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant, former Miss America CEO Sam Haskell made a public apology to her for the events of 1984.[15][16][17][18]



Williams first received public recognition for her musical abilities when she won the preliminary talent portion of the Miss America pageant with her rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again" (Williams would later be crowned Miss America 1984).[15] Four years later in 1988, Williams released her debut album, The Right Stuff.[1] The first single, "The Right Stuff", found success on the R&B chart, while the second single, "He's Got the Look", found similar success on the same chart. The third single, "Dreamin'", was a pop hit, becoming Williams' first top 10 hit on the 1989 Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 8, and her first number one single on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album reached gold status in the U.S. and earned her an NAACP Image Award and three Grammy Award nominations, including one for Best New Artist.[1]

Her second album The Comfort Zone became the biggest success in her music career.[1] The lead single "Running Back to You" reached top twenty on the Hot 100, and the top position of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on October 5, 1991. Other singles included "The Comfort Zone" (#2 R&B), "Just for Tonight" (#26 Pop), a cover of The Isley Brothers' "Work to Do" (#3 R&B), and the club-only hit "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)". The most successful single from the album, as well as her biggest hit to date, is "Save the Best for Last". It reached No. 1 in the United States, where it remained for five weeks, as well as No. 1 in Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada, and was in the top 5 in Japan, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The album sold 2.2 million copies in the U.S. at its time of release and has since been certified triple platinum in the United States by the RIAA, gold in Canada by the CRIA, and platinum in the United Kingdom by the BPI. Williams performed the song live at the 1993 Grammy Awards Ceremony. The Comfort Zone earned Williams five Grammy Award nominations.[1]

The Sweetest Days, her third album, was released in 1994 to highly-favorable reviews.[1] The album saw Williams branch out and sample other styles of music that included jazz, hip hop, rock, and Latin-themed recordings such as "Betcha Never" and "You Can't Run", both written and produced by Babyface. Other singles from the album included the adult-contemporary and dance hit "The Way That You Love" and the title track. The album was certified platinum in the U.S. by the RIAA and earned her two Grammy Award nominations.[1]

Other releases include two Christmas albums, Star Bright in 1996, and Silver & Gold in 2004; Next in 1997, Everlasting Love in 2005, and The Real Thing in 2009, along with a greatest-hits compilation released in 1998, and a host of other compilations released over the years.[1] Chart performances from subsequent albums, motion picture and television soundtracks have included the songs "Love Is", which was a duet with Brian McKnight, the Golden Globe- and Academy Award-winning "Colors of the Wind", "Where Do We Go from Here?", and "Oh How the Years Go By".[1]

In 1996, Williams performed the national anthem at Super Bowl XXX.

In April 2018, she announced she was working on a new studio album due in the Fall that would incorporate her R&B, pop & Broadway influences.[19]

Television and film

Williams in 2016

Williams has had a successful career in television. Her first television appearance was on a 1984 episode of The Love Boat[20] followed by guest appearances in a number of popular shows. In 1995, Williams starred as Rose Alvarez in a television adaptation of the 1960 Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie and portrayed the nymph Calypso in the 1997 Hallmark Entertainment miniseries The Odyssey. In 2001, Williams starred in the Lifetime film about the life of Henriette DeLille, The Courage to Love and in 2003, Williams read the narrative of Tempie Herndon Durham from the WPA slave narratives in the HBO documentary Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. In 2006, Williams received considerable media attention for her comic/villainess role as former model/magazine creative director turned editor-in-chief Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy series Ugly Betty.[1] Her performance on the series resulted in a nomination for outstanding supporting actress at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards[21] and in 2008 and 2009, she was nominated in the outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series category for Ugly Betty.[1] Williams next joined the cast of Desperate Housewives for its seventh season, where she portrayed Renee Perry, an old college "frenemy" of Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman).[22] In 2016, she joined the cast of The Librarians, as recurring villainess General Rockwell.[23] She starred as Maxine in the VH1 television series Daytime Divas during its one season in 2017.[24][25]

Williams has appeared in a number of feature films. She received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of Teri Joseph for the 1997 feature film Soul Food. In 2007, she starred in the independent film My Brother,[26] for which she won Best Actress honors at the Harlem International Film Festival, the African-American Women in Cinema Film Festival, and at the Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Festival. She also notably co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser,[27] Samuel L. Jackson in the 2000 soft reboot of Shaft, the characters from Sesame Street in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (as the Queen of Trash), and with Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie.[28]


