A woman of many faces and talents, a woman who not only demands respect but also has earned it. She has conquered the musical charts, the big screen and the stages of Broadway. However, she demands to be seen as a person and not just as a star. Now the story of a woman, who has not only captured the hearts of millions, but has also defied the rules and boundaries of people everywhere.
When you look at a celebrity it is often imagine that their whole lives were perfect, is is sometimes hard to imagine that these people who are "sitting on top of the world" ever wanted for anything, ever needed anything. However, despite the glamour and the "high life" they may be living now, chances are it was not always the case.
Vanessa Williams, born on March 18th of 1963, grew up in a small town in upstate New York called Millwood. Her parent, Milton and Helen Williams, were both music teachers and encouraged Vanessa in her musical studies. She also has a younger brother by 4 years, Christopher. It is said that Vanessa was born to be on the stage, to perform, to "show the world what she can do" and throughout her career she has done nothing less than just that.
As a child, Vanessa began with playing instruments such as the Piano and the French Horn. However, it was not long after that her parents began noticing there was so much more she could do. After really listening to Vanessa sing, they knew their daughter has something special to offer the world. Therefore, Vanessa began performing in school plays and things of this sort.
Vanessa began growing into a mature and beautiful woman, physically and musically. Attending Syracuse University, Vanessa began majoring in musical theater and started showing off more musical talent than anyone imagined she had. As her beauty grew and her voice became more and more outstanding people around her began to notice it. Her friends and her family would even say she possessed a certian spark that other people she was around did not. Soon enough Vanessa, sought out by scouts, found out about the "Miss Syracuse" pageant. As the scount continuously offered her a possition in the contest Vanessa began to consider it. Seeing as how the theater show Vanessa was schedualed for canceled, Vanessa decided she would enter the pageant simply for "book money" or some extra money to put toward her education. Little did she know that decision would change her life forever.
As if there was any doubt, Vanessa won the "Miss Syracuse" pageant and went on to become "Miss New York" in the well awaited Miss America pageant, 1984. Vanessa graced the stage a long with 49 other beautiful women, women considered to be the best in their state, therefore the best in the United States. Taking hold of categories such as the interview, swimsuit and talent, she went on to win the title of Miss America 1984. "Now she belongs to the world," says best friend Diane Sims. "Initially I was sad because she meant so much to me." Winning this contest was a great honor for Vanessa, being the first black Miss America however; it also brought to her life fear. Fear not only for her own life but fear also for her family's. She knew and was constantly reminded that the people of the black race did not want her known as the "First African American Miss America" because to them she was not black enough. In the same hand, she was hated by the people of the white culture because to them she had taken the crown from the many white women on the stage who, in their eyes, deserved it much more.
So it is no surprise that Vanessa would often hear things such as: "she was chosen because they changed the lighting on the stage to make everyone look lighter than they really are" or "they choose her because they needed better ratings." It were comments like this that would make Vanessa herself sometimes feel as if she would want to be done with it all, to give it all up. It was not soon after that she would be forced to give it all up anyway. As a teenager, Vanessa worked as a photographers assistant/secretary, however she considered the photographer a personal friend of hers. Somewhere along the line, he had persuaded her to take a few nude pictures that would be just between her and him and would never be seen otherwise. Years later, Vanessa's trust would be betrayed and those same pictures would be sold over to Penthouse magazine who published them.
This was costing Vanessa her crown.
For a while she felt down, as anyone would, she had made a mistake and the mistake had been made public to the world. She had been humiliated, constantly threatened and you could even say she had hit rock bottom. However, Vanessa was down but not out, she kept her head up and stuck to the motto "once you hit rock bottom the only place to go is up" and instead of sulking in her problem she decided not to let it drag her down but instead grow stronger from it. Knowing she still had the talent though she may have the same respect, she began a new life. She hired a man named Ramon Hervey to be her manager and together they shot Vanessa straight back to the top.
Today, Vanessa has not only has 14 Grammy Nominations, won over 30 awards from things such as Soul Train awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards (to name a few), but she has also conquered "The Big Screen" with movies such as Soul Food, Eraser and Dance With Me. She has overcome the TV screen with made-for-tv-movies such as Bye Bye Birdie and The Courage to Love. Lastly, she has made her life long dream come true and performed on none other than Broadway in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
As if all the were not enough she also raised a family of 4 children: Melanie (June of '87), Jillian (June of '89) and Devin (April '93), and her youngest daughter with new husband, Rick Fox, Sasha Gabriella (May 2000). Despite her divorce to former manager, Ramon Hervey, she has remarried with Rick Fox of the LA Lakers. In 1990/2000 she was starring in and executive producing the Lifetime Movie The Courage to Love. This is how Vanessa turned her trials into triumphs. She may be a singer, dancer, actress and so much more but first and foremost she is a mother, a wife and a friend to the people closest to her. That is possibly the most amazing thing behind this hazel eyed beauty, this woman of wonder, basically this strong human being.