In 1983, Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America 1984, making history as the first black woman to win the title. During her reign, and without her consent, Penthouse Magazine acquired and published photos of Williams taken before she was named Miss America. After receiving pressure from the Miss America organization, Williams resigned at a press conference weeks before the end of her year-long reign. Williams is now sharing her story for the small screen, reports Deadline. Sony Pictures Television is set to develop a limited series based on his account. Neil Meron (Hairspray!) will be the executive producer.
“This project is incredibly personal to me,” Williams told Deadline. “There are so many inaccurate and false accounts of events surrounding this time in my life, and as a mother and as a black woman, it is important to me that my truth be told and documented from my perspective. It’s not just a story of racy photos, it’s misogyny and racism and I want to bring that to light for future generations. I was not only able to survive what could have been a career-ending scandal, but I managed to overcome it and did a job that I am extremely proud of.”
Mark Nicholson, Stephen Roseberry and Jon Carrasco of Encore Endeavor 1 (a subsidiary of Kathy Ireland Worldwide), and attorney Martin Singer, who has worked with Williams for many years, join Meron as executive producers. Steve Glick, executive vice president of content and broadcast for EE1, has signed on as producer.
A story of triumph
Williams, not letting the scandal dampen her motivation, became an award-winning musician and actress. From 2006 to 2010, she received praise for her portrayal of Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty, receiving three Emmy nominations for his work on the series. After the beloved show ended, Williams starred in the seventh season of Desperate Housewives. His feature film credits include soul foodwhich won her the NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, the critically acclaimed independent film My brotherthe 2000 reboot of Rod, Rubberand Hannah Montana: The Movieamong others.
Since 1988, Williams has released eight studio records, earning 11 Grammy nominations. colors of the windher Disney single Pocahontas, won Williams an Oscar, a Grammy and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Although she hasn’t released an album since 2009 the real thingshe is about to record her ninth album.
Williams recently starred in POTUSa Broadway comedy and completed filming for Paramount+ queen of the universe.
“It has been almost 40 years since Vanessa was crowned Miss America – the first African-American woman to win the crown in the pageant’s history. Her historic victory, unfortunately, was tainted by the greed of people who did not care the consequences of their actions on Vanessa’s life, her family and our country. We look forward to working with Vanessa, Neil, Mark and Sony to bring this inspiring story of heroism and determination to the screen,” said Jon Carrasco and Stephen Roseberry, Creative Director of Encore Endeavor 1 and Kathy Ireland Worldwide and President/CMO of Encore Endeavor 1 and Kathy Ireland Worldwide, respectively.
In 2015, Williams returned to the Miss America stage as chief judge for their 2016 pageant. During that evening’s presentation, the organization’s CEO, Sam Haskell, issued a public apology to Williams. saying :
“On behalf of today’s organization, I would like to apologize to you and your mother, Miss Helen Williams. I would like to apologize for anything that has been said or done that has caused you feeling less like the Miss America you are or the Miss America you will always be.”