Vanessa Williams Receives Apology During Miss America 32 Years After Nude Scandal: Watch
In 1983, Vanessa Williams was crowned as the first African-American winner of the annual Miss America pageant. Within a year, however, nude photos of the then-20-year-old, taken prior to the contest, came back to haunt her when they surfaced in the pages of Penthouse magazine. Williams was forced to resign from her Miss America duties in the aftermath.
It took 32 years, but last last night’s televised Miss America event was all about redemption for Williams. (Well, okay — it was also about crowning a winner for 2016: Betty Cantrell.) Not only was the entertainer a guest judge for the pageant’s latest round, she also performed the appropriately-titled song “Oh How The Years Go By.”
Following that, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell took to the stage and said to Vanessa, “You have lived your life in grace and in dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned. Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
Watch Vanessa Williams respond below.
Following her stint as Miss America in the ’80s, Williams went on to release eight albums, and racked up such Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 as “Dreamin,” Grammy-nominated chart-topper “Save The Best For Last,” “Love Is” from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack and the 1995 Academy Award winning “Colors Of The Wind,” from Disney’s animated film Pocahontas.
She also starred opposite Arnold Schwazenneger in 1996 action film Eraser and Vivica A. Fox in the 1997 classic Soul Food. Williams’ most notable turn, however, was as scheming Mode magazine creative director Wilhelmina Slater during the 2006 through 2010 run of ABC’s Ugly Betty — a role that earned her three Emmy nominations.
Kudos to the multi-talented Williams for, yet again, showing unquestionable grace when accepting the apology from the Miss America institution, no matter how many decades after the fact it took to finally come.