Vanessa Williams – let’s hear it for Wilhelmina Slater

Native New Yorker Vanessa Williams currently stars brightly in both Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

In another post about another New Yorker Taylor Momsen I noted that though there is a good list of actors who become notable singers, like Taylor herself, the list of singers who become outstanding thespians is a much smaller one. I had forgotten about Vanessa Williams.

With a background in both Broadway and R’n’B and hits such as the beautiful ‘Save The Best for Last’ which also may prove to be her epitaph – she made the transition to television with aplomb as the uncompromising headstrong Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty back in 2006.

Ugly Betty besides America Ferrera as lead character Betty Suarez has many other strong characters – Daniel Meade, Ignacio Suarez, Hilda Suarez, Marc St. James and Amanda Tanen – but I think after Betty herself the Wilhelmina character is the stand-out performance.

Then in the seventh series of Desperate Housewives she makes a stretch-limousine entrance on Wisteria Lane as Renee Perry, Lynette Scavo’s old college friend, with another strong and memorable character performance.

She certainly can pick them as both Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives are two of the best written and performed dramas on our television screens in the last five years.

And great characters though Wilhelmina Slater and Renee Perry are it is Vanessa William’s performances that transforms them further.

She gets to deliver some great lines too especially as Wilhelmina “Alexis: It’s complicated coming back from the dead. Wilhelmina: Oh, please. Donna Karan does it every three years”! And “Even if I wanted to express sympathy I physically can’t’!

It is testament to her charismatic acting presence that we can forget that both of these shows are ensemble pieces and that their leading lights are one Ugly Betty and four Desperate Housewives respectively, she but a supporting part.

Time for a show where she takes centre-stage.