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Vanessa Williams is an actress and singer known for her Miss America scandal and her roles on TV shows such as Ugly Betty.
Vanessa Williams made magic happen after releasing the Grammy-nominated single, "Save the Best for Last."
Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1984. Shortly thereafter a series of nude photographs surfaced causing a great scandal for Williams.
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She was allowed to keep her crown, her scholarship money and the official title of Miss America 1984. But Williams was asked not to attend the coronation of the 1984 Miss America, in which the previous Miss America traditionally passes her crown on to the new queen. Devastated, Williams decided not to return to school, and instead focused on putting the embarrassing incident in her past.
In the wake of the incident, it seemed that Williams would never have a legitimate career in Hollywood. The fallen beauty queen was largely ignored by the film industry, with the exception of a few TV sitcom appearances-and more than a few offers to star in adult films. A music career was also beginning to seem out of the question, as mainstream record companies were timid to embrace the entertainer's less-than-wholesome image. A lawsuit against Penthouse seemed fruitless after several months of litigation that seemed to go nowhere. Williams eventually dropped the $500 million suit against the company in order to move on with her life.
Believing the "best revenge is success," Williams persisted in cleaning up her tarnished image. With the help of public relations expert Ramon Hervey II, Williams managed to land a legitimate film role in the 1987 movie The Pick Up Artist, starring Molly Ringwald, Robert Downey, Jr. and Dennis Hopper. That same year, Williams and Hervey were married.
Hervey put Williams' career back on track, helping her to sign a recording contract with PolyGram, and supporting her through the release of her 1988 album, The Right Stuff. The album went gold, and three singles—"The Right Stuff," "He's Got the Look" and "Dreamin'" all made it into the top 10. Her debut album won her the title of Best New Female Artist award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that year, as well as three Grammy award nominations.
In 1991, Williams released her second album, The Comfort Zone. The album sold 2.2 million copies in the U.S., eventually going triple platinum. The single "Save the Best for Last," on the album jumped to No. 1 on the pop charts, staying there for five weeks. Critics also recognized the album, and Williams was tapped for five Grammy nominations. In 1993, her duet with R&B star Brian McKnight, "Love Is", also met with popularity. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts.
The Sweetest Days (1994), Williams' third album, experienced success as well, going platinum in the U.S., and garnering two Grammy Award nominations. Other popular singles included Williams' rendition of "Colors of the Wind," for Disney's Pocohontas animated film. The song became a hit in 1995, and earned Williams another Grammy nomination. All in all, Williams has received 16 Grammy nominations for her music career.
Williams has experienced equal success television and film. On the small screen, career highlights include her performance as Motown execute Suzanne de Passe in the TV movie The Jacksons – An American Dream (1992); a starring role as demanding boss Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty (2006 &8211; 2010); and a recurring role as Renee Filmore-Jones in the drama Desperate Housewives (2010).
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