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A New Chapter for Vanessa Williams

A New Chapter for Vanessa Williams

If you visit Vanessa Williams’ Instagram profile, you’ll notice that her bio reads, “Always more #worktodo.” It’s a fitting mantra for the Ugly Betty actress and Grammy-nominated singer; at 61, Williams is entering a new chapter of her career with the release of her first single in 15 years, “Legs (Keep Dancing).” 


“Always more #worktodo.”

The song’s release comes after a long history of success in the entertainment world. At 20 years old, Williams won the 1984 Miss America pageant, becoming the first African-American woman to do so. Despite resigning her title after a controversy surrounding a nude photoshoot in Penthouse magazine, she launched her music career in 1988 with the studio album The Right Stuff to modest success. The album earned her three Grammy nominations, the first of 11 that Williams has accumulated over the course of her career. 

Vanessa Williams poses behind the mixing board as she creates her debut album in 1988.
Williams launched her music career in 1988 with the studio album The Right Stuff which earned her three Grammy nominations. / Vanessa Williams via Instagram

That same year, Williams appeared on the ABC show The Love Boat, the first of many of the actress’ film and television appearances. In 2006, Williams took on a role as the cunning Wilhemina Slater in the hit show Ugly Betty. Williams’ portrayal of the power-hungry magazine editor earned her media acclaim and three Emmy nominations. 

In the meantime, Williams was also making a name for herself on the stage. In 1985, she made her theater debut in a production of One Man Band.  Her Broadway debut came in 1994 when she replaced Chita Rivera in the role of Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman. In 2002, Williams was nominated for a Tony award for her performance as the Witch in a revival production of Into the Woods.

Vanessa Williams poses in costume for the 1984 production of "One Man Band."
Vanessa Williams poses in costume for the 1985 production of One Man Band. / Vanessa Williams via Instagram

Since then, Williams has starred in a number of Broadway and West End productions. In February of this year, Williams announced her casting as Miranda Priestly in the upcoming London production of The Devil Wears Prada musical adaptation. She is also on the producing team of A Wonderful World, a musical following the life of jazz legend Louis Armstrong, which will open on Broadway this fall.

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Vanessa Williams on set for rehearsals of "The Devil Wears Prada" musical adaptation opening in London later this year.
Vanessa Williams on set for rehearsals of The Devil Wears Prada musical adaptation opening in London later this year. / Vanessa Williams via Instagram

And, if her schedule wasn’t packed enough already, Williams is on the road to releasing her ninth studio album, of which “Legs” is the first single. She launched her own record label, Mellian Group Inc., to do so, and is steadfast in her resolve to continue moving her music career of 40 years forward. 

“Every challenge is exciting,” she shared on her website. “And more new music to share with my fans is the fuel that lights my fire.”

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