Williams began her career on stage in the 1985 production, One Man Band, as one of "the women".[29] She followed it in 1989 as "Laura" in Checkmates.[30]

In 1994, she broadened her ascendant music career into a theatrical role when she replaced Chita Rivera as Aurora in the Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman.[31] In 1998, she portrayed Della Green in the revival of St. Louis Woman,[32] and Carmen Jones in the 2002 Kennedy Center Special Performance of Carmen Jones.[33] In the same year, she was also featured in the Tony/Drama Desk Award-winning revival production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, for which she was nominated for a Tony and Drama Desk Award for her performance as the Witch. This production included songs revised for her.[34] In 2010, Vanessa starred in a new Broadway musical revue entitled Sondheim on Sondheim, a look at Stephen Sondheim through his music, film and videotaped interviews. Sondheim ran from March 19 to June 13 at Studio 54 in New York City.[35] In 2013, she starred as Jessie Mae Watts in the Horton Foote play The Trip to Bountiful, which was later turned into a 2014 television film.[36] In 2014, she starred in the Broadway musical, After Midnight[37] and in 2015, she appeared in a PBS production of Show Boat as Julie La Verne.[38] Williams will star as Margaret in POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive on Broadway, with performances beginning on April 14, 2022, at the Shubert Theatre.[39]

Additional roles

Williams at the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City

Williams served as the host of the 1994 Essence Awards,[40] co-host of Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters: Verve Records at 50,[41] host of the 1998 NAACP Image Awards,[42] host of the 2002 documentary, It's Black Entertainment, host of The 6th Annual TV Land Awards in 2007,[43] host of the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2009,[44] and finally host of the documentary Dreams Come True: A Celebration of Disney Animation (2009).

Williams is a spokesmodel for Proactiv Solution,[45] and was the first African-American spokesmodel for L'Oréal cosmetics in the 1990s.[46] In 2018, Williams returned as a spokesmodel for L'Oréal as part of their 'Age perfect' campaign alongside fellow ambassadors Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore and Jane Fonda.[47] She appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2000 as a contestant, and once again on August 10, 2009, as a celebrity guest during the show's tenth anniversary prime-time special editions, winning $50,000 for her charity.[48][49]

In a commercial that began running during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, Williams voiced the new character Ms. Brown, a brown M&M.[50]

In 2020, Williams was the winner of episode 2 of RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race, and donated her prize of $20,000 to the LGBTQ charity The Trevor Project.


In March 2016, Williams launched her own clothing line, V. by Vanessa Williams, for EVINE Live.[51]

Personal life

Williams and her mother Helen co-authored a memoir titled You Have No Idea, published in April 2012. In the book, Williams discusses her childhood, rise to fame, and personal struggles (including life with type 1 diabetes), including the fact that she was sexually molested by a woman when she was ten years old.[52][53] She also spoke candidly about having an abortion while she was in high school.[54]

Williams is a practicing Catholic, something she spoke about on the ABC News program Focus on Faith with Fr. Edward L. Beck.[2]

Williams has been married three times. She married Ramon Hervey II[55][56] at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church[57] in 1987[57][58] just a few years after giving up her Miss America crown, and gave birth to her first child at that time. Hervey was a public relations specialist who was hired to resuscitate her career after her resignation.[57][59][60] They had three children, Melanie, Jillian, and Devin,[61] and divorced in 1997.[62][63] She married NBA basketball player Rick Fox in 1999. They had one daughter, Sasha Gabriella Fox,[61][64] and divorced in 2004.[1][65][66] In 2015, she married Jim Skrip, a businessman from Buffalo, New York at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, after receiving a Church annulment of her first marriage.[67][68][69]

Her daughter Jillian Hervey is an American singer, dancer and member of the group Lion Babe.


Williams is involved with a number of humanitarian causes. She is a supporter of LGBT rights and same sex marriage, and in 2011 participated in the human rights campaign New Yorkers for Marriage Equality.[70] She is partnered with Dress For Success, an organization that provides professional attire for low-income women seeking employment.[25][71] Williams is also involved with The San Miquel Academy of Newburgh, a school for boys at risk.[72]

Honors and awards

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Vanessa Williams

Williams in 2012

Williams is the recipient of many awards and nominations including Grammy nominations for hits such as "The Right Stuff", "Save the Best for Last", and "Colors of the Wind". In addition, she has earned multiple Emmy nominations, a Tony Award nomination, seven NAACP Image Awards, and four Satellite Awards.

