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October 22, 2014

5 Questions With: Vanessa Williams

by Sandra Deane, posted May 5th 2009 12:00PM
When ABC yanked 'Ugly Betty' last month, fans weren't the only ones sweating bullets. Even star Vanessa Williams, who delights us each week as the deliciously despicable Wilhelmina Slater, was shocked by the decision to bench her Emmy-winning show.

But 'Betty' is back on the air and the adventures at Mode will officially continue next season. For now, an unhappy Willy makes for great entertainment -- ditched by her embezzling lover, now the maternity of her son (and link to the Meade inheritance) has been called into question. Williams spoke with us about the joy of playing Willy, the elation of renewal and which departing cast member she's sad to see go. -- By Sandy Deane


When ABC yanked 'Ugly Betty' last month, fans weren't the only ones sweating bullets. Even star Vanessa Williams, who delights us each week as the deliciously despicable Wilhelmina Slater, was shocked by the decision to bench her Emmy-winning show.

But 'Betty' is back on the air and the adventures at Mode will officially continue next season. For now, an unhappy Willy makes for great entertainment -- ditched by her embezzling lover, now the maternity of her son (and link to the Meade inheritance) has been called into question. Williams spoke with us about the joy of playing Willy, the elation of renewal and which departing cast member she's sad to see go. -- By Sandy Deane

Vanessa Williams Photos

    Vanessa Williams attends an "Ugly Betty" preview at The Paley Center for Media on April 29, 2009 in New York City. The Paley Center For Media Previews "Ugly Betty" The Paley Center for Media New York, NY United States April 29, 2009 Photo by Soul Brother/FilmMagic.com To license this image (57319271), contact FilmMagic.com

    Soul Brother/FilmMagic.com

    NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Actress Vanessa Williams attends a preview of "Ugly Betty the Rabbit Test" at the Paley Center for Media on April 29, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Will Ragozzino/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - APRIL 29: (L-R) Actors Tony Plana, Becki Newton, Mark Indelicato, Ana Ortiz and Vanessa Williams attend a preview of "Ugly Betty the Rabbit Test" at the Paley Center for Media on April 29, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Will Ragozzino/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Indelicato;Tony Plana;Ana Ortiz;Becki Newton;Vanessa Williams

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Actress Vanessa Williams attends a preview of "Ugly Betty the Rabbit Test" at the Paley Center for Media on April 29, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Will Ragozzino/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams

    Getty Images

    Actress Vanessa Williams attends a preview of the "Ugly Betty: The Rabbit Test" episode at The Paley Center for Media on April 29, 2009 in New York City. The Paley Center for Media Presents A Preview of "Ugly Betty: The Rabbit Test" Episode The Paley Center for Media New York, NY United States April 29, 2009 Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage.com To license this image (57318692), contact WireImage.com

    Bennett Raglin/WireImage.com

    Vanessa Williams attends the Point Foundation's "Point Honors. New York" gala at the Roosevelt Hotel on April 27, 2009 in New York City. Point Honors... New York Roosevelt Hotel New York, NY United States April 27, 2009 Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage.com To license this image (57308319), contact WireImage.com

    Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage.com

    NEW YORK - APRIL 27: Vanessa Williams attends The Point Honors Gala hosted by the Point Foundation at the Roosevelt Hotel on April 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - APRIL 27: (L-R) Vanessa Williams, Silvio Horta, Judith Light and Ana Ortiz attend The Point Honors Gala hosted by the Point Foundation at the Roosevelt Hotel on April 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams;Silvio Horta;Judith Light;Ana Ortiz

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - APRIL 27: (L-R) Vanessa Williams, Judith Light and Ana Ortiz attend The Point Honors Gala hosted by the Point Foundation at the Roosevelt Hotel on April 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams;Judith Light;Ana Ortiz

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - APRIL 27: Vanessa Williams attends The Point Honors Gala hosted by the Point Foundation at the Roosevelt Hotel on April 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Williams

    Getty Images



1. What's your favorite part about playing Wilhelmina Slater?
I think the range of the emotion but also the activities. I just finished playing piano with Christine Baranski, just played tennis, doing a scene with Billie Jean King. I speak tons of French, and you know, I'm always trying to seduce somebody and connive them. So it's not just sitting in an office and yelling at people. It gives me a lot of range to do a lot of new things, which is always exciting. I've never done acupuncture and I had to have eight needles in my face in one particular scene. Reflexology and acupuncture all for the art.

2. How does it feel knowing show has been renewed for next season?
We're very excited. Especially since we've had such a great season back in New York, our numbers are up and people are really loving the show. And we've really hit our stride in terms of everything going with the look, and the location and the writing. You know, everything was wonderful. So having two shows take our slot and not hearing about a definite pick up for next year, we were all nervous. So we're happy to be back on the air earlier than expected and we're also happy to get our pick-up for next season as well.



3. We recently posted an item about how Ana Ortiz's pregnancy made her psychic. Did you share any psychic moments?
Oh, I've never heard that. But I saw her two days ago. She looks phenomenal, and she looks radiant. Her timing couldn't be more perfect, as now that she's really showing, it's our last week of episodes. They're just camouflaging as well as possible, and by the time she gets back she'll have had her baby. Her shower was wonderful, and she's going to be a great mom.

4. Are you sad that Ashley Jensen is leaving the show?
Yeah. We've already given her a dinner that we do everybody that leaves us. She stuck with us since the pilot, so it was very sad for her to leave us. She's doing a pilot with Jenna Elfman, I believe, but we wish her all the best.

5. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about 'The Real Thing,' your new album coming out in June, and what makes this the right time for your return to new music.
Well, there is no right time, because I'm exhausted. You know, there goes my summer, which is supposed to be my time off. But, you know, I'm a creative person. I love recording and singing, it's just another part of what I do. It'll be great to get out there to sing new music. And for the people that have been loyal fans and bought all my stuff, here's new material. Babyface wrote two songs and produced two songs. Keith Thomas, who has done a lot of my big hits [including] 'Save the Best for Last' and 'Sweetest Days,' produced five [songs]. Rob Mathes, who is my musical director on the road and has done my past two Christmas albums, produced three [songs]. So, you know, I went back to people that I know, and who know me and know my music, and it was great.




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