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Williams, Vanessa 1969–

Vanessa Williams 1969–

Actor, singer

Famous for roles in such television shows as Melrose Place and Showtime's Soul Food, Vanessa Williams has become a prominent actress in Hollywood. Sometimes confused with Vanessa L. Williams, the former Miss America, Williams, who registered her name with the Screen Actor's Guild first, was not at all perturbed by someone else signing up with her name. “There's enough work for both of us,” she told Entertainment Weekly. A popular and talented actress in her own right, Williams has certainly been doing her best to make sure that reporters and fans—who have been wont in the past to credit the “other” Vanessa Williams with her resume of movies and television shows—know exactly who she is.

Williams was born on May 12, 1969, in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. When she was just 11 years old, she started training with the New York City Opera Children's Chorus. After that she attended the High School for the Performing Arts in New York City where she began taking part in plays and even acted in a few commercials. After high school she went on to get a bachelor's degree in theater and business management from Marymount Manhattan College. Before she headed west to start her television acting career Williams was seen in such New York theater productions as Death and the King's Horseman, Sarafina!, and Mule Bone.

Her first television acting jobs were bit roles on shows like Living Single and NYPD Blue. It was a recurring role on The Cosby Show, however, that brought her into notice. She was first seen as the character Jade Marsh and did such a good job that she was brought back to play the part again, and was eventually hired to play another recurring role, that of Cheryl Lovejoy. Since then she has played a variety of roles that emphasized her versatility on several different television programs, including A Different World, Law & Order, Malcolm & Eddie, Between Brothers, The Steve Harvey Show, Total Recall 2070, The Pretender, and Charmed.

Because of her work on The Cosby Show Williams attracted the attention of several Hollywood producers and the up-and-coming actress was eventually offered a role on the Aaron Spelling drama Melrose Place. Williams played the part of aerobics instructor Rhonda Blair for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. She was the first black person to “figure prominently as a regular on one of the recent slew of glamorous, youth-targeted TV shows,” according to Hollywood.com, but unfortunately her character was married off at the end of the second season and Williams left the show. At this same time Williams started acting in a number of smaller roles in feature films such as New Jack City (1991), starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, and Chris Rock, Candyman (1992), in which she played a protective single mother, Fatal Bond (1992), and the Spike Lee production Drop Squad (1994). With this impressive list of accomplishments behind her, Williams next spent some time in Spain singing on the Telecino channel in Madrid. When she returned to the United States she was offered the part on the series Murder One, playing Lila Marquette. Williams was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her work on the show, but her character was written out after only one season. After that she took a part on the television show Chicago Hope, playing Dr. Grace Carr, for which she was nominated for another NAACP Image Award.

Another string of movie roles followed, including such films as Mother (1996), Breakdown (1997)—a movie short that won an award at the Acapulco Black Film Festival for which Williams, who played the lead, won many accolades— Incognito (1999), and Punks (2000). In 2000, Williams became involved with the Showtime Original television drama, Soul Food. Ironically, the television series is based on the popular movie that starred Vanessa L. Williams, although the two women played different parts. The movie centered around the Joseph family, and when the center of the family, Mama Joe, dies the family has to struggle to keep together by continuing their Sunday night dinners. The television show started with the Joseph sisters grieving over their mother's death.

On the show, Williams played the middle of three sisters, Maxine Chadway—the one who was most like the sisters' mother and who has done the most to continue the tradition of Sunday dinners to keep the family close. The show became immediately popular, and Williams had no difficulty figuring out why. “Viewers have been so hungry for this kind of representation on television for so long,” she told Jet. Williams added, “It's by Black people, about Black people, and written by Black people…. It's an honest reflection of our people.” Williams received her third NAACP Image Award nomination for her work on the show.

In 2001, Williams became involved in an animated television series, Heavy Gear: The Animated Series, providing the voice of Sonja Briggs. She was also chosen as the 2001 Celebrity Spokesperson for the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program, and finally found the time to work on songs and poetry for her debut music album. Williams married Andre Wiseman and the couple had one son, Omar Tafari.

