Actress & Keynote Speaker
VANESSA WILLIAMS (Actress, Singer, Writer, Director) Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Vanessa Williams is a Hollywood staple. This highly sought after creative artist made her feature film debut playing opposite Wesley Snipes, as Keisha, the gun toting head of security in the urban classic film New Jack City. Other film credits include Men Money and Gold Diggers, Raising Izzie, Imagine That (opposite Eddie Murphy), Like Mike (opposite Morris Chestnut) Punks, Mother (opposite Lisa Kudrow), Candyman.
Williams earned an Emmy Nomination for her extraordinary work in the Showtime original movie, Our America. And after six consecutive nominations in the category she won the 2003 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her brilliant portrayal of Maxine Chadway in the hit Showtime series Soul Food. Her star turn in Raising Izzie earned GMCTV it’s highest world premiere television rating. The film went on to receive a 2013 NAACP Image Award nomination for best Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Television credits also include The Flash, Ward of the State, the Bay series, Sugar Mommas, Lincoln Heights, Everybody Hates Chris, Knight Riders, Flirting with Forty, Ice Spiders, Cold Case, Soul Food TV series (5 seasons), Our America, The Steve Harvey Show, Chicago Hope, Murder One, Living Single, NYPD Blue, Melrose Place, The Cosby Show and Law & Order.
Vanessa debuted on Broadway in Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of Sarafina. Her other Broadway credits include Mule Bone, Death and the Kings Horseman and regional productions of The Vagina Monologues, Issues, Abyssinia and a European tour of the musical HAIR. In 2012 Ms Williams’ return to the stage garnered rave reviews for her role as Esther in the critically acclaimed production of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel at the Pasadena Playhouse.