Vanessa Williams Returns To Miss America 3 Decades After Nude Photo Scandal

Entertainment | Camille Travis | 09/09/2015 | 12:00 PM EDT

(Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Williams will return as head judge of the 2016 competition

Vanessa Williams will make her return to the Miss America competition this weekend more than three decades after she was forced to resign due to a nude photo scandal.

 

The Miss America Organization, Dick Clark Productions and ABC announced Tuesday that Williams is on deck to serve as head judge of the 2016 competition. The news is a full circle moment for the multi-hyphenate star, who became the first African-American Miss America in 1984.

 

Williams was forced to resign after Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photos that dated back to 1982. While Williams was allowed to keep her crown and scholarship money and is officially recognized as "Miss America 1984," her duties were passed along to first runner-up Suzette Charles (also an African-American contestant).

 

"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," Williams said in a "Good Morning America" interview Tuesday following the news. "That's one of the problems I've had to deal with in my career, not only being a Miss America, but being a scandalous Miss America."

 

Williams did exceptionally well after the controversy, racking up four Emmy nominations, 17 Grammy nominations, a Tony nomination, several NAACP Image Awards and more.

 

The 2016 Miss America competition began Tuesday night (Sept. 8) and will wrap up this Sunday with the crowning of the new Miss America. 

 

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