ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Three decades after she gave up the crown amid a nude photo scandal, Vanessa Williams is returning to the Miss America pageant.
The Miss America Organization,Dick Clark Productions and the ABC television network announced Tuesday they are bringing back the award-winning actress and singer to serve as head judge for the 2016 competition. It begins Tuesday and culminates in the crowning of the next Miss America on Sunday.
Williams, the first African-American Miss America, won the title in 1984 but resigned after Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photographs of her taken several years earlier.
She went on to have a successful career in film, television, music and Broadway.
“It was two drastically different images — that was the issue. It was Miss America, who is really kind of untouched and not reality, and then there was this woman in the picture that was the polar opposite of purity, and I was a normal kid in the middle,” Williams said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” ”That’s one of the problems I’ve had to deal with in my career, not only being a Miss America, but being a scandalous Miss America.”
Sam Haskell, executive chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, said his friendship with Williams predated the turmoil caused by the release of the photos.
“I have been friends with Vanessa for 32 years,” he told The Associated Press. “When the photos were published, there were people urging her to fight, but close supporters knew if she lost that fight that she would be completely removed from the history books.”
Haskell has been trying for a decade to bring Williams back to the Miss America stage, but this was the first year the logistics could be arranged.
“Vanessa’s career speaks for itself, with all the success that she has had,” Haskell said. “Her return as a huge success is a way for us all to move forward and put the past behind us. It’s truly an honor to welcome her back to the Miss America Pageant.”
Since her 1988 debut album, “The Right Stuff,” Williams has sold more than 7 million records worldwide and has scored No. 1 and Top 10 hits on various Billboard album and singles charts, including pop, dance, R&B, adult contemporary, holiday, Latin, Gospel and jazz.
Her work has been honored by 4 Emmy nominations; 17 Grammy nominations (of which 11 were for her individually); a Tony nomination, 3 Screen Actors Guild award nominations; 7 NAACP Image Awards; and a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song for her platinum single “Colors of the Wind,” from the Disney film “Pocahontas.”
She also starred on the TV shows “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives.”
Williams co-starred with Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Broadway’s “The Trip To Bountiful” in 2013. She returned to the Great White Way the next year in the musical “After Midnight.”
She joins pageant hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced the nominees for the 21st Annual SAG Awards today. Among those honored were industry veteran Cicely Tyson, who earned a nod in the “Best Female Actor in a Television movie or Miniseries” category for her work in “A Trip to Bountiful.” (In 2013, the same role on Broadway earned Tyson a Tony Award for Best Actress.)
Viola Davis was recognized with a nomination in the Female Actor in a Drama Series category for ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Orange Is The New Black”‘s Uzo Abuda garnered a nod for Female Actor in a Comedy Series.
It was indeed a good night for black actors at the 2013 Tony Awards event, broadcast Sunday evening on CBS,with Neil Patrick Harris hosting once again, as a total of five black artists took home trophies. Four wins by black actors happens to be the 2ndtime in the Award’s 66-year history that that many black actors have taken home trophies in the same year – 2013and 1982.
2013’s winners were:
– Cicely Tyson, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (The Trip To Bountiful).
– Billy Porter, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Kinky Boots).
– Patina Miller,for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Pippin).
– Courtney B. Vance, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Lucky Guy).
Last night’s fifth black winner was not an actor, but Ron Simons, one of the producers of – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – won the Tony Award for Best Play. This is Ron’s first nomination and win.
Not long after the curtain rises on the second act of “The Trip to Bountiful,” the Broadway revival of the Horton Foote play at the Stephen Sondheim Theater, something unusual happens. Cicely Tyson, as Mrs. Carrie Watts, sits on a bus station bench in a small Texas town. She is on the run from her abusive daughter-in-law and henpecked son in Houston, desperate to see the family farm in Bountiful once more before she dies.
Audience members join in as Ms. Tyson sings “Blessed Assurance.” Overcome with emotion, she begins singing an old Protestant hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”
From the first note, there’s a palpable stirring among many of the black patrons in the audience, which the play, with its mostly black cast, draws in large numbers. When Ms. Tyson jumps to her feet, spreads her arms and picks up the volume, they start singing along. On some nights it’s a muted accompaniment. On other nights, and especially at Sunday matinees, it’s a full-throated chorus that rocks the theater.
The new Broadway production of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” featuring Emmy-winning stage and screen star Cicely Tyson, has extended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The production, which officially opened April 23, had been scheduled for a 14-week limited engagement through July 7. It has now extended an additional eight weeks and will continue through Sept. 1. “Bountiful” was recently nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Play (Tyson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Condola Rashad), Best Sound Design for a Play (John Gromada) and Best Revival of a Play.
The cast also includes Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” “Red Tails”), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives”), Rashad (Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias,” Broadway’s Stick Fly), Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner. Michael Wilson directs.
