Before Vanessa Williams had a No. 1 hit song or an Emmy nod for her work on ‘Ugly Betty,’ she was Miss America 1984. Now, three decades after she gave up the title due to a nude photo scandal, Vanessa will return as a judge of the 95th Miss America Pageant.
Welcome back, Vanessa Williams, 52. Over thirty years ago, Vanessa was the first African-American crowned as Miss America, but resigned from the post after nude photos of her were published in Penthouse. Yikes! Now, the “Save the Best for Last” singer is making her triumphant return to the pageant that made her famous!
All hail Vanessa! The Desperate Housewives actress confirmed her return to the beauty contest on Sept. 8, reports US Weekly. She will be one of the judges during the pageant on Sept. 13, coming back after she was forced to give up the claim to her own Miss America title!
Vanessa became the first ever African-American to win Miss America in 1983. However, ten months after her win, nude photos of Vanessa were published in the Sept. 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine. These pictures were from 1982, a year before she won the beauty competition, and were sold to the magazine without her consent. Ugh. Vanessa resigned as Miss America because of the scandal, but she was allowed to keep the crown. Now, after more than three decades since the controversy, she will be welcomed back with open arms by the beauty pageant. Hooray!
In an interview with Good Morning America, set to air on Sept. 10, Vanessa said that the scandal haunted her for many years. Vanessa in Penthouse and Vanessa as Miss America were “two drastically different images. That was the issue. It was Miss America, who’s really kind of untouched in that reality.”
“And then there was this woman in a picture – that was exactly the polar opposite of purity,” Vanessa added, reflecting on the Penthouse pictorial. “And I was a normal kid in the middle.” That “normal kid” will now be in the middle of the judging panel. Vanessa will join fellow judges Brett Eldredge, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Taya Kyle, Amy Purdy and Zendaya when the show broadcasts on ABC on Sept. 13.
Are you excited that Vanessa is returning to Miss America, HollywoodLifers? Are you going to watch the pageant?
— Jason Brow