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Vanessa Williams: 'You Have No Idea'

Singer, actress Vanessa Williams and her mother share their hard-earned maternal wisdom

As a teen, Vanessa Williams enjoyed performing, singing, dancing and, like a typical teen, rankling her no-nonsense mother, Helen. In 1983, Williams never imagined she would be crowned the first African American Miss America — or the fallout when her Playboy past was revealed. And this was not her only secret. Williams had also endured childhood molestation and, in high school, an unplanned pregnancy that ended in abortion.

See also: Worlds apart: Mothers and their adult daughters.

Listen to the complete Vanessa and Helen Williams interview with Prime Time Radio host Mike Cuthbert by clicking on the audio player below.

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You Have No Idea, Vanessa Williams Memoir

Singer, actress Vanessa Williams and her mother share their hard-earned maternal wisdom. — Larry Josephson

But with help from her mom, Williams overcame her struggles and became one of entertainment’s most well-rounded talents. You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other), a new memoir co-authored by the pair, explores the inner workings of their mother-daughter relationship and how they used laughter and love to reach the other side of heartbreak.


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