What happened to Vanessa Williams in 1983 would never happen today, but the multi-hyphenate was still able to get through her scandalous past all because she believed in herself!
For those who don’t know, the now-58-year-old became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America when she won the competition in 1983. However, her reign was cut short when Penthouse magazine published unauthorized nude photos of her, prompting pageant bosses to force her to resign.
The pageant issued a retroactive apology to Williams not even six years ago, but at the time of the scandal, the performer only had herself to rely on to keep her career afloat. She reflected to Page Six:
“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 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.”
While such a scandal might make some people give up on their dreams, Vanessa worked even harder — and eventually, she built a successful career as a singer and actress, including roles on Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty.
Now that she has three grown daughters of her own, Williams said she realizes how much toxicity she had to endure when she was a young woman. She said:
“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.”
Momma really fought for her career!
Williams echoed the same sentiments during an interview with ET back in March, explaining how winning the title at just 20 years old made her “grow up overnight.” She told the outlet:
“I really wasn’t prepared because I’d never been a part of the system before, so I didn’t know what was the next step. It was a tremendous history-making moment for me at 20 years old. And I look at my kids at 20 and I said, ‘Oh my god, how did I handle all of that at such a young age?’ Because I was a baby!”
The New York native went on to confess that the title not only came with “tons of responsibility,” but, because of her skin color, some scary situations as well. She said:
“Lots of assumptions, death threats. I was in a bubble. I grew up in New York, I had a multicultural community around me. So to see the division in our country and the hate of me representing America and having the hate just because of my skin color was alarming. When you have sharpshooters in your homecoming town parade because you’re getting death threats at 20 years old, that was startling. So it made me grow up overnight.”
And that was before she lost her title!
We’re so inspired by Vanessa’s tenacity despite her ups and many, many downs. What do U think of her story, Perezcious readers?
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