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You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Holly wood, Love, Loss (and Each Other) Hardcover – April 17, 2012
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“A revealing portrait of a fearless daughter and her feisty mother.” — Essence
“A great, gossipy, advice-filled read for anyone, but moms, especially, will understand.” — Ebony
“Vanessa Williams is a beautiful human being with a fascinating story—one of dignity in the face of adversity, determination leading to triumph. She is a wonderful mother, a devoted daughter, a gifted actress, a brilliant performer, and a dedicated friend who has always shown up for me—and so many others—when it mattered most.” — Maria Shriver
“Vanessa Williams is such an inspiration, and her mother, Helen, is a dynamo. You Have No Idea is a book that will make you laugh, cry, and will ultimately leave you empowered to face whatever challenges life throws at you with grace and poise—just like these ladies have." — Kristen Chenoweth
“I have known Vanessa for many years and have had the great pleasure of working with her in the past. She is a strong, dynamic, and truly remarkable woman and her story is one for the ages. You Have No Idea is a must read!” — Diahann Carroll
“Vanessa Williams is one of the most beautiful, talented, elegant and complex women I have ever come to know. Her story is sure to be an inspiration and a path for many who find themselves challenged but determined to succeed against all odds.” — Debbie Allen
“It's about time Vanessa Williams wrote a book about her life. Few have triumphed in as many aspects of show business and few have survived as much personal adversity. I promise you will be entertained, touched and inspired by this wonderful woman's story. (And if it sounds like I have a crush on her, I totally do.)” — Marc Cherry, Creator and Executive Producer of Desperate Housewives
About the Author
Vanessa Williams is a Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award–nominated singer, actress, and dancer. She has four children and divides her time between Los Angeles and Westchester County, New York.
Helen Williams retired in 1998 after 37 years in the Ossining Public Schools as a vocal music educator and former adjunct professor at Manhattanville College School of Education. She has two children, Vanessa and Chris, and four grandchildren. She lives in Westchester County, New York.
Top customer reviews
Vanessa details her adventurous childhood. She acknowledged that she loves adventure and that taking risks are part of her personality. She further divulged that when her parents forbade her to do something, she always saw a reason to do it. According to her mother, Helen, Vanessa was quite a headstrong child.
Vanessa demonstrated her strong willed character by riding a bicycle with her cousins without any protection. She stated that as a result of this adventure, she fell and injured her face. She further relayed that her mother had no iota of sympathy towards her whatsoever. She indicated that her mother believed that since she disobeyed the rules, she was to suffer the consequences of her actions. She stated that was the dictum of the Williams household- if you do not wish to listen, there will be dire consequences.
Vanessa endured many things such as racism and child molestation from an 18 year old family friend. She stated that because of the molestation, she started to rebel and to become more distant from her parents. She also recounts her teenaged years, especially falling in love with Bruce Hanson, whom her parents forbade her to see. However, whenever she could, she found an opportunity to be with Bruce once with quite disastrous results. She revealed how she had an abortion while in senior year and how it affected her.
Vanessa discussed her college triumphs which included winning several beauty contests culminating in winning the coveted Miss American contest. Helen stated how protective she was of Vanessa during that time because there was hate mail, including death threats. She further mentioned the pictures which lead to her dethronement. Helen stated that in the pictures, Vanessa's eyes betrayed her boldness. Helen revealed that Vanessa's eyes were sad. Helen further added that Vanessa subconsiously did not want to pose in those nude pictures.
After being "dethroned" as Miss America, Vanessa related how the road to success was quite perilous. She further related to starting at point zero at her career. She stated that during this time, people would interview her, including a very noted actor mentioning her nudity, thinking that she was a novelty. She knew that she had a long road and had to work beyond hard to have people take her seriously. Vanessa even mentioned that a noted owner of a play called her a pejorative name, indicated that if she obtained the part, her presence would draw a "certain" element to the theatre.
So Vanessa worked long and long, eventually obtaining success. In fact, more than that- she obtained respect. She garnered so much respect that she was asked to do another Broadway play. She proved that owner wrong- she was packing them in and the play extended its run thanks to her prodigious talents. More movies, records, plays followed. Then she got the role of a lifetime, Wilhelmina Slater, for which she was nominated for a couple of Emmys and winning NAACP awards.
In spite of her prodigious acting, dancing, and singing talents, she was a wife and devoted mother to four children. She is very honest detailing her two marriages and divorces to her mentor/manager, Ramon Hervey II and Rick Fox, basketball player. She wanted the marriages to last but unfortunately that was not to be. She was also a loving daughter to Helen and Milton Williams Jr., an esteemed educator, loved by his family and community. When he died, it emotionally impacted on her.
This was an awesome and beautiful book. It is at times joyful and at times, extremely sad but the book is an inspiration to all that no matter how bleak and dismal your life may be, no matter how many "mistakes" and "failures" you have, you CAN overcome and succeed. At heart, Vanessa is a truthful and unpretentious woman. She is also very traditional and old fashioned regarding her mores. She has led a life beyond reproach.
It is mother Helen who is the more liberal one. Helen is quite a woman- she has sass and vigor. Vanessa Williams is very traditional and old fashioned regarding her mores. She has led a life beyond reproach. I have found that it is mother Helen who is the more liberal one. Helen is fantastic, she has sass and vigor. I love this book as it presents the side of Ms. Williams that hardly anyone knew until now. I just could not put the book down and have finished it in 4 hours. Great read, you will definitely not regret purchasing this book!
I enjoyed reading You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams because when I saw her dancing in the movie, Dance with Me or see her acting in A Diva's Christmas Carole, sharing a life with basketball player, Rick Fox or singing Save the Best For Last it displays her resiliency and longevity not only in the industry but in life. She did not let any of her past cloud her future. If you're looking for a story about life and overcoming obstacles You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams is a good choice.
I have about 80 pages left, and so far, I've been truly mesmerized by both Ms. Williams, and her mother, Mrs. Williams. They are both incredibly amazing women!! I can't explain how much I admire Vanessa's fierce determination to prove everyone wrong and reach her dreams and goals. She overcame so much, and as a young African-American woman such as myself, I feel she's the one to look up to. Yeah, she made mistakes, and she lived life, but she's the shining example of what YOU can make of life with skill and determination.
I must say that the surprise of the book (other than the obvious ones) is the fact that Vanessa was a little hellion when she was growing up. Lol Many kids are, but it's fun to read about a celebrity, especially someone like Vanessa Williams.
This is the first autobiography I've read as an adult, and I definitely recommend this book. It's an easy, entertaining (and quite often funny), and enlightening read. I hope everyone picks it up. You won't regret it. : )
Ms. Williams' story is a truly inspiring one, especially for those interested in a career in the arts. She is truly so much more than a pretty face on TV. She is strong, determined and a great example of resilence. An absolute must read!!!