Vanessa Williams Joins "Desperate Housewives" Cast

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Loved former Wisteria Lane inhabitants Dana Delaney and Nicolette Sheridan, but my bet is that Vanessa Williams will be the most exciting addition to Desperate Housewives in years.

The former Miss America and Ugly Betty star talked to AfterElton.com about leaving Betty’s Wilhelmina Slater behind and stepping into the shoes of her new Housewives character of Renee Perry.

Here’s an excerpt:

AfterElton: How long did you make Marc Cherry beg before you agreed to join Desperate Housewives?
Vanessa Williams:
[laughs] Oh, I didn’t make him beg at all. We had a meeting Thursday and the deal was signed by Monday noontime, so it came so quickly. It’s the quickest deal I’ve ever done, so I think we were both, you know, excited and happy.

AE: Now tell me about Renee and what is going to appeal to us gay guys about this character.
Well, I mean, she ain’t no Wilhelmina. She’s a New Yorker who comes into the lane and comments on the difference between New York and the suburban life often. Her dress is certainly not Wilhelmina as well, but she tries to do her best in terms of bringing style and flair to the lane. And she’s a little bit passive-aggressive so she tends to ruffle some feathers.

She’s certainly not creating the amount of fear and trepidation and the amount of scheming that Wilhelmina had on a weekly basis, but she’s mixin’ it up. We’ve shot… we’re on episode seven now, so it’s been kind of tasty. I’ve been able to work with each woman kind of one-on-one for at least an episode or so, so it’s kind of nice to delve into each person’s world and stir it up.

AE: Now when did you realize that you, Vanessa Williams, had become a gay icon?
The first time was probably when I heard people saying, “Have you seen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert? They sing “Saved the Best for Last” at the end, you gotta see it!”- and that was years ago.

But in terms of Wilhelmina and Ugly Betty and that persona, I don’t know. The thing about my career is, I’ve done so many things in terms of my recording career and Broadway, you know, I’ve performed in tons of different venues, doing “Running Back to You” at the AIDS Dance-A-Thon back in the day. I don’t think there was one pivotal moment where I said, you know, I’ve made it as a gay icon. [laughs]

Read more at Greg in Hollywood