Cicely Tyson’s return to Broadway indeed proved “Bountiful,” as she is among the contenders for best actress in a play for her starring role in “The Trip to Bountiful.’’ The others in Tyson’s category are Laurie Metcalf for “The Other Place,’’ Amy Morton for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,’’ Kristine Nielsen for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,’’ and Holland Taylor for “Ann.’’
The revival of “Pippin” “Motown: The Musical” each garnered several awards, among them nominations for their respective lead actresses, Patina Miller and Valisia LeKae. Courtney B. Vance also garnered a nomination for his supporting role in “Lucky Guy,” as did Tyson’s “Bountiful” co-star Condola Rashad for hers.
The full list of nominees is below:
Best play “The Assembled Parties” by Richard Greenberg “Lucky Guy” by Nora Ephron “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang
Best musical “Bring It On, The Musical” “A Christmas Story, The Musical” “Kinky Boots, The Musical” “Matilda, The Musical”
Best book of a musical “A Christmas Story, The Musical” Joseph Robinette “Kinky Boots” Harvey Fierstein “Matilda, The Musical” Dennis Kelly Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Douglas Carter Beane
Best revival of a play “Golden Boy” Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Bernard Gersten “Orphans” “The Trip to Bountiful” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Best revival of a musical “Annie” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” “Pippin” “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theatre “A Christmas Story, The Musical” Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul “Hands on a Hardbody” Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green Lyrics: Amanda Green “Kinky Boots” Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper “Matilda, The Musical” Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play Tom Hanks, “Lucky Guy” Nathan Lane, “The Nance” Tracy Letts, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” David Hyde Pierce, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Tom Sturridge, “Orphans”
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play Laurie Metcalf, “The Other Place” Amy Morton, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Kristine Nielsen, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Holland Taylor, “Ann” Cicely Tyson, “The Trip to Bountiful”
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical Bertie Carvel, “Matilda, The Musical” Santino Fontana, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Rob McClure, “Chaplin” Billy Porter, “Kinky Boots” Stark Sands, “Kinky Boots”
Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical Stephanie J. Block, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Carolee Carmello, “Scandalous” Valisia LeKae, “Motown, The Musical” Patina Miller, “Pippin” Laura Osnes, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play Danny Burstein, “Golden Boy” Richard Kind, “The Big Knife” Billy Magnussen, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Tony Shalhoub, “Golden Boy” Courtney B. Vance, “Lucky Guy”
Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play Carrie Coon, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Shalita Grant, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Judith Ivey, “The Heiress” Judith Light, “The Assembled Parties” Condola Rashad, “The Trip to Bountiful”
Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical Charl Brown, “Motown, The Musical” Keith Carradine, “Hands on a Hardbody” Will Chase, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Gabriel Ebert, “Matilda, The Musical” Terrence Mann, “Pippin” Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical Annaleigh Ashford, “Kinky Boots” Victoria Clark, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” Andrea Martin, “Pippin” Keala Settle, “Hands on a Hardbody” Lauren Ward, “Matilda, The Musical”
Best scenic design of a play John Lee Beatty, “The Nance” Santo Loquasto, “The Assembled Parties” David Rockwell, “Lucky Guy” Michael Yeargan, “Golden Boy”
Best sound design of a musical Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, “Pippin” Peter Hylenski, “Motown, The Musical” John Shivers, “Kinky Boots” Nevin Steinberg, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Best direction of a play Pam MacKinnon, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Nicholas Martin, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Bartlett Sher, “Golden Boy” George C. Wolfe, “Lucky Guy”
Best direction of a musical Scott Ellis, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Jerry Mitchell, “Kinky Boots” Diane Paulus, “Pippin” Matthew Warchus, “Matilda, The Musical”
Best choreography Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bring It On: The Musical” Peter Darling, “Matilda, The Musical” Jerry Mitchell, “Kinky Boots” Chet Walker, “Pippin”
Best orchestrations Chris Nightingale, “Matilda, The Musical” Stephen Oremus, “Kinky Boots” Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, “Motown, The Musical” Danny Troob, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
Recipients of awards and honors in non-competitive categories Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Bernard Gersten Paul Libin Ming Cho Lee
Regional Theatre Award Huntington Theatre Company, Boston
Isabelle Stevenson Award Larry Kramer
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre Career Transition for Dancers William Craver Peter Lawrence The Lost Colony The four actresses who created the title role of “Matilda, The Musical” on Broadway – Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro
After three weeks of previews, the Broadway production of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful starring Emmy winner Cicely Tyson, Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, opened on Tuesday at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre to several rave reviews (see below). Directed by Michael Wilson and produced by Nelle Nugent, the 14-week limited engagement will end on June 30, so if you’re interested, get your tickets by clicking here.