Vanessa Williams was born in New York City to two
teachers; she and her brother grew up in the suburbs of
NYC. Propheticly her parents put "Here she is Miss
America" on her birth announcement. (Entertainment
Tonight December 11 2005) She received a scholarship and
attended Syracuse University, but later dropped out of
college to pursue a career in entertainment.
Until the late 1990s, Vanessa Lynn Williams was known simply as "Vanessa Williams". However, she lost a Screen Actors Guild decision that ruled that actress Vanessa A. Williams used the name first.
Vanessa Williams managed to rise above the Miss America scandal and become a popular singer with her 1988 debut album, The Right Stuff, which reached gold status and earned her three Grammy Award nominations, including one for Best New Artist. Her most notable songs include "Dreamin'", "Running Back To You", "Save The Best For Last", "Love Is", "The Sweetest Days", "Colors of the Wind", and "Oh How The Years Go By". Throughout her career, Williams has sold six million records and received fifteen Grammy nominations.
In 2005, Vanessa Williams released her eighth studio album, Everlasting Love, a collection of covers of her favorite 1970s songs.
Billboard Hot 100 Chart History
- "The Right Stuff" - July 23, 1988 - 10 weeks - #44
- "Dreamin'" - January 7, 1989 - 20 weeks - #8
- "Darlin' I" - June 3, 1989 - 4 weeks - #88
- "Running Back to You" - August 10, 1991 - 21 weeks - #18
- "The Comfort Zone - December 7, 1991 - 12 weeks - #62
- "Save the Best for Last" - February 1, 1992 - 27 weeks - #1 (for 5 weeks)
- "Just for Tonight" - May 23, 1992 - 19 weeks - #26
- "Work to Do" - September 26, 1992 - 11 weeks - #52
- "Love Is" (duet with Brian McKnight) - January 23, 1993 - 25 weeks - #3
- "The Sweetest Days" - November 12, 1994 - 23 weeks - #18
- "The Way That You Love" - May 6, 1995 - 7 weeks - #67
- "Colors of the Wind" - June 24, 1995 - 23 weeks - #4
- "Where Do We Go From Here" - July 13, 1996 - 14 weeks - #71
Vanessa Williams also made a splash into Hollywood
and became an acclaimed actress, with appearances in
films such as Eraser, co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,
and starring in movies such as 1997's Soul Food, for
which she won the Best Actress award at the NAACP Image
Awards, and 1998's Dance With Me. Her other movies
include 1997's Hoodlum opposite Laurence Fishburne,
2000's Shaft opposite Samuel L. Jackson and most
recently, 2004's Johnson Family Vacation alongside
Cedric the Entertainer.
In addition to her music, theater, and work on the silver screen, Vanessa Williams has starred in numerous made-for-TV movies, miniseries, and has appeared on hit shows including, The Love Boat, T.J. Hooker, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, LateLine, Ally McBeal and Boomtown. She has also appeared in a number of advertisements for Radio Shack, starting in 2001. Recently Williams has become the spokesmodel for Proactiv Solutions. She also will be starring in the upcoming UPN drama South Beach, which starts airing January 11, 2006.