Williams worked on the Television series Soul Food, until the show left in the air in 2004. That same year, Showtime Networks debuted a short film “Dense” written and produced by Williams, detailing the struggles of a woman realizing that her relationship had been deteriorating. William's found only minor roles from 2005 to 2007, appearing in an episode of the television drama “Cold Case” and in minor roles on other television programs. In 2007, Williams landed a role alongside actor and comedian Eddie Murphy in “Nowhereland,” a film about an overworked executive who retreats into a fantasy world created by his young daughter.

Though often confused with her namesake, Vanessa A. Williams has developed into a talented actress, singer and producer with an impressive list of credentials. With a number of projects underway and a happy family life, Williams entered 2008 as an actress whose career had only just begun.

At a Glance …

Born on May 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, NY; married: Andre Wiseman; children: Omar Tafari. Education: High School of the Performing Arts; Marymount Manhattan College, B.A., Theater and Business Management.

Career: Actress: New Jack City, 1991; Fatal Bond, 1992; Candyman, 1992; Melrose Place, 1992-93; Drop Squad, 1994; Chicago Hope, 1996; Murder One, 1996; Mother, 1996; Breakdown, 1997; Incognito, 1999; Playing with Fire, 2000; Soul Food, 2000-04; Punks, 2000; Heavy Gear: The Animated Series, 2001; Baby of the Family, 2001; Boogeymen, 2001. TV Guest Appearances: A Different World, 1987; The Cosby Show, 1989, 1991; Law & Order, 1990; Living Single, 1995; NYPD Blue, 1995; Malcolm & Eddie, 1996; Between Brothers, 1997; The Steve Harvey Show, 1998; Total Recall 2070, 1999; Charmed, 2000. Theater actress: Death and the King's Horseman, Sarafina!, and Mule Bone.; writer, producer “Dense,” 2004; actress, “Nowhereland,” 2008.

Awards: NAACP Image Award nominations, for Murder One, 1996, for Chicago Hope, 1997, for Soul Food, 2001, 2004, and 2005; NAACP Image Awards, for Soul Food; 2003; Daytime Emmy nomination, for Our America, 2003.

Addresses: c/o Showtime Networks, Inc., A Viacom Company, 1633 E. Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

Sources

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, May 29, 1992, p. 16.

Jet, January 22, 2001; August 6, 2001, p. 44.

Online

www.hollywood.com.

www.imdb.com.

www.paramount.com.

www.sho.com.

—Catherine Victoria Donaldson

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"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/williams-vanessa-1969-0

"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/williams-vanessa-1969-0

Williams, Vanessa 1969–

Vanessa Williams 1969

Actress, singer

At a Glance

Sources

Famous for roles in such television shows as Melrose Place and Showtimes Soul Food, Vanessa Williams has become a prominent actress in Hollywood. Sometimes confused with Vanessa L. Williams, the former Miss America, Williams, who registered her name with the Screen Actors Guild first, was not at all perturbed by someone else signing up with her name. Theres enough work for both of us, she told Entertainment Weekly. A popular and talented actress in her own right, Williams has certainly been doing her best to make sure that reporters and fanswho have been wont in the past to credit the other Vanessa Williams with her resume of movies and television showsknow exactly who she is.

Williams was born on May 12, 1969, in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. When she was 11 years old, she started training with the New York City Opera Childrens Chorus. After that she attended the High School for the Performing Arts in New York City where she began taking part in plays and even acted in a few commercials. After high school she went on to get a bachelors degree in theater and business management from Marymount Manhattan College. Before she headed west to start her television acting career Williams was seen in such New York theater productions as Death and the Kings Horseman, Sarafina!, and Mule Bone.

Her first television acting jobs were bit roles on shows like Living Single and NYPD Blue. It was a recurring role on The Cosby Show, however, that brought her into notice. She was first seen as the character Jade Marsh and did such a good job that she was brought back to play the part again, and was eventually hired to play another recurring role, that of Cheryl Lovejoy. Since then she has played a variety of roles that emphasized her versatility on several different television programs, including A Different World, Law & Order, Malcolm & Eddie, Between Brothers, The Steve Harvey Show, Total Recall 2070, The Pretender, and Charmed.

