She went from being crowned Miss America – to First Lady.
Vanessa Williams stars as the First Lady in Broadway’s “POTUS” – a role she has been collecting all her life.
“I’ve met five first ladies in my life, which was pretty special, so I have a great history to draw from,” the 59-year-old told The Post via Zoom on Friday. “Because they are all wonderful, graceful, smart, passionate, devoted women.”
Her first meeting with the president’s other half came after she was crowned Miss America in 1983 — when she attended the state dinner at the White House and met President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.
In the play, which has been nominated for three Tony Awards, the audience never sees the president but learns a lecherous fact about him – that he impregnated a young woman played by Julianne Hough.
The actress and “Save the Best for Last” singer — who invited her Chappaqua neighbor Hillary Clinton to see the show — took away any hint of irony.
“But you know what…there’s been a lot of scandal, John F. Kennedy, I mean, there’s been scandals across the board,” she said.
One of the most recent scandals to rock the Great White Way has been the leak of a cell phone video and images of a naked Jessie Williams in “Take Me Out.” The mother of four and first-time grandma says that’s the normal course of business and “part of the risk of doing a show where you’re all the way in the front and all the back.”
The former pageant queen understands the risks firsthand as nude photos of herself have emerged after winning Miss America, leading to her ultimately resigning.
In fact, she first got the news that her “Penthouse” photos were being made public without her permission from a New York Post reporter during a 1984 interview — which also involved a woman in the White House.
“Geraldine Ferraro was running for female vice president… It was July 13, Friday the 13th, when I had the interview… At the very end, he said, ‘Oh, by the way, we heard it from a reliable source. And I was like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’”
Williams — who won Miss America while still a student at Syracuse University — said she didn’t feel the same pressures as other beauty competitors.
This was because the Bronx native, who grew up in Millwood, was awarded the title after competing in only a handful of competitions, including Miss New York, a title she was awarded just a few months prior to Miss America.
She met Miss Universe winner Chelsie Kryst, who committed suicide in January by jumping off her Midtown building, when the Extra correspondent virtually interviewed her in 2020.
“I did one interview with her during the pandemic,” she said. “But I had no idea. She didn’t look like she had any psychological issues she was dealing with. So I have no idea what was going on in her life, but to take your life that way is a very strong statement that you want to be seen and heard.”
For her character, Margaret, whom Williams calls a “badass,” the actress does her own makeup. And when it comes to accessories, she was inspired by real women from the White House.
“The triple pearl necklace is definitely very Barbara Bush,” she said. “The headband I wear in Act II, Hillary went through her headband phase. The jumpsuit, I think Michelle Obama is probably the only First Lady to ever make a jumpsuit.”
And speaking of signature accessories, Williams still has her Miss America crown in a box at home. “I resigned, no one came to my house to dethrone me,” she said with a laugh.