Vanessa Williams

Actress, singer Vanessa Williams, of the hit ABC TV series "Ugly Betty," poses inside during the 25th Anniversary of the Annual CFDA Fashion Awards held at the New York Public Library June 4, 2007 in New York City.
GETTY IMAGES/Evan Agostini
She was just 20 years old when she made history - the first African-American to become Miss America. Ten months later, she made a different kind of history when she was forced to resign her crown because a photographer who had pictures of her posing nude went public with them.

That would have been enough to qualify her as an answer on "Jeopardy." But Vanessa Williams has gone way beyond that footnote and sustained a successful career as a singer, a model and an actress on stage, on film, and especially on television. She's now even more firmly placed in popular culture as the evil, scheming fashion diva Wilhelmina Slater in "Ugly Betty," the acclaimed ABC series that begins its second season in the fall.

Williams' Emmy nomination for the role is just the latest recognition she has received in an unusually varied career.


Photos: Vanessa, From Vanguard To Villain
She has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards since her 1988 debut album, "The Right Stuff" and has sold millions of records.

She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the 2002 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Into The Woods," as the witch, which she has told interviewers was good practice for her role in "Ugly Betty." She has also appeared in some dozen Hollywood movies and guest-starred in dozens of TV series and made-for-TV movies such as "The Jacksons: An American Dream."

Williams, a twice-divorced mother of four children, is expected to have a reunion with her second ex-husband, former NBA player Rick Fox, on TV. He reportedly will be playing Wilhelmina's bodyguard in "Ugly Betty."