Because of her work on The Cosby Show Williams attracted the attention of several Hollywood producers and the up-and-coming actress was eventually offered a role on the Aaron Spelling drama Melrose Place. Williams played the part of aerobics instructor Rhonda Blair for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. She was the first black person to figure prominently as a regular on one of the recent slew of glamorous, youth-targeted TV

At a Glance

Born on May 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, NY; married: Andre Wiseman; children: Omar Tafari. Education: High School of the Performing Arts; Marymount Manhattan College, B.A., Theater and Business Management.

Career: Actress: New Jack City, 1991; Fatai Bond, 1992; Candyman, 1992; Melrose Place, 199293; Drop Squad, 1994; Chicago Hope, 1996; Murder One, 1996; Mother, 1996; Breakdown, 1997; Incognito, 1999; Playing with Fire, 2000; Soul Food, 2000; Punks, 2000; Heavy Gear: The Animated Series, 2001; Baby of the Family, 2001; Boogeymen, 2001. TV Guest Appearances: A Different World, 1987; The Cosby Show, 1989, 1991; Law & Order, 1990; Living Single, 1995; NYPD Blue, 1995; Malcolm & Eddie, 1996; Between Brothers, 1997; The Steve Harvey Show, 1998; Total Recall 2070, 1999; Charmed, 2000. Theater actress: Death and the Kings Horseman, Sarafina!, and Mule Bone.

Awards: NAACP Image Award nominations, for Murder One, 1996, for Chicago Hope, 1997, for Soul Food, 2001.

Addresses: c/o Showtime Networks, Inc., A Viacom Company, 1633 E. Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

shows, according to Hollywood.com, but unfortunately her character was married off at the end of the second season and Williams left the show. At this same time Williams started acting in a number of smaller roles in feature films such as New Jack City (1991), starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, and Chris Rock, Candy-man (1992), in which she played a protective single mother, Fatal Bond (1992), and the Spike Lee production Drop Squad (1994).

With this impressive list of accomplishments behind her, Williams next spent some time in Spain singing on the Telecino channel in Madrid. When she returned to the United States she was offered the part on the series Murder One, playing Lila Marquette. Williams was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her work on the show, but her character was written out after only one season. After that she took a part on the television show Chicago Hope, playing Dr. Grace Carr, for which she was nominated for another NAACP Image Award.

Another string of movie roles followed, including such films as Mother (1996), Breakdown (1997)a movie short that won an award at the Acapulco Black Film Festival for which Williams, who played the lead, won many accolades Incognito (1999), and Punks (2000). In 2000 Williams became involved with the Showtime Original television drama, Soul Food. Ironically, the television series is based on the popular movie that starred Vanessa L. Williams, although the two women played different parts. The movie centered around the Joseph family, and when the center of the family, Mama Joe, dies the family has to struggle to keep together by continuing their Sunday night dinners. The television show started with the Joseph sisters grieving over their mothers death.

On the show Williams played the middle of three sisters, Maxine Chadwaythe one who was most like the sisters mother and who has done the most to continue the tradition of Sunday dinners to keep the family close. The show became immediately popular, and Williams had no difficulty figuring out why. Viewers have been so hungry for this kind of representation on television for so long, she told Jet. Williams added, Its by Black people, about Black people, and written by Black people . Its an honest reflection of our people. Williams received her third NAACP Image Award nomination for her work on the show.

In 2001 Williams became involved in an animated television series, Heavy Gear: The Animated Series, providing the voice of Sonja Briggs. She was also chosen as the 2001 Celebrity Spokesperson for the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program, and finally found the time to work on songs and poetry for her debut music album. Williams married Andre Wiseman and the couple had one son, Omar Tafari. Williams might not have the notoriety of the other Vanessa Williams, but she has certainly become a Hollywood name to remember in her own right.

Sources

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, May 29, 1992, p. 16.

Jet, January 22, 2001; August 6, 2001, p. 44.

Online

www.hollywood.com

www.imdb.com

www.paramount.com

www.sho.com

Catherine Victoria Donaldson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/williams-vanessa-1969

"Williams, Vanessa 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/williams-vanessa-1969