Vanessa Williams ’85 has sold over 15 million albums worldwide and achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film, and on television. Her albums The Right Stuff, The Comfort Zone, and The Sweetest Days earned multiple Grammy nominations and include such hits as “Save the Best For Last,” “Dreamin,” “Work To Do,” and “Love Is,” and the Academy Award-winning single “Colors of the Wind,” from Disney’s Pocahontas, among many others.
Her recordings also include Vanessa Williams Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years, Everlasting Love, and two holiday albums, Star Bright, and Silver & Gold. Her album The Real Thing debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Charts in June 2009, and she received an NAACP nomination for “Outstanding Jazz Artist.”
In 1994, Williams replaced Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman, to critical acclaim. She garnered rave reviews and was nominated for a Tony Award for the 2002 revival of Into the Woods. She also headlined a limited special engagement of the classic, Carmen Jones, at the Kennedy Center and starred in the Encore! Series staged concert production of St. Louis Woman. She performed to rave reviews in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Broadway musical Sondheim on Sondheim.
After making her film debut in 1986 in Under the Gun, Williams has starred in such features as Eraser, Hoodlum, Soul Food, Dance with Me, Light It Up, Shaft, Johnson Family Vacation, My Brother, and Somebody Like You, and co-starred in Disney’s feature film Hannah Montana: The Movie.
On television, Williams has starred in such movies and mini-series as Stompin’ at the Savoy; The Boy Who Loved Christmas; The Jacksons: An American Dream; ABC’s revival of Bye, Bye Birdie; Nothing Lasts Forever; The Odyssey; Don Quixote; and Keep the Faith, Baby. She executive produced and starred in Lifetime’s The Courage to Love and the VH1 original movie, A Diva’s Christmas Carol.
Williams starred in ABC’s critically acclaimed hit series, Ugly Betty, earning three Emmy nominations, in addition to numerous individual and ensemble awards and nominations, including Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and NAACP Image awards. The International Press Academy honored her with their prestigious Mary Pickford Award for her career achievements and contributions to the entertainment industry over the past 27 years. In 2010, she moved to Wisteria Lane as the newest resident on ABC’s Desperate Housewives.
An alumna of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Williams achieved a career pinnacle in 2007 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her charitable endeavors include the support of such organizations as Special Olympics and many others.