Way, way back in the 1980s, Vanessa Williams became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America, and (surprise!) not everyone was thrilled about it. Williams faced a wave of racist, anti-woman nonsense that culminated in her being blamed for Penthouse publishing nude photos of her without her permission. This double violation saw her crown stripped from her after her body was exploited, and the whole ordeal will be told as a limited series for Sony TV. Fortunately, Williams is involved alongside executive producer Neil Meron (Chicago, Hairspray).
“This project is incredibly personal to me,” Williams told Deadline. “There are so many inaccurate and untrue accounts of the events surrounding this period in my life, and as a mother, and as a Black woman, it is important to me that my truth be told and be documented from my perspective. This is not just a story about racy photos, it is about misogyny and racism and I want to shine a light on that for future generations. I was not only able to survive what could have been a career-ending scandal, but rose above it and have achieved a body of work I am extremely proud of.”
The project comes only a few years after the Miss America Pageant publicly apologized to Williams, and amid a wave of series like Pam & Tommy and Mike which re-examine and/or recontextualize public figures from the 1980s and 1990s. The good news here is that, finally, Williams will be in charge of her own story.