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Publisher Description

The highly anticipated first book by a widely respected entertainer whose career highlights include The Right Stuff, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and former Miss America
When Vanessa Williams was growing up, she had a plan: She’d go to college and major in musical theater; afterward she’d get her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and then she would embark on a successful career on Broadway. And to make sure she stayed on that path, her mother, Helen Williams, gave her a list of things that she should never— ever—do.  Near the top of that list was “never ever pose nude for anyone.”  So when Vanessa became the first African-American woman to win the title of Miss America in September 1983 (an accomplishment that she never planned for or desired), only to be forced to resign ten months later due to a nude photo scandal, the lives of both Vanessa and Helen took an unexpected turn.  But Vanessa survived this setback, and many others to come, to enjoy a thirty-plus-year career as an award-winning singer and actress. Vanessa has been asked to write her memoir many times, but only now—with the help of her mother—is she ready to tell her story.

 Vanessa grew up in Millwood, New York, part of one of the town’s only black families. As a teenager, Vanessa defied Helen, flirting with boys, drinking, and smoking pot.  But despite their early conflicts, Helen has always ardently protected her daughter, staying in contact with the FBI about the multiple death threats Vanessa received after being crowned and being there for her during the dissolution of her two marriages.

Now the mother of four children, Vanessa describes how she’s made it through the ups and downs of her life as well as her career.  Jointly written by Vanessa and Helen and filled with dozens of personal family photos and mementos, You Have No Idea is an empowering celebration of the love between a mother and daughter and the life of a woman who beat the odds to achieve her destiny.

Biographies & Memoirs
April 17
Penguin Publishing Group

Customer Reviews

FL lady68 ,

YOU HAVE NO IDEA.. How good this book is !

Once I started reading this book, I literally could NOT put it down!
Being a daughter and a mother, I can understand both view points!
It's hilarious, heart-warming, informative at the same time!
Congratulations to both Vanessa and Mom Helen! Well done!!

Candie Kane ,


I enjoyed the book. I did not realize that Ms.Williams went through so much during Miss America "years". She was a Fighter and never gave up on herself. Even though many people would think her mother was a tough cookie she was a wonderful mother who really cares about her children. I was so amazed how close she was with her father. It's nothing like daddy's little girl. I was sadden about her father's death. I cried like a baby it is so devastating for a child to lose his or her parent no matter what age you are. Family is sooooooo important and precious to have in your life. I would recommend this book to all readers. A great job well done!!!! Keep up the good work Ms & Mrs Williams
Sincerely, Tarrific S.

PrinceLoverGa ,

You Have No Idea

A well written book that you can not put down! Vanessa is her own woman!!