"Welcome to the lesson of hard knocks," says Williams, who also overcame a photo scandal

By Kristin Boehm
September 17, 2007 01:00 PM

Posing for nude photos may have cost Vanessa Williams her Miss America crown in 1984, but the Ugly Betty star says Vanessa Hudgens will survive her own racy photos scandal.

“She’s got talent and she’s professional, and those are the things that’ll help her survive in life,” Williams, 44, said at the ET/PEOPLE Emmy party on Sunday. “You know, welcome to the lesson of hard knocks. She got her first big one right now.”

More than two decades ago, Williams was pressured to give up her crown and at least $2 million worth of contracts after the images appeared in Penthouse, but she was successful in her fight back to the top. Appearing on the cover of PEOPLE shortly after the scandal broke, Williams said, “I am not a lesbian and I am not a slut, and somehow I am going to make people believe me.”

The fallout after the nude pic "taken privately" of Hudgens, 18, surfaced on several Web sites on Sept. 6 was minimal. The young star apologized to fans and has kept a low profile the past few weeks, but Disney stands behind the actress and she has not lost any of her endorsement deals.

“I met her and she’s a very sweet talented girl and I’ve seen High School Musical 2 a zillion times because of my kids … and she’ll be fine,” Williams said.

Reporting by JED DREBEN

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