She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 19, 2007.[73]

In December 2017, Vanessa L. Williams participated at COAF Gala fundraising event, delivering a special performance of her Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning song "Colors of the Wind" and paid tribute to Patricia Field, with whom she worked on the set of the TV series Ugly Betty.[74]


Main article: Vanessa Williams discography

Studio albums



Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Pick-up Artist Rae
1988 Under the Gun Samantha Richards
1989 Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal Valentine Hayward Television film
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer Terri Knight Television film
Seriously...Phil Collins Rachel Television film
The Kid Who Loved Christmas Lynette Parks Television film
1991 Another You Gloria
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man Lulu Daniels
1992 Stompin' at the Savoy Pauline Television film
1995 Nothing Lasts Forever Dr. Kathy "Kat" Hunter Television film
Bye Bye Birdie Rose Alvarez Television film
1996 Eraser Dr. Lee Cullen
1997 Soul Food Teri Joseph
Hoodlum Francine Hughes
1998 Dance with Me Ruby Sinclair
Futuresport Alejandra 'Alex' Torres Television film
1999 The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland Queen of Trash
Light It Up Detective Audrey McDonald
2000 The Courage to Love Mother Henriette DeLille Television film
Don Quixote Dulcinea/Aldonza Television film
Shaft Carmen Vasquez
A Diva's Christmas Carol Ebony Scrooge Television film
2001 WW3 M.J. Blake Television film
Santa, Baby! Alicia Voice, television film
2002 Keep the Faith, Baby Hazel Scott Television film
2004 Johnson Family Vacation Dorothy Johnson
Beck and Call Zoe Short
2006 Rehearsing a Dream Herself Short
My Brother L'Tisha Morton
2007 The Beautiful World of Ugly Betty Wilhelmina Slater Television film
And Then Came Love Julie Davidson
2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie Vita
2011 Delhi Safari Beggum Voice
2013 He's Way More Famous Than You Herself
Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor Janice
2014 The Trip to Bountiful Jessie Mae Watts Television film
When Marnie Was There Hisako Voice
2017 The Man From Earth: Holocene Carolyn
2018 Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay Amanda Waller Voice, direct-to-video
The Legend of Hallowaiian Fire Goddess Voice
False Profits Suzanne Television film
2019 Batman: Hush Amanda Waller Voice, direct-to-video
Miss Virginia Sally Rae
2020 Bad Hair Zora
2021 A Christmas Family Reunion Eve Christmas Television film


