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Extended Audio Sample You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Holly wood, Love, Loss (and Each Other) Audiobook, by Vanessa Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.04 out of 54.04 out of 54.04 out of 54.04 out of 54.04 out of 5 4.04 (23 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Vanessa Williams, Helen Williams Narrator: Vanessa Williams, Helen Williams Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN: 9781101564257
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “A revealing portrait of a fearless daughter and her feisty mother.”

    Essence

  • 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
  • “A great, gossipy, advice-filled read for anyone, but moms, especially, will understand.”

    Ebony

  • “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

  • “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 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

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Offbalance | 2/16/2014

    " This book felt like sitting down for a great gossip with a couple of friends. Vanessa was so candid in this book that I felt close to her, and I loved how her mother was invited to interject her viewpoint. It really made for a rich account of a life well-lived. I loved Vanessa before after reading interviews and watching her on Ugly Betty, but after this book? I absolutely adore her. She's a survivor and a badass, and is unashamed of the mistakes she's made (but appears to have tried to learn from them). Totally worth a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 2/15/2014

    " I read this because she lives locally in Chappaqua. I liked the book but it was at times a bit boring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 T. | 2/4/2014

    " This book was really good. I liked it. I now know that I really had no idea. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nina Foxx | 1/31/2014

    " Didnt tell me anything I didn't know. I still love her though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 1/15/2014

    " Read for work but man is her life juicy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/15/2014

    " Loved it! Was awesome lots of inspiration found! Shes amazing! And I got it signed! I love her! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 LaFrenchie | 1/5/2014

    " Enjoyed learning more about Vanessa. she was so open and honest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patty | 1/5/2014

    " Very interesting story of Vanessa Williams' life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Fernandez | 12/21/2013

    " Audiobook version. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Temar | 12/19/2013

    " No ones road is without curves. Reading about different journeys remind you how strong we all are to endure on the path that we're travelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 12/9/2013

    " I enjoyed this book because I am the same age as Vanessa Williams and remember vividly when she lost her crown ... and thought to myself, good for her! Stupid beauty pageants. In this book you learn some insight about that time in her life, along with many others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abby | 11/18/2013

    " Interesting life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daree Allen | 11/10/2013

    " Learned so much about Vanessa, and the unique format of going back and forth between her personal stories, setbacks and triumphs with her mother's perspectives on the same was brilliant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin Swanson waldron | 8/27/2013

    " It was really great to read about her life and get her mons perspective as well - it makes you think about how our parents thought about our choices growing up. Great quick read:) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa Mccudden | 5/11/2013

    " Love!! So good "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 4/8/2013

    " A book every mother and daughter should read, but mothers should read it first especially if they have young daughters. It doesn't have anything that horrible but all mothers expose their children to different things at different ages, ages they think are appropriate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessi | 1/28/2013

    " Better than I thought it would be, but not great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tasha | 1/27/2013

    " I was surprised by how much Vanessa is willing to reveal about her past. Quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea Lewis | 12/13/2012

    " I liked the conversation tone in her writing and her openness in sharing her story. It was an interesting read. Especially to learn of the threats after she resigned from Miss America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 JohnMichael | 10/14/2012

    " A great, fast read. I've always been a fan of Ms. Williams' work, but reading her autobiography solidified it. Honest and down-to-earth, she shares a lot of personal stuff, and as an added bonus, we get her mother's perspective as well. Quite enjoyable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Renee | 10/14/2012

    " Loved this book. What a wonderful story of how to overcome an unfortunate situation and rise above. Bravo Vanessa! What a wise, wonderful mother Helen Williams is. Proof that you can still raise wonderful children and not give in to being their "friend" above being their mother. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marnie | 10/12/2012

    " I appreciated her candor in this book, all the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unexpected. I also appreciated her keeping details brief where expounding was not necessary. It's no wonder she achieved success, she is a multi-talented woman who has worked her tushy off. You go girl. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Burke | 7/27/2012

    " Pretty Interesting - she's had quite a life! "

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About the Author

Vanessa Williams is an American singer, actress, producer and former fashion model. She has appeared in both television and film, and currently stars in the supernatural drama series 666 Park Avenue. Williams released her personal memoir in 2012 in collaboration with her mother, Helen Williams.