Save the best for last
Vanessa Williams surrenders to life’s simple pleasures
Vanessa Williams has wound up exactly where she wants to be. At 52, her numerous achievements include platinum records, starring television and movie roles, and Emmy, Grammy and Tony nominations as well as V. by Vanessa Williams, her own fashion line that debuted in March 2016.
“I got an inquiry asking if I would have interest in having my own clothing line and I’ve always wanted to design fashion,” says Williams. “This collection is a combination of me as a professional, me as a mother and me as what I wear for comfort around the house.” Williams discovered her power dresser style while starring as Wilhelmina Slater on “Ugly Betty” and Renee Perry on “Desperate Housewives.”
Currently, sans theatrical makeup and coiffed hair, the working mom of four children is dealing with a guestroom flood in her Westchester, New York home. “Thank goodness my husband is here so we’re tackling it together,” Williams exclaims. As her Grammy Award-winning song suggests, it seems like the former beauty queen has saved the best for last—both personally and professionally—tying the knot with accountant Jim Skrip last year.
“I always knew there would be another chance for me to find love again and that I had to be patient,” she says. “I feel there are no such things as coincidences. The fact that I met my husband who’s from Buffalo, New York, in the middle of the Nile in Egypt is pretty extraordinary. I’m in constant amazement of how wonderful life is and I continually get a chuckle out of it.”
Williams’s Westchester residence is only eight kilometres from the family home where she grew up practicing French horn and piano. She says her childhood was filled with music and creativity. Both of Williams’s parents encouraged her musically, but were also demanding academically.
“It was a fantastic structure,” recalls Williams. “I think I’ve become a woman who’s not afraid of life’s obstacles and challenges due to growing up with parents who were very clear in making their children’s lives independent. Learning how to do things for yourself at an early age just makes you a more grounded person.”
FINDING LITTLE JOYS
Part of Williams’s strategy to staying grounded—whether she’s working in Hollywood, on Broadway or relaxing at home in suburban New York—is reducing daily stress and finding satisfying activities. She seems to surrender to the simple pleasures of casual home attire, backyard barbeques and being a mother.
Williams’s perfect day begins at home. “I do my morning crossword puzzle out in the sun with a great cup of chai tea or a good cup of coffee, having all my kids home, plus my new husband,” she says. “My mom lives next door, so I am having her swing by and then probably, I cook. My kids love my lasagna but my son has taken my mac n’ cheese and perfected it with added lobster. It’s now his signature dish.”
WORKING IT ALL OUT
Williams embraces the positive aspects of maturity but she’s no pushover. Her down-to-earth approach in life affects how she takes care of her body, too. Feeling strong is a vital part of her self-image. She keeps her 5-foot-6-inch figure healthy by taking DHEA, bioidentical hormones and a series of drops recommended by her doctor to boost thyroid activity and adrenals.
“I love one-on-one exercise with my trainer,” she says of her workout strategy, “but I try to do something for an hour almost every day whether it’s a cardio-aerobics class, kickboxing, treadmill, biking on a bike path or just getting out for a walk. I go stir crazy sitting around doing nothing. All the previously mentioned activities allow my brain and body to get fed and I can approach the anxiety and stress in life better when I feel healthy.”
Williams’s anti-aging arsenal includes mud masks and creams from the Dead Sea—her beauty in a bottle. Additionally, the singer-actress-fashion designer enjoys her ATP radio wave microcurrent machine.
“It tightens, firms and stimulates collagen,” she says. “Technology has added huge benefits to the beauty age. From laser technology to cryotherapy—we’re embarking on an age where beauty will not just be going to a plastic surgeon for a facelift.”
In addition, Williams believes that beauty comes from within. “Nutritional eating is very important for outward beauty,” she says. “I’m not vegan, but I’ve become fully aware about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), juicing, cleansing and how important your food is to your overall health.”
Williams’s kitchen counters are filled with bananas for smoothies and banana bread, apples, and locally purchased ciabatta bread, which her family especially enjoys with olive oil and sea salt.
“I also have fresh, flash-frozen organic salmon, trout, and shrimp shipped to my home.”
NEVER DOUBT YOUR POTENTIAL
“I was basically a laughing stock 32 years ago in terms of being a credible artist, but I always knew I had what it took to be successful and one day, people would find out,” says Williams.
In her book, You Have No Idea, which she authored with her mom, Helen, no stone was left unturned. From becoming the first black Miss America in 1983 and the controversy that followed, to her many successes in life, the book showcases Williams’s resilience and tough character that has made her the woman she is today. Any sequel?
“I haven’t thought about that,” says Williams. “It would probably be titled One Never Knows — Does One.”