Quick Take With...Vanessa Williams and Her Mother, Helen Williams
Quick Take With...Vanessa Williams
1. What are 3 words that come to mind when you think of your mom?
Three words that come to mind when I think of my mom are blunt, thoughtful, wily.
2. What quality do you admire most about your mother?
The quality I most admire of my mother is her strength. Call her stoic, call her determined or just plain unrelenting, my mother can face anything dished out to her and confront the chaos head on without caving, collapsing or being reduced to a puddle of tears.
3. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your mother?
The most memorable advice my mother gave me is: "You'll always have to do better than everyone else just to be considered equal." That was in reference to growing up as a minority in my community, but it certainly translates to many aspects in life. Always do your best and that's good enough.
4. What is your favorite memory of your mother?
One of the most astounding memories I have of my mother is when she addressed a packed high school auditorium during my father's memorial service. My dad passed very unexpectedly over a holiday weekend, and in less than a week's time, my mother shared memories of my father, made jokes about his jam-packed garage, described his passion for education, waxed poetically about his devotion to his family without stuttering, shedding a tear or getting choked up. My brother and I stood behind her unable to utter a sound but Mom took control, thanked all who had come with ease, elegance and fortitude.
Quick Take With...Helen Williams
1. What is your favorite memory of your mother?
I did not really have a relationship with my biological mother until I went to college. At that point in my life I was free to make that decision on my own. I remember many things about my mother. She was a good cook who loved to crochet and adored her grandchildren. She returned to school to get a Head Start degree and was the "Queen Bee" of the projects where she lived on Jefferson Ave in Buffalo, New York.
2. Has there been anyone in your life besides your mom who has mothered you in a major way?
There were teachers who mentored me as surrogate parents from kindergarten through college.
3. What are you most appreciative of your mother for?
I am most appreciative that my children had an opportunity to know my mother and she was able to share many special moments in my family's life.
Vanessa Williams is a Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award–nominated singer, actress, and dancer. She has four children and divides her time between Los Angeles and Westchester County, New York.
Helen Williams retired in 1998 after 37 years in the Ossining Public Schools as a vocal music educator and former adjunct professor at Manhattanville College School of Education. She has two children, Vanessa and Chris, and four grandchildren. She lives in Westchester County, New York.