The ever-iconic Vanessa Williams spoke to Page Six about the 1983 scandal that derailed her career for many years. You might recall that, at the time, she was the first black woman to be crowned Miss America. However, weeks before her reign ended, she was forced by pageant bosses to resign when Penthouse magazine published unauthorized nude photos of her.
The fallout was swift, as she faced a harsh, conservative backlash. Rather than let it ruin her career, she spent the next decade methodically building up a successful career as a singer and actress, including stints on Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives. She is also known for her signature song “Save the Best for Last.”
She now says she was able to survive due to a rock-solid belief in herself.
“I think I was really centered in knowing I know who I am and I’ll get there, and once the dust settles, you’ll see”
“And also distancing [myself] from the two opposite symbols of Miss America and a scandalized beauty queen and me being a normal kid in the middle who was a junior in college.”
Williams revealed that having three grown daughters made her realize how much ugliness she had been forced to deal with when barely out of her teens.
“Having kids and seeing my kids at the age of 20 and seeing my kids and realizing not only was I famous but all the stuff I had to manage and accept and fight through,” she explained.