|Vanessa Lynn Williams was born on March 18, 1963 in Tarrytown, New York, USA. She began competing in beauty pageants in the early 1980s. Williams won Miss New York in 1983, and went to the Miss America national pageant in Atlantic City. She was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983 making her the first-ever African American Miss America. Prior to the final night of competition, Williams won both the Preliminary Talent and Swimsuit Competitions from earlier in the week.
Her reign as Miss America came to an abrupt end when scandal led to her subsequent resignation of the title. Williams rebounded by launching a career as an entertainer, earning Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award nominations.
She is also well-known for her outspoken support of gay rights, having won the Human Rights Campaign "Ally for Equality" award in 2008. Although she resigned from fulfilling the duties of a current Miss America, she was allowed to keep the bejeweled crown and scholarship money and
is officially recognized by the Miss America Organization today as "Miss America 1984" and Suzette Charles as "Miss America 1984b." ( Wikipedia )