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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), by Vanessa Williams, Helen Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (172 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:
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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. But her life took a detour and she wound up the first black 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—much to the shock of her mother, Helen, who had told her, “never pose nude for anyone.” But Vanessa survived this setback, and many others to come, to enjoy a 30-plus-year career as an award-winning singer and actress. Vanessa has been asked to write her memoir many times, but only now—in collaboration with her mother, Helen—is she ready to tell her story.

Vanessa grew up in Millwood, New York, part of one of the town’s only African American families. As a teenager, Vanessa and Helen were constantly at odds. But despite their early conflicts, Helen has always ardently protected and supported her daughter, staying in contact with the FBI about the death threats Vanessa received after being crowned and being there for her through the birth of her four children and dissolution of her two marriages. Vanessa describes how she’s made it through the ups and downs of her life as well as her career—from the The Right Stuff to Kiss of the Spider Woman to Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives

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, thus far, 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
  • 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 revealing portrait of a fearless daughter and her feisty mother.”

    Essence

  • 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 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Nina Foxx | 1/31/2014

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

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