Singer, dancer, model, and actress Vanessa Williams has released hit songs, starred in Broadway musicals, feature films (think Eraser and Shaft), and TV series (including Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and, starting this year, 666 Park Avenue). This year, she and her mother also published You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other).WebMD the Magazine caught up with the busy mother of four and asked her how she stays fit, how she stays grounded, how she feels about aging, and what it's like to write a book with your mom.
You've been an actor in ABC's Desperate Housewives, which is ending this month, and Ugly Betty before that, as well as a singer, dancer, and model. How do you find time to take care of yourself and stay fit?
By Jessie Knadler
You didn't see it coming. You didn't even feel it land — until a split second
later when you suddenly realize you've had the wind knocked out of you. What
just hit you? Someone's nasty comment, and it's cut you to the core.
Sometimes a faultfinder disguises her disapproval as a quasi-compliment:
"I would have never had the courage to talk to my boss the way you
did." Other times, a jab takes the form of a cautionary tale: "You're
going on a cruise? I still get nightmares...
I make the time. I've got one child in school, so I gear my life around her schedule. You have to be really organized. I've been a mother for 24 years and before that I went from college to working, so it's hard for me to not have a schedule.
You and your mother wrote the memoir You Have No Idea. How did you decide to tell your story with your mom?
The older I get, the more I realize how important my parents were in terms of not only creating me but giving me the skills to cope in life. People always ask, "How are you so grounded?" It always comes back to me being brought up by two parents who were loving and supportive, but who also were terrific in terms of setting boundaries. Writing a book with my mother allowed me to reflect on what made me me.
How did your mom influence your health habits as you were growing up?
She was always extremely active. When I was growing up, if she wasn't taking the dog for a walk, she'd be in town doing an exercise class. We would ice-skate together as a family, so being active is something that both my parents did.