In 1983, Vanessa Williams made history when she was crowned the first African-American Miss America.
Entertainer Vanessa Lynn Williams was born on March 18, 1963, in Bronx, New York. Williams’s parents, Milton and Helen, both worked as music educators.
Though she thought she might place in the top 10, Williams didn’t think it would go further than that. “So I just basically was there to have a good time, I really did not think that I would win because I didn’t think that it was the time,” Williams says. “There had never been a black Miss America, so why would it be this year? If so, possibly I knew that I had what it took, but I didn’t think they’d actually go for it.”
With plans to become the first African-American Rockette, she studied classical and jazz dance as well as theatre arts. She also excelled at French horn, piano, and violin. A natural performer and outgoing student, Williams was a high achiever who landed the Presidential Scholarship for Drama at graduation and gained entry into the Carnegie Mellon University theater arts program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although she was only one of 12 students accepted into Carnegie Mellon’s program that year, Williams decided to attend Syracuse University in upstate New York instead.
During the summer of her freshman year at Syracuse, 19-year-old Williams took a job as a receptionist and makeup artist for local photographer Tom Chiapel. Chiapel frequently arranged photo-shoots involving female nudes, and when the photographer expressed interest in using Williams as a model, she took the chance. Williams sat for two sessions with Chiapel, followed by a third session with another photographer in New York City. Dissatisfied with the provocative nature of the third photos, she asked for the negatives and thought they had been destroyed.
Continue Reading: Vanessa Williams – Biography – Actress, Singer – Biography …
Keep an eye on the tall gentlemen in the black suit and shades right behind Vanessa staring at 1:40. The way he steps right into the choreography is real smooth.One of my favorite dance clips of all time.
Having an natural strong presence that oozes out on camera is rare. He should have been an actor. Because of his look, I’m sure he’ll be stereotyped and play all the bad guy roles.