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Live from Lincoln Center Graduates/Off Stage Voices Episode: "New York City Opera: Street Scene"
1984 Partners in Crime Roselle Robins Episode: "Celebrity"
The Love Boat Miss America Episode: "Ace's Valet/Mother Comes First/Hit or Miss America"
1986 He's the Mayor Herself Episode: "An Officer and the Mayor"
The Redd Foxx Show Jessica Episode: "The Prodigal Son"
T.J. Hooker Officer Pat Williamson Episode: "Partners in Death"
The Love Boat Pearl Episode: "My Stepmother, Myself/Almost Roommates/Cornerback Sneak"
1987 Password Plus and Super Password Herself/Celebrity Contestant Recurring role
1988 Showtime at the Apollo Herself Episode: "Episode #2.3"
Soul Train Herself Episode: "Thomas Dolby/Vanessa L. Williams/Tony Terry"
1989 After Hours Herself/Host Episode: "Turkey Day Part 2"
Family Feud Herself/Celebrity Contestant Recurring Guest
1992 Soul Train Herself Episode: "Vanessa L. Williams/Shanice Wilson/Jodeci"
Soul Train Music Awards Herself/Co-Host
Saturday Night Live Herself Episode: "Woody Harrelson/Vanessa Williams"
The Jacksons: An American Dream Suzanne de Passe Episode: "Part I & II"
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Danny Mitchell Episode: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Home from the Forum"
1994 Essence Awards Herself/Host Main Host
Great Performances Herself/Host Episode: "Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters: Verve Records at 50"
1995 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Beauty Voice, episode: "Beauty and the Beast"
1996 Intimate Portrait Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Arandis Episode: "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."
1997 The Odyssey Calypso Episode: "Part I & II"
1998 NAACP Image Awards Herself/Co-Host
Saturday Night Live Herself Episode: "Alec Baldwin/Luciano Pavarotti, Vanessa Williams"
1999 I'll Make Me a World Herself/Narrator
L.A. Doctors Dr. Leanne Barrows Recurring role
2000 Sesame Street Herself Episode: "Dancing on Sesame Street"
Christmas in Vienna Herself Episode: "Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna"
2000–09 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Herself/Celebrity Contestant Recurring guest
2002 Cool Women Herself Episode: "Singers/Actresses"
Ally McBeal Sheila Hunt Episode: "Another One Bites the Dust"
The Proud Family Debra Williams Voice, episode: "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thingy, Baby"
2003 Boomtown Detective Katherine Pierce Recurring role (season 2)
2004 Mad TV Herself Episode: "Episode #9.20"
Fashion in Focus Herself Episode: "Compassion in Fashion"
Evening at Pops Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
2005 Black in the 80s Herself Episode: "Color in Film" & "Color TV"
Gospel Superfest Herself/Host Main host
2006 South Beach Elizabeth Bauer Main cast
2006–10 Ugly Betty Wilhelmina Slater Main cast
2007 Shear Genius Herself/Celebrity Judge 2 episodes
E! True Hollywood Story Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
2007–08 Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies Mama Mirabelle Voice, main role
2009 Daytime Emmy Awards Herself/Host
2010 Drama League Award Herself/Host
Biography Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
The A-List: New York Herself Episode: "To the Sky"
2010–12 Desperate Housewives Renee Perry Main role (seasons 7 and 8)
2011 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
RuPaul's Drag Race Herself/Guest Judge Episode: "The Queen Who Mopped X–mas"
2012 Kitchen Cousin's Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams Kitchen Surprise"
Phineas and Ferb Flight Attendant Voice, episode: "Where's Perry? Part I"
2012–13 666 Park Avenue Olivia Doran Main role
2014 The Haunting Of Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
Oprah's Master Class Herself Episode: "Vanessa Williams"
2015 The Mindy Project Dr. Philips Episode: "Danny Castellano Is My Nutritionist"
Royal Pains Olympia Houston Recurring role (season 7)
The Good Wife Courtney Paige Recurring role (season 7)
Live from Lincoln Center Julie LaVerne Episode: "Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat"
2016 Broad City Elizabeth Carlton Episode: "Game Over"
2016–17 The Librarians General Cynthia Rockwell Recurring role (season 3)
2016–18 Milo Murphy's Law Dr. Eileen Underwood Voice, recurring role
2017 Daytime Divas Maxine Robinson Main cast
Difficult People Trish Episode: "Strike Rat"
Modern Family Rhonda Episode: "The Long Goodbye"
2018 RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars Herself/Guest Judge Episode: "Divas Lip Sync Live"
Pyramid Herself/Celebrity Player Episode: "Kathy Najimy vs. Yvette Nicole Brown and Vanessa Williams vs. Gary Cole"
Me, Myself & I Kelly Frasier Recurring role
2019 American Style Herself Recurring guest
Project Runway All Stars Herself/Guest Judge Episode: "Penneys From Heaven"
Match Game Herself/Celebrity Player Episode: "Joel McHale/Rachael Ray/Jason Biggs/Caroline Rhea/Donald Faison/Vanessa Williams"
Doc McStuffins Delilah Voice, episode: "Adventures in Baby Land"
First Wives Club Nancy Episode: "Something Blue"
2019–22 T.O.T.S. Captain Candace Beakman Voice, main role
2020 RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race Herself/Vanqueisha De House Contestant (season 1)
How's Your Head, Hun? Herself Episode: "Love in the Time of Quarantine"
Let's Make a Deal Herself Episode: "Episode #12.27"
2020–21 Twenties Angela Guest (season 1), recurring (season 2)
2021 Broadway Profiles Herself 2 episodes
A Capitol Fourth Herself/Host
Kenan Tasha Noble Episode: "Hair Show"
Girls5eva Nance Trace Recurring role (season 1)
Marvel's Wastelanders: Star-Lord Emma Frost Voice, main role
2021–23 Queen of the Universe Herself/Judge
2022 Carpool Karaoke Herself Episode: "Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton & Amber Ruffin"
A Black Lady Sketch Show Delilah Episode: "It’s a New Day, Africa America!"
2023 American Experience Herself/Narrator Episode: "Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space"
RuPaul's Drag Race Herself Episode: "Grand Finale"[75]
Great Performances Herself Episode: "Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway's Best"


