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Nevada Ballet Theatre Names Multi-talented Entertainer Vanessa Williams As The 2017 Woman Of The Year For The 33rd Annual Black & White Ball

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Nevada Ballet Theatre (NBT) announces today that renowned singer, actress, author and fashion designer, Vanessa Williams, will serve as Woman of the Year for the 33rd Annual Black & White Ball, with The Howard Hughes Corporation® (NYSE: HHC) as the Presenting Sponsor. As a Tony Award, Grammy Award and three-time Emmy Award nominated performer, Williams' dedication to the performing arts through her varied and esteemed career, as well as her unwavering philanthropy to numerous charitable causes, will be celebrated on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at ARIA Resort & Casino, CityCenter, as part of the 45-year-old ballet company's largest annual fundraiser and one of the city's most highly-anticipated social events. 

Nevada Ballet Theatre Names Multi-talented Entertainer Vanessa Williams As The 2017 Woman Of The Year For The 33rd Annual Black & White Ball

Williams has stood at the forefront of the entertainment industry for twenty-eight years. As a singer, she graced the top of the charts, selling millions of records around the globe and delighting audiences on the stages of Broadway, earning a Tony Award nomination for her performance as the "Witch" in Into the Woods. As an actress, she has starred and appeared in numerous films such as "Eraser," and "Shaft" as well as the 1998 dance film "Dance with Me," showcasing her ballroom and Latin dance acumen.  Williams also enjoyed popularity in iconic TV shows such as Ugly Betty, for which she received three Emmy Award nominations, Desperate Housewives and The Good Wife among many others.

"Vanessa Williams is a well-respected artist whose versatile career path and longevity is one to be admired," said NBT Board Co-Founder and Board Co-Chair Nancy Houssels.  "Growing up immersed in music and dance, Vanessa's ambition and drive forged an amazing career that has touched every facet of the entertainment industry," added Houssels. "As our 2017 Woman of the Year, we will celebrate not only her artistic talents, but also her giving spirit as evidenced in her work with charities such as Special Olympics, where she has served on the board for over 20 years."

As the Presenting Sponsor of NBT's 2017 Black & White Ball, David R. Weinreb, Chief Executive Officer of The Howard Hughes Corporation, will serve as the event dinner chair.  Weinreb and Williams have a lifelong friendship that began when they were in grade school and includes their time together as star leads in their high school stage band.  Additionally, The Howard Hughes Corporation has a special relationship with NBT whose company headquarters are located in Summerlin® on land donated in part by The Howard Hughes Corporation.

"We are honored to have the support and participation of The Howard Hughes Corporation this year," said Houssels. "We are so grateful for our long-standing relationship with the company."

"What an honor to be acknowledged for my artistry at this year's Black and White Ball by NBT," said Vanessa Williams. "Dance has been a part of my life from the very beginning. This event will be the culmination of my love for the arts and the achievements in my career that I can reflect on."

Now in its 33rd year, NBT's Black & White Ball hosts an array of VIPs, celebrities, dignitaries and arts supporters for one of the most exciting events of the Las Vegas social season. Garnering media attention locally and nationally, this star-studded affair boasts an impressive list of arts and entertainment icons who have served as its Woman of the Year including: Chita Rivera (2002), Celine Dion (2004), Paula Abdul (2007), Twyla Tharp (2008), Marie Osmond (2009), Bette Midler (2010), Eva Longoria (2012), Florence Henderson (2014), Debbie Allen (2015), and most recently Olivia Newton-John (2016).

As a consummate and ever-changing artist, Williams continues to extend her talents into new industries; in 2012, she made her debut in the literary world with the New York Times Bestseller "You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)" which she co-authored with her mother.  In 2016, she launched her first clothing collection, "V. for Vanessa Williams" for digital retailer and television network, EVINE Live.

Funds raised from the Black & White Ball support a variety of endeavors including professional company ballet productions at NBT's world-class performance home, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts; quality dance instruction within its affiliated school, the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre; and dance programs and initiatives for at-risk youth through its Education and Outreach Programs that serve over 20,000 students a year. 


Vanessa Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today.  She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures.  She has sold millions of albums worldwide and has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television. 

Her albums "The Right Stuff," "The Comfort Zone and "The Sweetest Days" earned multiple Grammy nominations and have yielded such classic hits as "Save the Best For Last," "Dreamin," "Work To Do," "Love Is," the Academy Award-winning single "Colors of the Wind," from Disney's "Pocahontas," and many others.  Her recordings also include two holiday albums, "Star Bright" and "Silver & Gold," "Vanessa Williams Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years" and "Everlasting Love," a romantic collection of love songs from the 1970's.  Concord Records released Vanessa's, "The Real Thing," in June 2009, for which she received a NAACP nomination for Outstanding Jazz Artist.

In 1994, Vanessa took Broadway by storm when she replaced Chita Rivera in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," winning the hearts of critics and becoming a box-office sensation.  In 2002 she garnered rave reviews and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the Witch in the revival of "Into the Woods."  She also headlined a limited special engagement of the classic, "Carmen Jones," at the Kennedy Center and starred in the Encore! series staged concert production of "St. Louis Woman." After appearing on stage in Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine's "Sondheim on Sondheim," an original Broadway musical that ran in the spring of 2010 at The Roundabout Theatre, