Vanessa Williams received death threats as first black Miss America
Last Modified: Dec 4, 2020
Vanessa Williams was the first black woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983, but not all were happy to see diversity.
The 57-year-old beauty queen turned singer and actress shared on The Fat Joe Show, “I won [Miss Syracuse], Miss New York State and Miss America all within six months, so I went from my junior year [at Syracuse University] to all of a sudden, I was the first Black Miss America in 1983. And I had death threats because we’re talking 37 years ago.”
But a lot of people did not like her representing diversity in the USA, “A lot of people don’t like to be confronted with diversity, and I was the symbol of that, so I had to prove that I was smart enough. I was talented enough.”
However, in her late-term, she gave up the crown after Penthouse infamously published nude photos of her that had been taken in 1982.
“After being Miss America, there was an issue with some pictures I had done, which did not have a release and they were sold behind my back. Six weeks before I was finishing my year [as Miss America], I resigned,” Williams who is now a mother of four, including signer Jillian Hervey, said.
After Miss America, she went to work in the entertainment industry as a successful actress, singer, and now a fashion designer.
“I never wanted to be a beauty queen — and, of course, I never wanted to be a scandalized beauty queen. So, I had so much judgment from a very early age against me,” the former Miss America added. “I heard a lot of noes, and all the people thought I would just disappear. And I thought, ‘Once the dust settles, you’ll get to know who I really am.’ And, that’s how I live my life.”