Vanessa Williams(Fine Sistas from the 90’s)

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I thought Vanessa Williams stole the show in New Jack City.  She was beautiful but so deadly in the film.  She held her own with Wesley Snipes,Ice-T and Mario Van Peeples. I’ve always thought she was an underrated beauty.  Williams was born on May 12,1963.

Born and raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, Vanessa Williams became a member of the New York City Opera’s Children’s Chorus at age 11. Vanessa then signed with a talent manager and booked her first audition, a commercial for Frito Lay. Her pattern for success clearly set, her winning streak had only just begun.

After graduating from New York’s famed High School of Performing Arts she earned a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and business from Marymount Manhattan College.

A member of all three actors unions, Vanessa kept busy striking a balance as a professional actress and college student. When she landed a recurring role on The Cosby Show (1984) as (Theo’s scene partner in a school play), a high-strung student/actress named Jade Marsh, she made a friend and fan of “The Cos” Bill Cosby. So impressed with her work, “Mr. C” asked her back to play yet another role, Theo’s girlfriend Cheryl Lovejoy, a sweet young thing from Barbados.

Her New York stage credits grew to include the Lincoln Center production of Death and the King’s Horseman and the Broadway productions of Sarafina and Mule Bone, the Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston collaboration. The opening night celebration for Mule Bone packed a double punch of pleasure, as New Jack City (1991) was released in theaters nationwide that same evening. In this, her first feature film, Vanessa plays Keisha, the gun toting head of security opposite Wesley Snipes as drug czar Nino Brown.

Vanessa arrived in LA in September of ’91, “just to check it out.” A month later she was cast as single mother Anna-Marie McCoy in the Gothic horror film, Candyman (1992). She made her west coast move official in January of ’92, and became a media darling when she hit the media radar as one of the stars in the Fox TV hit Melrose Place (1992).

After residence on Melrose Place (1992) Vanessa traveled to Spain to sing and host the variety show Grand Fiesta on the Telecinco network in Madrid. Back from Europe she was immediately cast as a series regular in Steven Bochco’s critically acclaim television drama Murder One (1995), where she earned her first NAACP Image Award Nomination.

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She appeared opposite Lisa Kudrow in the Albert Brooks feature Mother (1996), then went on location in South Africa to star in A Woman of Color (1997), a film written and directed by Oscar nominated director, Bernard Joffa. She followed these projects with a ten-episode arc on Chicago Hope (1994), where she was again nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Vanessa starred in two BET original made for TV movies: Incognito (1999) and Playing with Fire (2000), and as guest star on Total Recall (1994), The Pretender (1996), NYPD Blue (1993), The Steve Harvey Show (1996), Malcolm & Eddie (1996), and Living Single (1993), Cold Case (2003) among other others.

She starred (opposite her soon to be Soul Food (2000) costar Rockmond Dunbar) in Punks (2000), the award-winning feature film directed by Patrik-Ian Polk, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2000.

She earned a Daytime Emmy Nomination for her extraordinary work in Our America (2002) a Showtime original movie directed by Ernest R. Dickerson, which also premiered at Sundance the following year.

As hot mama, Maxine Chadway, in the hit Showtime series Soul Food (2000), Vanessa secured the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.

Vanessa is also a talented writer who has written a collection of poetry and prose titled Shine. Her poems and essays have also appeared in Essence Magazine.

As filmmaker, Vanessa wrote, directed, and produced the short film, Dense (2004), which aired on Showtime Television and is a favorite among film festival-goers.

As a singer/songwriter, Vanessa performed her original melodies in the films Dense (2004) and the award-winning short Driving Fish (2002). She recently performed “The Vagina Monologues” along with Star Jones and Sherri Shepherd (from The View (1997)) in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, “Harlot Poetry by Vanessa Williams” at Artpeace Gallery in Burbank, California and “Stories in Song: an evening with Vanessa Williams” at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, CA.

8 thoughts on “Vanessa Williams(Fine Sistas from the 90’s)

    • Oh yeah! You didn’t know that? Vanessa was acting before the former Miss America. So she had the legal rights to the name. That’s why the former Miss America is named Vanessa L. Williams. This Vanessa had her SAG card first so that forced the other Vanessa to had the middle L initial.

    • Vanessa has been acting for over twenty years. She is a very talented actress. And still beautiful as ever. And I agree….there are some bad sistas in NYC.lol I’ve never been to NYC myself. It’s on my to-do list for sure.

      • I dont considered myself well traveled and Ive been to nyc countless times Its definitely historically significant. Im a major jazz fan so the harlem renaissance is a big thing for me. With all that, Ive never had the cahones to live there….but its def a stronghold for black people and should visit there 20+ times, I ❤️ny.

      • I’m really jealous! I’ve been wanting to go to New York for the longest time. I love jazz too. The Harlem renaissance was a great era. I feel bad that Harlem is suffering gentrification. I have heard there are a lot of white people out there now. They raised the rent and the black people had to move. Even Bill Clinton lives there…so I’ve heard. We can’t have anything to ourselves.

  1. Gentrification is occurring in the south-side of Chi-town, in a place called “The Jungle’ in Los Angeles, parts of Baltimore, Maryland, etc. And “raising the rent” is one of the many methods being used. I know personally of persons that succumbed to this and the black community at large in their locales are doing nothing about it. Just more strategic planning on the part of white supremacy….smdh.

    What black folks should be doing is unifying, rallying and some strategic planning of our own.

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