The infamous story of actress Vanessa Williams, who was forced to resign from her Miss America post after posing for Penthouse magazine, is being scripted into a limited series with the backing of Sony Pictures Television.
Williams was the first Black woman to win the Miss America crown but before she could complete her reign, nude photos of her were published without her consent. The controversy would rock the beauty pageant world, although it did not deter her career. She has since gone on to become an award-winning singer and actress and has gained icon status among the Hollywood ranks.
“This project is incredibly personal to me,” Williams told Deadline in an interview. “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. I look forward to continuing my long relationships with Sony, Neil Meron and Mark Nicholson, and working closely with my partners Kathy Ireland, Stephen Roseberry, Jon Carrasco and Steve Glick to bring this story to the screen.”
Zadan/Meron Productions’ Meron and Mark Nicholson have been tapped executive producers of the project in addition to Stephen Roseberry and Jon Carrasco of Encore Endeavor 1 (EE1).
Williams is a three-time Emmy nominee and has 11 Grammy nods under her belt. She has also been nominated for a Tony Award, three SAG Awards and seven NAACA Awards.
“I am so grateful that Vanessa has entrusted Mark Nicholson and I to share her remarkable story of breaking barriers,” Meron said. “She faced a culture of discrimination and hate yet her indomitable integrity guided her to the many triumphs she has had during her remarkable career. She is a testament to living her truth and a role model for everyone. We’re thrilled to be working with Vanessa, as well as Kathy Ireland’s impressive executive team at EE1/kiWW, Stephen Roseberry, Jon Carrasco and Steve Glick.”