Former Miss America and pop singer Vanessa Williams has never met New Jack City actress Vanessa Williams, yet, besides the obvious, they have a lot in common: Both are from New York, both are in their 20s, and both have burgeoning acting careers.
Confusing? You bet. When New Jack City came out, a review in the New York Daily News noted that the ”dethroned Miss America continues to hone her thespic skills.” And when Fox announced that its Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off, Melrose Place, would feature Vanessa Williams, the Palm Beach Post wrote that the show would ”have an ensemble cast that includes former Miss America Vanessa Williams.” Both papers identified the wrong Vanessa.
Even the Screen Actors Guild is unsure about who is who, despite rules designed to avoid just such a problem. ”No two members can have the same name or a name so similar that it causes confusion,” says Mark Locher, SAG’s national director of communication. To that end, the former beauty queen is listed in SAG as Vanessa L. Williams, though she doesn’t use the initial. But SAG won’t call her on the carpet unless ”the other Vanessa (who registered her name first) raises an objection,” Locher says. That’s unlikely because the Melrose Place Vanessa sees no problem: ”There’s enough work for both of us,” she says genially. Maybe they could both star in the same movie: The Two Faces of V.