Vanessa Williams received death threats after becoming the first black Miss America.

Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams

The 57-year-old star made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the famous pageant but her triumph did not go down well with everybody.

Vanessa said: "I won (Miss Syracuse), Miss New York State and Miss America all within six months, so I went from my junior year (at Syracuse University) to all of a sudden, I was the first Black Miss America in 1983. And I had death threats because we're talking 37 years ago.

"A lot of people don't like to be confronted with diversity, and I was the symbol of that, so I had to prove that I was smart enough. I was talented enough."

Vanessa explained how she was forced to give up her crown towards the end of her reign as Miss America as nude photographs of her were infamously published in Penthouse magazine.

She said: "After being Miss America, there was an issue with some pictures I had done, which did not have a release and they were sold behind my back. Six weeks before I was finishing my year (as Miss America), I resigned."

Williams has since gone onto launch a successful career as both a singer and actress and confessed that she "never wanted" to be a beauty queen.

She said on 'The Fat Joe Show': "I never wanted to be a beauty queen – and, of course, I never wanted to be a scandalised beauty queen. So, I had much judgement from a very early age against me.

"I heard a lot of noes, and all the people thought I would just disappear. And I thought, 'Once the dust settles, you'll get to know who I really am.' And, that's how I live my life."

Tagged in