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Q&A With Vanessa Williams

The singer, dancer, model, and actress dishes about mothering, health habits, and the memoir she wrote with her mom.

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Is there one health habit you wish you'd started earlier in your life?

Sunscreen. I grew up in the '70s, so it was baby oil and reflectors. Sunscreen would have done me well back in my teenage years and early 20s. I probably wouldn't have the majority of the wrinkles I have now if I had paid attention to that.

What do you do for relaxation?

I love to sit out and be in nature. I also do my crossword every day; that's relaxation for my mind. When I travel, I always book a massage as soon as I land just to get the knots out. And when I'm on vacation, I love to horseback ride -- that's really relaxing and also thrilling.

Do you grow vegetables like your parents did?

I don't have a vegetable garden now, but I always have a pot of herbs that I cook with.

Did your parents also pass on a love of cooking?

Yes. My mom would cook, and my dad also enjoyed baking and would create different types of breads. So my kids have an appreciation for home-cooked food. They always felt welcome to cook and be in the kitchen. I'd say, 'If you want a snack, I'll show you how to make an egg sandwich.'

Do you enjoy exercise?

Yes, and I was lucky to have danced all my life, so I have great muscle memory. If you've trained your muscles all your life and you take some time off and then jump back in, it's amazing how quickly your body remembers. So I can gain or define muscle very quickly. I really enjoy moving my body, whether it's Tae Bo, going to a salsa club, or doing weight training with a trainer.

When you were reading your mother's sections of You Have No Idea, did you learn things about her that you never knew?

Well, I'm one of those people who always asks questions. My mother didn't have the luxury of the information that we have [about our parents], because people from the generation before didn't talk a lot about it. A lot of family history wasn't mentioned and discussed at the dinner table, so there's a lot of mystery that we in our generation are so fortunate to be able to delve into.

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Reviewed on April 02, 2012

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