She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, TV and the big screen. Now, Vanessa Williams is starring in the breakout hit comedy, Ugly Betty! Gayle talks to Vanessa about her career, family and relationships.
In Ugly Betty, Vanessa plays Wilhelmina Slater, a wicked, self-absorbed fashion diva. Vanessa says she loves playing Wilhelmina and working with the show's cast. Although she commutes from her home in New York to the show's set in Los Angeles, Vanessa says juggling her work and her family is worth it. "At 43 years old and not really doing television, in terms of a weekly gig, it's a fantastic show to be on. It's like being a part of another world. … The ensemble is great—about 80 percent of us are all from New York so we're all transplanted out here and a lot of us have theater backgrounds so it's like doing a show every week."
Vanessa also talks about her career on the stage. She first gained fame 23 years ago, when she was crowned Miss America—she later resigned after it was discovered she had posed in Penthouse. Vanessa says it was a moment that changed her life, but ironically, she never had any intention of being a beauty queen at all. "My intention was to finish college, go to Yale and then come to New York to beat the streets," she says. "I was a musical theater major at school, so I danced and sang and acted and Broadway was my goal." Since then, she has been nominated for more than a dozen Grammy awards for her music and has starred on Broadway in such hits as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Into the Woods.
Besides her career, Vanessa says she stays busy raising her four children—her oldest is in college and her youngest is in second grade! Vanessa says her busy schedule makes it tough to date, but that she maintains great relationships with the men in her life. "I talk to my exes on a daily basis not only because we have kids together, but [because] they're a part of your life and they're really happy for things that are going well." She says she doesn't necessarily want to get married again. "I would be open to it … [but] I've got a lot on my plate and it's not really necessary for me financially or relationship-wise," she says. "I've been alone for a while and if it happens, it's fine but it's a lot of work!"