The Queen of All Trades: Vanessa Williams on Drive as the Propelling Force to Success

Actress, singer, model, Broadway performer, first African-American woman to be crowned Miss. America, and mother of four exceptional children, Vanessa Williams has embraced and thrived in all she’s pursued. The list of her accomplishments continues to expand as she broadens her skill set and leaves us all wondering what can’t she do? Vanessa recently sat down with Dress for Success to discuss the motivations behind her success which is inherently based on her love for the work she does and her belief in herself.

Vanessa is known for diverse electric roles that she stars in. On television, one of her most recognizable roles was editrix Wilhelmina Slater in “Ugly Betty,” which ran for four years and won three Emmy awards. On stage, she made her Broadway debut in the 1994 production of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” which won the Tony award for best musical.

“What these women have in common – and what drew me to them as characters – were their confidence and drive. At the end of the day, they all believe in themselves and that’s the key to their success, something I apply to my own life and world-view as well” says Vanessa.

When she’s not rehearsing for television or conquering Broadway, Vanessa takes to her other talents, making hits. Her first album “The Right Stuff” was released in 1988. The album went gold and won her the Best New Female Artist award from the NAACP in addition to three Grammy nominations. She went on to release more albums. Her album: “The Sweetest Days” released in 1994 garnered her two Grammy nominations.

Vanessa’s other passion is empowering women. This year, for the second year in a row, she partnered with Tracfone for the “Success is Calling” program, our initiative designed to help women master proper phone etiquette skills. As a multi-talented performer whose been granted several roles, Vanessa understands the importance of having good interview skills.

“Confidence is key – in fact, according to a recent survey by TracFone, 82 percent of HR managers use phone interviews to gauge a candidate’s confidence. Preparing for the phone interview just as you would an in-person interview will go a long way in achieving success” she says.Though her career is not one that is 9 to 5, she believes that confidence is what’s needed to excel in an interview. The same can be said for any industry.

Vanessa supports initiatives such as Success is Calling because they provide women the tools, skills and confidence they need to pursue their dreams.

Before the Tracfone partnership, Vanessa was already a long-time supporter of Dress for Success because she greatly values women supporting each other and paying it forward.

Vanessa encourages women to always go after their goals, regardless of obstacles they encounter in life. She credits her confidence and desire for a challenge as the reasons behind her many accomplishments.

“Never back down and never take no for an answer. A challenge is just that, a challenge, but there is always a way to overcome it if you employ determination and self-confidence” she says.

Vanessa is still conquering industries. Her next venture is the launch of her clothing line: V by Vanessa.

“I love what I do and I am always looking for the next best thing.”

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