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Vanessa Williams: Top 5 Moments

Rise to Fame

Vanessa Williams was born in 1963 in Millwood, New York. A classically trained singer, she has a background in musical theatre and pageantry. Her historic victory in the 1983 Miss America pageant was a groundbreaking moment as Williams was the very first African American woman to be crowned Miss America.

Following her win, she built a successful career as a singer and actress on stage and screen. She is celebrated not only for her contributions to the entertainment industry but also for her ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the pageant world and beyond.  

Save the Best for Last

Her hit single conveys themes of unrequited love and the idea that sometimes the best things in life come to those who wait. This song received critical acclaim, was nominated for several awards, and earned Vanessa Williams a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Considered a classic love ballad, her “Save the Best for Last” was featured in 6 films and is frequently included in compilation albums and romantic playlists.

Award-Winning Actress

Over the years, Vanessa Williams received several nominations and honors for her acting, including Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Her acting career has been marked by her versatility, charm, and ability to take on various roles in television, film, and Broadway.

What is your favorite Vanessa Williams role? You may have seen her in Ugly Betty (2006–2010), Eraser (1996), Desperate Housewives (2010–2012), or maybe The Good Wife (2012–2016)!

Broadway Debut

Vanessa Williams is no stranger to the stage. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 in the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman where she played Aurora (the Spider Woman herself). Her performance in this production showcased her singing and acting abilities and received positive reviews.

A few years later, she starred as the Witch in the 2002 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Her portrayal of this powerful character demonstrated her true versatility on Broadway. 

Endless Magic

If you haven’t seen Vanessa Williams by now, you may still have heard her voice. This endlessly talented woman has several connections to the Walt Disney Company. In the 1995 film Pocahontas, she voiced the iconic song “Colors of the Wind,” which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. She also provided the voices to Hera, the queen of the gods, in the animated series Hercules and Dr. Trudy Proud in The Proud Family. 

Detroit Symphony welcomes Vanessa Williams

Experience the prowess of Vanessa Williams yourself when she performs live with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, November 18–19.


November 18-19

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