Vanessa Williams is returning to the Miss America pageant to serve as head judge for the competition this year.
It has been confirmed by the Miss America Organization, Dick Clark Productions, and ABC television network on Tuesday that the former Miss America will be part of the pageant.
President of Dick Clark Productions, Mike Mahan, said in a statement said they are honored and excited to welcome the former titlist to take part in the 95th anniversary of Miss America.
— Philly Daily News (@PhillyDailyNews) September 9, 2015
Williams was the first African-American woman to win the title of Miss America in 1984. She resigned from her post after Penthouse magazine published nude photographs of her taken several years prior to the pageant.
She admitted that ever since the nude photos came out, the image she was trying to project as Miss America had been ruined: “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.”
“That’s one of the problems that I’ve had to deal with for my career. Not only being a Miss America, but being a scandalous Miss America,” Williams told Robin Roberts of Good Morning America on Tuesday.
Sam Haskell, who has been friends with Williams since even before the nude photos surfaced, said they urged the former Miss America to fight after the scandal broke out. However, Williams’ camp had doubts back then if they would win the case.
After Williams’ controversial resignation, she became a singer and had a career in television, film, and Broadway. She appeared in popular TV series like Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.
She has been active in social and humanitarian activities and has been honored with the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award for her humanitarian works. Moreover, she promotes equal rights for the LGBT community and minorities.
Haskell believes that Williams’ return to the Miss America stage is a way for them to truly move forward.
Other judges who will be joining the returning beauty queen are: Taya Kyle, Kevin O’Leary, Brett Eldredge, Amy Purd, Danica McKellar, and Zendaya. The hosts for this year’s completion will be: Brooke Burke-Charvet of Dancing With the Stars and Chris Harrison of The Bachelor.
Miss America pageant will air live at 9 p.m. on September 13 on ABC.
[Image by Rob Kim, Getty Images]