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You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)
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You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  364 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
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 success
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Gotham
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Colette Byfield
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was surprised this book didn't received higher ratings. Vanessa Williams is one of the most famous and semi-private bonafide talented celebrities left. I am of the generation who missed out on the Miss America scandal and frankly didn't care about it when I found out in the mid to late 80's. For most young Black teenage girls, pageants have absolutely no resonance.

The Vanessa I came to know first was the singer. Everyone I knew was jammin' to Dreamin' and I never heard any of my friends dispar
Alice Gold
"I was upset. I was frustrated. But I didn't want to kill myself, as was reported. I look back at stories and headlines written about me at the time. They'd say things like 'Vanessa's dark days or Vanessa's hit rock bottom.' I knew it would be tough, but I also never doubted I would succeed. When you know this, you don't have dark days, you don't hit rock bottom. You just have days when you want to scream at people: 'You have no idea what I can do!'" I just love this quote by Vanessa no page 66. ...more
Tallulah A. Scribbles
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
“A more appropriate title could not have been chosen for this book for me. I won an advance reading copy of "You Have No Idea" through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I normally steer clear of biographies about modern-day public figures, as I don’t really want to know the minutiae of their lives. However, I have vowed to read five auto/biographies this year so I signed up for the giveaway based on the subtitle only – without noticing the subject or author. I thought, “Famous daughter equals bi ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-keepers
The moment I saw Helen on the cover however, I suspected this would be a down-to-earth memoir, projecting much of the same energy I recall coming off screen, but I truly had no idea.

This powerful, and humorous at times memoir touched me deeply; Helen’s story in particular. Many will easily relate to her feelings, and therefore will likewise appreciate Milton (Vanessa’s dad) and how they complimented each other as a couple, and as parents. Milton’s lunchbox comment, ‘dare to be different’, and H
DuEwa Frazier
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Vanessa Williams is one of my favorite actresses. She has always been a versatile, triple threat as a performer. I was excited to dive into her memoir and learn more about her life. The title for the book is extremely appropriate because, well looking at Vanessa and witnessing her impressive body of work over the years, you would never know the trials, pains and heartaches she has been through. I enjoyed the inclusion of Vanessa's mother, speaking from her perspective on Vanessa growing up and w ...more
Nichelle Hayes
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. It shows the min and heart of Vanessa And Helen. Helen is a wonderful Mother.
It was an okay read and enjoyed the pics the most.
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at

You Have No Idea by Vanessa and Helen Williams may be the perfect book for Mother's Day reading. Why?

As the long, but very accurate subtitle says, it's about "a famous daugher, her no-nonsense mother, and how they survived pageants, Hollywood, love, loss (and each other)"

This story is both autobiography and biography, as Vanessa and Helen take turns writing about their own lives, and then say what they did, and more importantly, how th
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic co-autobiography by Vanessa and Helen Williams. This mother-daughter power team delves into their unique relationship and describes the peaks and valleys of their lives (together and separate). It was an easy read and I found myself flagging some pages to refer to later.
Vernita Naylor
When people think of Vanessa Williams the first thing that comes to mind are the nude photos in Playboy Magazine that occurred around the same time that she became Miss America but all of that is in the past. What people don't realize is that there is much more to Vanessa Williams. You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams gives the inside story into the life of Vanessa, from the woman to the versatile entertainer that she is today. Hear story accounts from her no-nonsense mother, ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Calling all Vanessa Williams fans!

I enjoy reading memoirs and biographies particularly of women. Its fun and interesting to learn about them on a deeper level and find out the back stories behind their successes and how they overcame the adversity in their lives. I am a Vanessa Williams fan (Go team V!), I think she is an incredible actress, very talented and of course stunningly beautiful. What's great about this book is that you get two stories for the price of one, that is you learn about Va
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, own
I was delighted to receive this book from Goodreads giveaway. I've always felt Vanessa Williams had a interesting story to tell and boy, does she ever!

I was capitivated not so much by the story of the celebrity actress and singer, as by the revelations about how Vanessa Williams catapaulted in a few years from rebellious teenager to the first black Miss America. I remember her grace and the dreadful way she was treated by the press for a youthful indiscretion. I remember feeling she had been be
Kimberly Hicks
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kimberly by: Goodreads
I truly did not have any idea what kind of life Vanessa Williams 'really' led. It amazes me how the media portrays celebrities in one light, but to get the 'real' facts from the celebrity themself is a totally different experience. She tells everything from the Miss America fiasco to her marriage with Rick Fox. I've always been proud of Vanessa for standing up for what she believes in and I'm glad that she and her mom wrote this book. The reader will feel her pain, her struggles and hopes and as ...more
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I've always liked Vanessa Williams so when I won a copy of this book I dove right in and started reading.

