The public first heard of Vanessa Williams as Miss America, the first African-American to win the crown. But in the nearly quarter-century since then, Williams has become known for much more, most recently as devious fashion editor Wilhelmina Slater on the ABC series "Ugly Betty." Here, Williams sings the national anthem before Super Bowl XXX in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., in 1996.
Credit: Getty/Mike Powell
In "Ugly Betty," Vanessa Williams plays the creative director of Mode Magazine who schemes to become the editor-in-chief, a position that was rightfully hers until the boss appointed his son. In the picture at left, her assistant Mark, played by Michael Urie, shoots her forehead full of Botox.
Caught in the crossfire is the editor's assistant, Betty Suarez, the Betty of "Ugly Betty," played by America Ferrara, who spends hours being made up to look, well, ugly. Here are the two of them posing during the NAACP Image Awards in March 2007; both the series itself and Williams received awards.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Mark Davis
Forced to give up her Miss America crown in 1984 because of a nude photography session (prior to the contest), Williams released her first album in 1988, "The Right Stuff." The public agreed. She has sold millions of records and earned many Grammy nominations. Her albums include (clockwise from lower right) "Sweetest Days," "Love Songs," "Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years," "The Comfort Zone" and "Everlasting Love."
Williams has also appeared in some dozen motion pictures, including "Eraser" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the box office hit "Soul Food," and "Dance With Me," with Puerto Rican singer Chayanne, with whom she appeared at the premiere in Hollywood in 1998.
Credit: LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty
In March 2007, when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she was joined by all four of her children (Devin Hervey, Melanie Hervey, Jillian Hervey and Sasha Fox), as well as her mother Helen and her brother, the actor Chris Williams. Vanessa Williams has been married and divorced twice.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Charley Gallay
In 2007, Vanessa Williams was a presenter along with Robert Sean Leonard at the annual Tony Awards at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Williams has starred twice in musicals on Broadway; in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" in 1994, and in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Into The Woods," for which she received a Tony nomination.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Bryan Bedder
Vanessa Williams' Tony-nominated performance was as a witch; it's good practice, she's joked with interviewers, for her current role in "Ugly Betty."