A quick chat with Vanessa Williams
Desperate Housewives actress Vanessa Williams talks fast cars, Botox and Michael Jackson... So, how is life treating you on Wisteria Lane? “Everyone has been tremendously welcoming. I love being on Desperate Housewives. It has really revolutionised television with its portrayal of women my age.” How would you describe your character, Renee? “She has a large personality and is someone to be reckoned with, but she’s a lot less harmful than the wrathful Wilhelmina on Ugly Betty.” How did you feel when Ugly Betty was axed? “It was heartbreaking. We finally got the show perfect and running smoothly then the rug was pulled up from under us. But playing Wilhelmina gave me four tremendous years.” Are you fanatical about fashion like Wilhelmina? “No, I enjoy the creativity and the fantasy, but shopping to me seems a waste of an afternoon. I never shop just for the sake of it. That’s not pleasurable to me.” You won Miss America in 1983. Has your beauty background influenced your career? “You can’t ignore what you look like and that has certainly played into my career. I’ve never had producers say, ‘Oh, we’ll have you play the maid’. It’s always a glamorous, confident, intelligent type of role.” You have famously admitted to using Botox to keep your looks... “Well, I think that it’s a beauty tool that can help make you look refreshed and relaxed. I use it as an aid, and it’s not something that I would get hooked on. Some people are junkies. You can see when people have no expression, and that’s a danger.” Tell us something that people may not know about you “I really love sport cars with leather seats. Also, on the weekends I love to listen to Irish music.” When did you decide to be a performer? “I was born into a musical family and I grew up learning two instruments. I was so lucky to have parents that respected the arts.” You’ve also had a successful singing career. What do your prefer: singing or acting? “I would have to say appearing on Broadway, because I get a chance to do both at the same time.” What was the first record you bought? “ABC by the Jackson 5. I remember carving a little heart around Michael’s face on the back of the album. It’s such a tragic loss that he’s gone.” How do you chill out away from work? “I find a place in the sun, do my crossword puzzle, have my chai tea, and relax. But the older I get the more I realise there's less to stress about. I’m happy to be alive and surrounded by family.” *Desperate Housewives screens on Sundays on C4 and Wednesdays on E4
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.