Betty Cantrell, the recently crowned Miss America 2016, is “thrilled” Vanessa Williams is back in the Miss America fold. Williams, the model and actress best known for her role as Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty, received an apology from representatives of the Miss America pageant at this year’s ceremony on Sunday (13th September). The apology comes 32 years after Williams was forced to resign her Miss America crown.

Betty CantrellMiss America 2016, Betty Cantrell, at the ceremonial toe-dip on the beach in front of Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City in September 2015.

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"We have her [Williams] back as a Miss America sister, and we were all so thrilled and so happy to welcome her back into the sisterhood and have her as a judge… I think that that was incredible," Cantrell said in an interview with E!. "Her song was beautiful, she rocked it. She looks incredible, just like all the former Miss Americas or forever Miss Americas and I'm honoured that she believed in me enough to give me this title."

Williams made history in 1983 when she became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America. However, Williams’ did not complete her year in the position as she was forced to resign 10 months into her reign. Her resignation came after nude photographs of Williams, taken years before she competed in the pageant, surfaced. The pictures were published in Penthouse without Williams’ permission. Williams had also received a series of death threats, simply because she was the first African-American winner of the pageant. 

Williams resigned after pressure from the pageant organisers and because of concerns for her safety after receiving death threats. 

52-year-old Williams performed ‘Oh How The Years Go By’ on Miss America on Sunday and alluded to the troubles she had encountered with pictures of the newspaper headlines concerning her resignation displayed on screens in the background.

Vanessa WilliamsVanessa Williams performing at the Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September 2015.

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Following her performance, 32 years after her crown had been taken from her, she received an apology from the pageant organisers. Sam Haskell III, the current CEO and executive chairman of the competition, issued the apology in person.

"I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years," Haskell said, as Today reports. "You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned."

"Though none of us currently in the organisation were involved then, on behalf of today's organization I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Ms. Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."

Watch Vanessa Williams Perform On Miss America: