Born and raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, Vanessa Williams became a member of the New York City Opera's Children's Chorus at age 11. Vanessa then signed with a talent manager and booked her first audition, a commercial for Frito Lay. Her pattern for success clearly set, her winning streak had only just begun. After graduating from New York's famed High School of Performing Arts she earned a Bachelor's degree in theatre and business from Marymount Manhattan College. She got her first big break with the recurring role as Theo's school play scene partner on The Cosby Show. Her feature film debut was in the 1991 film New Jack City. She has went on to have roles in over 45 movies and television to date, including two BET original made for TV movies: Incognito (1999) and Playing with Fire (2000).