Vanessa Williams recalls receiving death threats as first black Miss America in 1983
Vanessa Williams has recalled the moment she made history as the first black Miss America in 1983, revealing she received death threats.
Speaking on The Fat Joe Show, the actor explained how she won several beauty pageants within a very short space of time.
“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," she said.
“And I had death threats because we’re talking 37 years ago. 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.”
Williams relinquished her title as Miss America towards the end of her reign after the magazine Penthouse published nude photographs of her that had been shot the previous year.
“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," Williams said.
“Six weeks before I was finishing my year [as Miss America], I resigned.”
The Ugly Betty star went on to say how she didn’t have any ambitions to compete in beauty pageants when she was growing up.
“I never wanted to be a beauty queen - and, of course, I never wanted to be a scandalized beauty queen," she said.
"So, I had so much judgment from a very early age against me. I heard a lot of nos, 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.”
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