Exclusive: After Two Divorces, Vanessa Williams Speaks On Finding Love Again, Getting Engaged At 51

April 13, 2015  |  

 

We recently had the opportunity to speak with actress, singer, and former Miss America Vanessa Williams. The ageless beauty spoke about her involvement with the organization, Dress for Success, which helps disadvantaged women make better lives for themselves through career development tools, donating professional attire for interviews and work, and offering a network of support to help women accomplish great things. Williams is taking part in the non-profit organization’s newest campaign, Success is Calling and talked with us about why such programs are essential.

But Williams also spilled some tea on what’s next for her career (she could be heading to Fox, and who knows if an opportunity to guest star on Empire could happen?!), black women slowly but surely taking over TV, and her love life. Williams, now 52, got engaged to fiancé Jim Skrip last year and wants other women to know that they should never give up hope on finding love. Check out what ‘Nessa had to say!

Her Involvement With Dress For Success And The New Campaign, Success Is Calling

I’ve been working with Dress for Success for many years, not only giving my suits and gently used handbags to the organization, but helping to tell their message. For women who have had some misfortune and disadvantages in their life, Dress for Success allows them to get tools, which includes the apparel, but also the skills to be employed. Dress for Success has teamed up Tracfone. They started a campaign called Success is Calling, and it’s helping women to have great interview skills over the phone. About 92 percent of HR managers say that skills over the phone are paramount to them when they hire someone. So women can go to Dress for Success, do the Success is Calling program, and when they complete the program, they will get a Tracfone smartphone for a year with the service. Hopefully, that will help open doors with all the skills that they learned and all the tools they also got to get jobs and get a new start.

Tips For Women Hoping To Ace Phone Interviews

The employer wants to know who you are. They want to know what your background is, and they want to be able to hear clearly what your message is and what you can do for them. So “um,””aw,” “I don’t know,” “uh” and “I guess” are not very powerful. You have to eliminate that and be clear, and also feel great about yourself. Hopefully, the clothes you get through Dress For Success will make you feel empowered, but you also have to tell your employer what you can do for their job and why you are right for the job. If they ask you about your children and where you come from, be able to have an interesting story and give them information that would say, “This person is unique, interesting, and sounds like they would fit in.”

If you want more information and tips for being fantastic on the phone and getting a job, you can go to the Success is Calling website. It has a whole list of tips you can get for your interview skills.

And if you just want to contribute to Dress for Success, you can go to Wal-Mart, purchase one of the Tracfone smartphones, and 20 percent of the proceeds will go to Dress for Success in April. There are many ways we all can win. Whether you want to help, whether you want to be part of the program or whether you just want to get the skills, you can go online.

Why These Programs Are So Important Right Now

Well, everyone needs a start, and everyone needs a break. A lot of kids are out of college, but a lot of women — I’m a mother of four, and I know what’s it’s like when you need to provide. As a mother, you also need to get a job to provide for your children. It’s always important to be able to have a resource that can help you look the part and give you tools to get the part.

On Fantasy Life, Her New Pilot For Fox

I finished a pilot for Fox called Fantasy Life. It’s about fantasy football, which is a huge, huge craze. And it’s based on the book by Matthew Berry called Fantasy Life. Matthew Berry is the producer and writer, but Mitch Berry is the character, which is played by Kevin Connolly, who is famous from Entourage. I play his boss, the VP at Fox Sports Network. It’s a half-hour office comedy situated in the sports world. It was a lot of fun, and we’ll see in the fall if we get picked up or not.

If Her Singing Skills Will Land Her A Guest Role On “Empire”

Who knows? We’ll see what the Fox network has in store for me. I’m a big fan of Lee Daniels. I was so happy that he did something that was not done on television. They trusted him and trusted what he wanted to bring, and they didn’t mess with it too much. They let him do his thing and look at the results! I’m proud of Lee, I’m proud of everyone’s hard work, and it shows you what can happen when you dare to be different.

On Her Engagement, And Her Words Of Encouragement For Other Women Looking For Love

Well my words are, there’s always hope. You never know what you’ll find and where you’ll find it. I was on vacation with my daughter going to Egypt, cruising on the Nile. I wasn’t looking for anything. I’d been alone for a number of years and divorced for ten years at that time. I found a hometown guy from my mom’s town in Buffalo, New York and started a conversation. He happened to be traveling alone and happened to know who I was but wasn’t a super fan. He accepted me for who I was after a wonderful first three-hour date of talking about ourselves. We found out we had a lot of things in common. Three years later we’re getting married.

Don’t ever lose hope. There are a lot of good men out there — of course I found the best — who are available and ready to be in satisfying relationships as well. Don’t ever lose hope. I’m 52, and now I’ve got a new beginning. It happens when you’re not looking for it! Just trust and believe.

Her Thoughts On Women Killing It On Prime-time TV

When I grew up, there was Julia, which was Diahann Carroll. She was the one who paved the way. And then we saw her in Dynasty as Dominique Devereaux, again, paving the way as well. So, we’ve seen the door open up further and further not only for women of color, but for women in general. With Desperate Housewives, that was the first time you had a whole cast of women who were 40+ who people tuned in to see. It shows that women want to watch other women, and other people want to watch other women as well. That’s when the power comes. When the power and the numbers come, then the networks know that they have something. I’m sure the success that Fox has had with Empire, again, shows that strong women are great TV. I’m happy with Kerry Washington, Viola Davis–who has been phenomenal on Broadway for years but is finally getting her chance to bring it every week. It’s all fantastic, and I’m happy.

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