My granddaughter calls me 'Mumsy' not Granny – I love my age but have to draw the line, says Vanessa Williams | The Sun

IN a world obsessed with appearance, my mum was always having to remind me that I am so much more than how I look.

As a teenager living in the outskirts of New York in the ’70s, I was in awe of Hollywood starlets like Diahann Carroll and Lena Horne.

With their showstopping outfits and coiffed hair, they were everything I fantasised about being.

At the time, I was one of the only African-American girls at my high school, and if that didn’t make me stand out enough, my cystic acne definitely did.

But my mum Helen made a point to never comment on my idols’ appearance. Instead, she’d say things like: “Look how accomplished she is”, or: “She’s achieved so much”. I was taught that beauty was powerful – but it certainly wasn’t everything. 

With that in mind, I never thought my big break would come in the form of Miss America. In April 1980, I was studying musical theatre at Syracuse University in New York, when I was scouted for a local beauty pageant. I was hesitant at first, but one of my productions for the semester had been cancelled so I thought: “Why not? Someone has to win the $500 prize.”


Kourtney shows off ageing lines & wrinkled toes & feet in rare unedited clip

I’m a beauty pro, make-up mistakes that are ageing you

I performed Happy Days Are Here Again by Barbra Streisand, and I kept progressing through to later stages until, in 1983, I reached the final of Miss America and was crowned the first African-American winner. 

Being catapulted to fame made me grow up overnight. The following summer, I was asked to participate in a parade in Alabama. Normally, the winner would sit on the back of a Cadillac and wave to the crowds.

But at the last minute, I was told I’d be in a closed-top car as there were fears for my safety. That same trip, I was told never to answer the door of my hotel room.

I later found out my parents had been receiving death threats and hate mail – all because I’m black. Nothing robs you of every last ounce of innocence quite like hearing that.

Most read in The Sun


Harry & Meg 'found out they'd been uninvited to state reception in the PRESS'


Holly & Phil face fan backlash after skipping queue to see Queen's coffin


Dan Walker defends David Beckham after troll accuses him of 'publicity stunt'


Note left by mum of an autistic son on a stranger's car totally divides opinion

On top of this, I had members of my community saying I wasn’t “black enough” – that my eyes, hair and skin were too light.

Now, almost 40 years on, that experience taught me a life-long lesson – you can never please everyone. 

'Best for my age'

I’ve never been one to lie about my age, because anyone with a smartphone can find out I’m turning 60 next March. I’m proud of the fact that I’m about to enter a new decade – getting older is a real privilege.

I’m lucky to have had a multi-faceted career. After Miss America, I decided I wanted to focus on music and released my biggest hit, Save The Best For Last, in 1991, before performing on Broadway and as Wilhelmina Slater in TV show Ugly Betty, which aired in 2006.

When I started acting 25 years ago, it felt like women were tapped out as leading ladies by the time they hit 38. After that, you either got cast as a mother or a power executive.

I’ve never been one to lie about my age, because anyone with a smartphone can find out I’m turning 60 next March.

So I jumped at the chance to play Renee Perry in Desperate Housewives – it was the first time we saw a cast of 40-something women kicking ass, being sexy, having lives outside of their kids and just being who they wanted.

When I reached 40, I began getting Botox. I felt a lot of pressure, as it seemed everyone around me in California was having it done. I love how smooth it makes my skin, especially my neck, and I have doctors I regularly book in with now.

I can’t see myself getting anything more drastic done anytime soon, though. Some stars might not have a wrinkle on their face any more, but you can’t tell who they are. I just want to look the best for my age.

At the start of this year, I became a grandma for the first time when my daughter Jillian [Hervey, 33] gave birth to her son Sunny.

Read More on The Sun

Charles and Camilla arrive in Edinburgh for Queen’s sombre coffin procession

Harry offers olive branch to Charles after Megxit feud with telling message

I adore him and see him once a week. But even though I’m proud of my age, I’ve drawn the line at being called “Granny” – he calls me “Mumsy” instead.  

  • Vanessa Williams is an ambassador for Hydrafacial. Find your nearest salon at

Source: Read Full Article