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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

4.6 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592407072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592407071
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read "You Have No Idea" in less than 24 hours. It's that good!

As a Vanessa Williams fan since her Miss America win, I'd known some aspects about her that were publicly disclosed. I've watched enough documentaries about Vanessa to win a game of trivia if challenged. And following Vanessa on Twitter (@vwofficial) is like reading a living book in real time. So while some fans only familiar with her early work ask, "What's Vanessa been up to?" and some new fans by way of her television resurgence in "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives" are unaware that she even sings, I felt that I already knew about Vanessa Williams. But even for longtime fans like me who think we know, the book proves that we have no idea. A few of her family members have stated that even they were unaware of some of the book's reveals. So "You Have No Idea" is truly a fitting title.

MY REVIEW

I don't typically read anything longer than a few paragraphs, so how'd I read a 285-page book in less than a day? Other than being a fan, the dynamic back-and-forth between mother and daughter captivated me. I found myself laughing and engaged. My favorite moments during the read were when, while entranced in Vanessa's story, Helen's framed `Let me tell you how it really happened' perspectives were inserted.

In some chapters, Helen delves further into her own story. You come to better understand the woman whose mannerisms and persona Vanessa used to breathe life into "Ugly Betty's" 'Wilhelmina Slater' character. But you also appreciate her as a parent (along with her late husband, Milton) who wanted the best for her children (Vanessa and Chris) and encouraged them to follow their dreams.

There are a couple of shockers. One was revealed before the book's release about the molestation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just ordered the book on Kindle which I have inserted in my PC. This book is fantastic. Vanessa Williams exemplifies the word "survivor". She adamantly refused to permit "setbacks" and "scandals" deter her from being the supersuccessful triple threat that she is and will continue to be in years to come.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is incredibly entertaining! Vanessa is very honest and reveals a ton of ultra private information. I laughed, cried, and could not put this book down. I loved how Vanessa's mom Helen wrote her version of Vanessa stories, they didn't hold back any juicy details. I admire Helen's parenting strategy, which as a result has made Vanessa a pretty amazing mom herself. This is a story of hard work, persistence, and brutally raw honesty.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At last - the full story is told! I have followed Vanessa Williams career since the evening she won Miss America. After all the drama and events that occurred during her reign and resignation, we never got the full story from her perspective. Of course the press had a field day with their angles, views and assumptions - but Vanessa forged ahead - focusing on her career and family - and enjoying her life. She knew one day the time would come to tell her story. And what an incredible story it is. Brilliant idea to co-write with her mother - then you get the full WIlliams Family story. Gotham - very clever of you!!

This book reads like you are having a conversation with Vanessa and her mom. You can't put it down and the selection of photos capture so many areas of the lives of these women - from early childhood, career, personal life - even Vanessa's dressing rooms. After this read, you will come away feeling as though you know her personally.

Great job all around to everyone!

Kim Davis
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When people think of Vanessa Williams the first thing that comes to mind are the nude photos in Playboy Magazine that occurred around the same time that she became Miss America but all of that is in the past. What people don't realize is that there is much more to Vanessa Williams. You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams gives the inside story into the life of Vanessa, from the woman to the versatile entertainer that she is today. Hear story accounts from her no-nonsense mother, Helen about the challenges of being parents to Vanessa, who grew up rebellious and a risk-taker; about the death threats that Vanessa and her family received when she became the first black Miss America; and how the nude photos of Vanessa were leaked to the steps that Vanessa took to become a well-respected and talented music and entertainment artist.

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.
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