Vanessa Williams first garnered public attention in the early '80s when she won the title of Miss America 1984, becoming the first African-American woman to win the crown in the history of the pageant. However, her reign as queen was cut short after unauthorized nude photos of her appearing in an issue of Penthouse Magazine forced her to resign her title, because sponsors were threatening to pull their ads from the next year’s pageant.

She slipped off the radar for the next few years, as those with controversies surrounding them often do, but popped back up on the scene in 1988 to rebound as a singer—a move that served her very well, as she had numerous singles that charted on the Top 10, and even earned her a handful of Grammy Award nominations. Additionally, she forayed into acting and found success there as well, playing opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1996's Eraser, then in Hoodlum and Soul Food before landing iconic roles in popular shows Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.