Vanessa Williams Returns to Miss America Pageant for First Time in Three Decades

Actress and singer will serve as head judge for the 2016 competition

Last Updated: September 12, 2015 @ 11:21 AM

Former Miss America Vanessa Williams has been named the head judge of the 2016 Miss America Pageant, organizers announced Tuesday.

Williams was crowned Miss America in 1984, becoming the first African-American woman to win the pageant, but not without controversy. The model, who has found success in virtually all areas of the entertainment industry, was forced to resign 10 months after winning the crown when nude photos from her past appeared in Penthouse magazine.

But now it appears the organization is welcoming the former beauty queen back with open arms as she joins host Chris Harrison, co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.

Since her debut release with, “The Right Stuff” in 1988, Williams has sold over 7 million records worldwide, and has scored numerous #1 and Top 10 hits on various Billboard Album and singles charts: Pop, Dance, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Holiday, Latin, Gospel and Jazz.

Williams has also worked in film, television, recordings and on Broadway. She has received 4 Emmy nominations, 17 Grammy nominations, a Tony nomination, 3 SAG award nominations, 7 NAACP Image Awards, 3 Satellite Awards and ultimately a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song for her platinum single “Colors of the Wind,” from the Disney film “Pocahontas.”

A strong advocate for equal rights, especially concerning the gay community and minorities, Vanessa was honored with the Human Rights Campaign “Ally for Equality” Award for her humanitarian contributions. She also achieved a career pinnacle with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

The 2016 Miss America Competition airs live from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.