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Actress Vanessa Williams has recalled the time she received death threats after she was crowned Miss America in the 80s.
Williams made history as the pageant’s first-ever Black beauty queen.
“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. And I had death threats because we’re talking 37 years ago,” she said during a recent interview on “The Fat Joe Show.”
“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,” she said.
Williams was forced to resign from the position towards the ending of her tenure because of nude photographs of her published by Penthouse magazine.
“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. Six weeks before I was finishing my year [as Miss America], I resigned,” she said.
She spoke candidly about the impact of her controversial reign:
“I never wanted to be a beauty queen — and, of course, I never wanted to be a scandalized beauty queen. So, I had so much judgment from a very early age against me. I heard a lot of noes, 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,” she said.
You can watch the interview below.