Vanessa Williams on Miss America Return After Scandal

The actress and singer tells Robin Roberts why she's returning to this year's Miss America competition as a judge after the scandal that forced her to give up her crown 32 years ago.
5:52 | 09/10/15

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Transcript for Vanessa Williams on Miss America Return After Scandal
our exclusive interview with Vanessa Williams returning to judge this year's miss America competition. 2 years after the scandal that forced her to give up her crown, now she's opening up about that time in her life and how she turned it all around. ? She was grand ? Before she dazzled us on Broadway. Do you think I won't hit you? Reporter: And proved she was so good at being so bad on the small screen. Love your perfume, Claire. Muskie. Bite me, Wilhelmina. Reporter: Vanessa Williams made history in 1983. Our new miss America. Reporter: When she was crowned the first african-american miss America. Vanessa Williams, miss new York. And now after 32 years, she's headed back to Atlantic City to judge the pageant that launched her career. Miss America, were people really got to know you. Yeah. 32 years ago. Why now? I've got a perfect platform to kind of be reintroduced to the organization that catapulted me into notoriety and stardom. Vanessa Williams, miss new York. 1983. You were crowned miss America. What was that moment like for you, Vanessa. That was my first time I was against women I had been little miss this and that since they were infants. I didn't know I was going to win. I knew I was smart enough. I knew everything took but I didn't know that would be the year. Big football game getting ready to grill, Tory Johnson has all that. All that and Anna Kendrick here coming up live on "Gma" in times square. Hi .So you Y... Take an ega-3 sulement.. ...Butt's the gradient ins that rely matte for hearhew Bayer O Ultra Omega-3 has two times the conctration of EPA a dha as E ladin Omeg3 supplent. We have no idea what's going to happen. I was stupid and I took some pictures and apparently they're coming out and my parents said, okay, well, we love you and we'll deal. Reporter: Onlookers flocked to newsstands in droves to buy what is still the highest grossing issue of "Penthouse" magazine ever. When you took those photos you thought they'd never see the light of day. Yeah. Do you sometimes look at what's going on today and say, I lost my crown because of that? Really? People now release things to make a career. Yes. That's crazy. To think that, oh, you can look at a scandal and think that would be good for your career where for me it took every ounce of credibility that I had and wiped it out. Good evening, miss America, Vanessa Williams, has lost her crown. Pageant officials gave Vanessa 72 hours to resign or be stripped of her title. Please, I would like to start. Can everyone hear me. Reporter: Prompting the first and only resignation in the pageant's history. I do officially relinquish my title as miss America 1984 to the miss America pageant. What was that moment like? I can remember seeing that press conference. The heightened spectacle and circus of it all was kind of crazy. Thank you. I had people saying fight for the crown, fight for the crown. Fight, Vanessa, fight. It was really hard for my mom. There was an incredible amount of shame and humiliation that she was confronted with because of what had happened to me and at that point I wanted to get on with my life. ? The right stuff ? Reporter: After a four-year hiatus Vanessa went on to make one of the greatest comebacks in entertainment history? At that time my husband was the one that said, listen, if you want to control your career you should be a recording artist ? I'll be dreaming ? a string of hits threw her back into the spotlight. ? Save the best for last ? Reporter: And her dream, of starring in feature films and on Broadway became a reality. You have proven that talent and true grace and beauty wins out. I knew again once the dust would settle I get a chance to show people who I am. Reporter: How do you want people to react when they hear that you're going to be a judge of miss in erc. That's a new day there and there are a lot of people that do feel that I should return. They are inviting me back as an example of this is what can happen to you in your life and there might be some more surprises, so we'll see. I don't know about you, we were singing along. So many big hits? So many big hits. When you think about it, it is one of the greatest comeback stories in entertainment history. She was down and out. No one wanted anything to do with her because back in the day we were talking when you were miss America, that was a huge deal. And the way she handled it. I love when she said about her family. She had to face her parents and we got you. That was so nice. She came back with hard work. Tour the nation as American royalty meeting presidents, actors and athletes. Did youunderstand the significance of being the first african-american woman? When I was touring, you know, older black women thought they'd never see it this their lifetime and some peeoplot N alert because

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