Vanessa Williams on Returning to Miss America After Scandal

Williams, who was the first African-American woman to win, gave up her crown after nude photos came out.
6:03 | 09/11/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Vanessa Williams on Returning to Miss America After Scandal
So much has changed since Vanessa Williams was forced to give back her miss America crown. Just after making history as the first african-american woman to win it. All over a nude photo scandal. Nowadays people get famous on purpose that way. Not that she's complaining about how it worked out for her. Tonight Williams tells our robin Roberts exclusively about her triumphant return to the pageant. Reporter: It's the preeminent beauty pageant. Miss America. This Sunday, 52 women will strut down the runway hoping to win that crown. ? Happy times? Reporter: And one woman who knows how they'll feel up there, Vanessa Williams. Our new miss America is Vanessa Williams, miss New York! Reporter: Before treatment, get tested for tb. Tell your doctor if you've been to S areaeerwh certain fungal infections are common, and you've hatb,d he titipab,s E rare toonnfec ions,ti or flav H don't start humira if you have an infection. Visit and talk to your rheumatologist. Rahu .mi is th is a body of proof! Arently they're coming out. And my parents said, okay, we love you, we'll deal. Reporter: Those photos published, pageant executives gave Vanessa 72 hours to resign. I would like to start, can everyone hear me? Reporter: Or be stripped of her title. I officially relinquish my title of miss America 1984 to the miss America pageant. Reporter: That resignation, the first and only in the pageant's 95-year history. But the scandal didn't keep Vanessa from success. She flourished as a singer with hits like "Dreaming." ? Dreaming ? Reporter: Vanessa earned 11 grammy nominations before transitioning to TV's "Ugly Betty." Loved your perfume. Musky. Reporter: Even making her mark on Broadway. And now -- For the first time in 32 years, former winner Vanessa Williams returns. Why now? I've got a perfect platform to kind of be reintroduced to the organization that catapulted me into notoriety and stardom. Do you sometimes look at what's going on today and say, I lost my crown because of that, really? People are now releasing things to make a career. It's true. 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 and talent that I had and wiped it out. Reporter: It's been a long and emotional road back for Vanessa, who decades ago was unsure whether to fight for her title. The heightened spectacle and circus of it all was kind of crazy. I had people that were saying, fight for the crown, fight for the crown. And people chanting, don't give it up, don't secede. Fight, Vanessa, fight! Reporter: Back then her parents, especially her mother, didn't want her to give up. She felt the injustice was having performed my duties and excelled in everything that I was asked to do, plus doing 50% more of appearances that were not scheduled because I was the first african-american miss America. It was really hard for my mom when I decided to resign. She felt that I shouldn't have to, she felt it was the wrong moves. She remembers the pageant did not come to my support. They felt I needed to resign. She harbored a lot of resentment. Reporter: Meanwhile Vanessa was unaware of what her parents, who were still living in her childhood home, were epdo you remembering. They refused to change their phone number so people would call, prank calls, really try to hurt their feelings. People would drive by the house and beat things and yell stuff at the house. There was graffiti that was written on our local a and P in my home down that was derogato derogatory. They took home the sign "Home of New York miss America." An incredible amount of shame and humiliation. Reporter: But they survived the storm. Their mother/daughter bond so ago that Vanessa wihe tn 20-year-old college junior, became the first african-american to win the title. Did you understand the significance of being theirst n-american woman? No. To be miss America? I didn't realize how big it would be. Whas touring, older black women thought they'd never see it inheir T lifetime. Me psoeople dwoul cry. Reporter: But nearly 11 months into her N, scaal nd erupted. Racy nude photos she had posed for years earlier were sold without her permission to "Penthouse" magazine. What's going on but I'm sorry. We have no what's going to happen. I was stupid and I took some pictures and app do feel that I should return. So the people that harbor the resentment, I understand it. But realize that all those people that were part of the old guard are no longer there. And there might be some more surprises. We'll see. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm robin Roberts in New York. The 2016 miss America pageant airs Sunday at 9:00 P.M. Eastern right here on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"6:03","description":"Williams, who was the first African-American woman to win, gave up her crown after nude photos came out.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"33677692","title":"Vanessa Williams on Returning to Miss America After Scandal","url":"/Nightline/video/vanessa-williams-returning-miss-america-scandal-33677692"}