Vanessa L. Williams

Actress + Singer and Former Miss America
Born Mar 18, 1963

Vanessa Lynn Williams is an American singer, actress and former fashion model. In 1983, she became the first American woman with African American ancestry to be crowned Miss America, but a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published nude photographs of her. She relinquished her title early and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Suzette Charles of New Jersey.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Vanessa L. Williams.


1963 Birth Born on March 18, 1963.


1981 18 Years Old Williams studied piano and French horn growing up, but was most interested in singing and songwriting. She graduated in 1981 from Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, received a scholarship and attended Syracuse University as a Musical Theatre Arts major from 1981 to 1983. … Read More
1982 19 Years Old The black-and-white photos dated back to 1982 (the year before she won the Miss America Pageant), when she worked as an assistant and makeup artist for Mount Kisco, New York photographer Tom Chiapel. … Read More


1983 20 Years Old 1 More Event
Williams competed in the Miss Syracuse (University) beauty pageant when a campus musical she was in was canceled in 1983.
She was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983, becoming the first African American to win the title. … Read More
1985 22 Years Old After days of media frenzy and sponsors threatening to pull out of the upcoming 1985 pageant, Williams felt pressured by Miss America Pageant officials to resign, and did so in a press conference on July 23, 1984.
1987 24 Years Old Williams has been married three times. Her first marriage, to public relations consultant Ramon Hervey II, was from 1987 to 1997. … Read More
1988 25 Years Old 1 More Event
Williams released her debut album The Right Stuff in 1988, which spawned the hits "The Right Stuff", a No. 1 on Hot Dance Songs, and "Dreamin'", a No. 1 on R&B and No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100. … Read More


In 1994 she debuted on Broadway in the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman.
1995 32 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1995 she recorded "Colors of the Wind", the Oscar-winner for Best Original Song from the Disney animated feature film Pocahontas, and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. … Read More
1997 34 Years Old She played the nymph Calypso in the 1997 Hallmark Entertainment miniseries The Odyssey, starring Armand Assante. … Read More
2001 38 Years Old In 2001, Williams starred in the Lifetime cable movie about the life of Henriette DeLille, The Courage to Love.


2003 40 Years Old 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.
2006 43 Years Old 1 More Event
In early 2006 she starred in the short-lived UPN drama South Beach.
2008 45 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2008 and 2009, she was again nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for Ugly Betty. … Read More
2011 48 Years Old …  Williams is a supporter of gay rights and same sex marriage and in 2011, she participated in a HRC campaign entitled “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality".
In a commercial that began running during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, Williams voiced the new character Ms. Brown, a brown M&M. … Read More


2014 51 Years Old 1 More Event
Starting April 1, 2014, Williams will be a special guest star of the Broadway musical After Midnight at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. … Read More
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