03/16/2012 11:40 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Vanessa Williams' Beauty Evolution (PHOTOS)

If there was a class for rising stars on how to overcome controversy, Vanessa Williams would be the perfect teacher. Crowned the first black Miss America in 1983, her triumph was marred by scandal when nude photos published in Penthouse magazine forced Williams to relinquish her title. However, she went on to stage a great comeback.

In 1988, Wlliams released her debut album "The Right Stuff," which earned gold status and three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. She followed up with two successful albums ("The Comfort Zone" and "The Sweetest Days") and took Broadway by storm as the lead character in the show "Kiss of the Spider Woman." While having starred in major films like "Soul Food" and "Eraser," played on TV comedy-dramas "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives," fronted Proactiv Solution skin care systemand most recently became the voice of M&M's spokescandy Ms. Brown, Williams' greatest role ever may be as the mother of four children.

In celebration of Williams' 49th birthday (March 18th), we take a look back at the star's makeup and hairstyles over the years. Vote on all her looks in the slideshow below and weigh in on Williams' red carpet style.

Click through our other Beauty Evolutions.

Have something to say? Be sure to check out Stylelist on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Vanessa Williams' Beauty Evolution (PHOTOS)