I was impressed that she started talking about the Miss America/nude photo scandal right at the beginning of the book and didn't really pull any punches. She admits what she did, why she was naive (and a little rebellious) and what she regrets. But let's face it, she probably wouldn't have had such an extensive career post-pageant without this notoriety. She has tons of talent and this scanda
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I'm not sure why I picked up this book. I don't necessarily follow Vanessa Williams, but I always have been intrigued by her rise to fame despite the odds. I really truly did not know much about her other than the headlines over the years. I have to say I have a new found respect for her and had no idea how truly talented she was (hah!). I found the book a bit confusing as her mother chimes in on occasion and sometimes I could not figure out who was talking and it seemed at incredibly odd times ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: chicklit, tv
Yeah, I am a sucker for celeb autobios. I'll pick nearly every one that I have an interest in. This one was about Vanessa Williams whom I LOVED on Ugly Betty. This book only talked a little about it and it was mainly about her childhood and rise to stardom. She'll be glad to know that most people my age (and then of course, younger) really don't know about her past with the Miss America pageant. And like with everything in Hollywood, years later, no one really cares. In reading this book, I lear ...more
Shayla Drumm
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
After receiving this book as a Goodreads giveaway, I was anxious to begin reading. While the book was a pretty fast read it was surprisingly poorly written. A lot of information was shared but it was without emotion, almost as if reading an entire book from Wikipedia. There have been so many fascinating, scandalous, and inspiring aspects in Vanessa's life; it is a shame that it was expressed with such detachment. For the reader who simply wants to know the details of Vanessa William's life, they ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received as a GoodReads giveaway. About what I expected, I guess, nothing too surprising or profound. It's mostly from Vanessa's perspective, with some chapters and boxes from her mother Helen interspersed through the text. The chapters from Helen should have been better marked - the only clue for the perspective shift was a change in font, and I sometimes overlooked that. A name at the beginning of the chapter would have helped. I came away with an image of Vanessa that pretty well matches what ...more
Ursula Shelton
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have never really considered myself to be a Vanessa Williams fan. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book that gives her take on her life as well as her mother Helen's. There were interesting family facts, but most of all it's about her life and how she stayed true to her vision. She has a wonderful career as well as a loving family which is something to be thankful for. I will recommend this book to friends and family it was very easy reading. Sort of like sitting in a chair and speaking with ...more
Grandma Weaver
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting story. I didn't know much about Vanessa Williams except she was a character on Desperate Housewives and the Miss America debacle several years ago. She tells it all I think and some of her life is messy. Her mother also wrote part of the book and I liked getting her views on raising children and how she handled some of the things Vanessa did. She seemed very devoted to her family and I think she must be pretty down to earth and very ambitious. All in all I enjoyed reading ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Good, easy read with a lot of personal information. Even with all the personal info though, I didn't feel as if it was too much (although it was a lot!). It would have been a little easier to read if they had put the name of who was talking at the top of each section (Vanessa and her mom alternated sections; on my ereader there was no font differentiation) but as I went along I could distinguish who was who. Very enjoyable and nice to see that stars lives and relationships with their parents are ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 fr ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
If you remember the Miss America scandal that surrounded Vanessa Williams, and you are curious as to what was going though her mind and life at the time - then this book will be a good read for you. The book starts with that story, but goes into her childhood-to-young woman period to explain her behavior and mindset that led up to her being asked to relinquish her crown. After that, she explains her rise to fame as a singer-actress-broadway star. Alongside of Vanessa's viewpoint of events in her ...more
Florence Wetzel
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am a big Ugly Betty fan, so I was curious to read about V. Williams. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and I really enjoyed it. I think she is a really admirable person, down-to-earth, hard-working, talented, and a mom to boot. This story shows that's she's also very resilient, having undergone a public scandal that would have sent most people hiding for life. Good for her for reclaiming her life--and you have to like anyone who writes a book with their mom!
Michelle Floyd
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have always adored Vanessa from the time she was announced as Ms. America! Throughout my years of watching her career grow/change/improve, it was wonderful to be able to read everything she was feeling and experiencing during those moments in her life. This book opens up a new level of respect I have for her. Lesson from this is that NOTHING comes easy, life is a journey and everything is not what it appears to be!!!! Love you Vanessa and Helen! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I've always been a Vanessa Williams fan. She collaborated with her mother, Helen Williams, to write about her life. It's a quick read that chronicles her fall from grace as the first black Miss America and her her ensuing career. We learn that Vanessa was a rebellious teenager and that she and her mother have had a contentious relationship. The book lacks the depth that some may expect, but Vanessa's candor is refreshing.
Martella Nelson
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book both hilarious and funny! I like how Vanessa's viewpoint is paralleled with her mother's. Vanesss truly ended much pain and hardship after making a silly decision to take nude pictures as a young naive model. The story proves that we need our parents guidance even as adults. Excellent Read!
Audrey Jenkins
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
History, success, scandal, forgiveness and recovery are narrated well in Vanessa Williams' account of her life and lifestyle in an African-American middle class family. Her success is often overlooked. I welcomed her humor, explanation of choices, inherited work ethic and two generations of parenting stories.
Mosley Allen
Picked this book up at the Dollar Tree. I mostly got it for the fact that I had seen Vanessa in a few TV series like Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty. I had no idea that she was the first black Miss America or the scandal that followed. I liked getting to hear both the mother and daughters side of the story, if you are a fan of her music or acting I'd say give this book a read.
Jeffrey L Martinez
Amazing life story of a truly great lady. Incredible talent and beauty and an amazing soul.

Great story about a truly amazing woman. Incredibly talented and beautiful, and an amazing soul. Having her mom on board gives a counter balance to what shaped her life and adds a very interesting dimension.
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