Vanessa L. Williams

Vanessa Lynn Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American actress and singer. She is well known for her role as Teri Joseph in the 1997 feature film Soul Food, and the television characters Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty and Renee Perry in Desperate Housewives, both have which aired on ABC and Courtney Paige in The Good Wife on CBS.

In 1983, Williams became the first African American woman to win the title of Miss America (Miss America 1984). Williams was forced to resign a few weeks prior to the end of her reign on July 22, 1984 due to a scandal surrounding the publication of unauthorized nude photographs in Penthouse magazine. In 2015, 32 years after being crowned and during the Miss America 2016 pageant (where she was serving as head judge), Miss America CEO Sam Haskell apologized to Williams for what was said to her during the events of 1984.

After her resignation as Miss America in 1984, Williams rebounded with a successful career in the entertainment industry. Her work as an actor on television and in film earned her multiple Emmy nominations and a Tony Award nomination. She likewise received a number of Grammy nominations for her work in the music industry, including hits such as “The Right Stuff,” “Save the Best for Last,” “Colors of the Wind,” and “Oh How the Years Go By.” Finally, Williams is the recipient of 7 NAACP Image Awards and 3 Satellite Awards.

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