*Thirty-two years after she was force to give up her Miss America crown over naked photos, Vanessa Williams is returning to the pageant stage on Sunday…this time, as a judge.
Williams, the first African-American Miss America, won the title in 1984 but resigned after Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photographs of her taken several years earlier.
“It was two drastically different images — that was the issue. It was Miss America, who is really kind of untouched and not reality, and then there was this woman in the picture that was the polar opposite of purity, and I was a normal kid in the middle,” Williams said in a tease of her “Good Morning America” interview, set for Thursday. ”That’s one of the problems I’ve had to deal with in my career, not only being a Miss America, but being a scandalous Miss America.”
Sam Haskell, executive chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, said his friendship with Williams predated the turmoil caused by the release of the photos.
“I have been friends with Vanessa for 32 years,” he told The Associated Press. “When the photos were published, there were people urging her to fight, but close supporters knew if she lost that fight that she would be completely removed from the history books.”
Haskell has been trying for 10 years to get Williams back on the Miss America stage, but this was the first year her schedule didn’t conflict with the program.
Williams joins pageant hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.
The 2016 Miss America Pageant begins competition on Tuesday and culminates in the crowning of the next Miss America on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 9 p.m.
Below, watch a tease of Vanessa’s interview with “GMA’s” Robin Roberts, airing on Thursday, Sept. 10.