Year Title Role Venu
1994 Kiss of the Spider Woman Spider Woman/Aurora Replacement Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway debut
2002 Into the Woods The Witch Ahmanson Theatre, Pre-Broadway
Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
2010 Sondheim on Sondheim Performer Studio 54, Broadway
2013 The Trip to Bountiful Jessie Mae Watts Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Broadway
After Midnight Special Guest Star Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
2022 Anyone Can Whistle Cora Hoover Hooper Carnegie Hall
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive Margaret Shubert Theatre, Broadway


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Vanessa Williams Biography". Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Vanessa Williams on Her Faith". ABC News. 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Telegraph Reporters (September 14, 2015). "Miss America apologises to Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty star". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 11, 2022. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  4. ^ "African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee: William Alexander Feilds". State of Tennessee. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Who Do You Think You Are?: season 2, episode 1, Vanessa Williams (February, 2011)". Who Do You Think You Are?. February 4, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Helen Tinch Williams, mother of Vanessa Williams, to be honored by SUNY Fredonia". Observer (Dunkirk). November 10, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  7. ^ Wise, Brian (January 29, 2006). "An Appreciation; Remembering Milton Williams, A Mentor to Music Students". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  8. ^ "June 17, 2022 | LIVE with Kelly and Ryan". June 17, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Vanessa Williams Biography". Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Blust, Erica (May 5, 2008). "Vanessa Williams to deliver 2008 convocation address for College of Visual and Performing Arts, receive BFA degree". Syracuse University. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Vanessa Williams To Graduate From College This Weekend". Huffington Post. AP. May 14, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  12. ^ Johnson, Melinda (May 10, 2008). "Vanessa Williams gets Syracuse University degree". Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Hobson, Louis B. (August 16, 1998), "Vanessa dancing up a storm" Archived July 11, 2012, at,
  14. ^ a b "Vanessa Williams: Boomtown's New Bombshell!". TV Guide. September 2, 2003. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Singleton, Don (September 18, 1983). "Vanessa Williams is crowned the first African-American Miss America in 1983". Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  16. ^ "A New York Debut". People. Archived from the original on January 18, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  17. ^ Wilson, Julee (September 17, 2012). "A Look Black: Vanessa Williams Crowned Miss America In 1983". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  18. ^ Rogers, Katie (September 14, 2015). "Vanessa Williams Returns to Miss America and Receives an Apology". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  19. ^ Horn, Mark C. (April 7, 2018). "In Conversation with Vanessa Williams". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  20. ^ Snierson, Dan (October 7, 2007). "'Love Boat': A Fantastic Voyage". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  21. ^ "Vanessa Williams Emmy Award Winner".
  22. ^ "'Desperate Housewives' Scoop: Vanessa L. Williams Moving to Wisteria Lane!". Entertainment Weekly. May 18, 2010.
  23. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (May 4, 2016). "Vanessa Williams Joins TNT's 'The Librarians' Season 3". Variety. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  24. ^ "Vanessa Williams to Topline VH1's Star Jones Drama 'Satan's Sisters'". The Hollywood Reporter. March 2016.
  25. ^ a b FOX. "Vanessa Williams". Archived from the original on April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  26. ^ "Vanessa Williams Brings My Brother to Big Screen". Yahoo! Voices. March 14, 2007. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  27. ^ Hruska, Bronwen (June 19, 1996). "The 'Eraser' Effect Singer Vanessa Williams Hopes The New Schwarzenegger Film Will Wipe Away Doubts About Her Acting – As Well As Any Lingering Memories of Her Beauty-queen Fiasco". Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  28. ^ "Production On 'Hannah Montana: The Movie' Is Underway". May 22, 2008. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008.
  29. ^ Bruckner, D.J.R. (June 26, 1985). "Stage: 'One-Man Band,' at South Street Theater". NY Times. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  30. ^ Shirley, Don. "Stage Review: New Faces in 'Checkmates' in Westwood". LA Times. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  31. ^ Hershenson, Roberta (October 2, 1994). "Vanessa Williams, a Homespun 'Spider Woman'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  32. ^ Brantley, Ben (May 2, 1998). "Theater Review; The Birthright of Beauty: Free and Easy". NY Times. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  33. ^ Marks, Peter (November 18, 2002). "'Carmen Jones,' Chilled and Well Served Its Star". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
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Awards and achievements Preceded byDebra Maffett Miss America 1984 Succeeded bySuzette Charles Preceded byEileen Clark Miss New York 1983 Succeeded byMelissa Manning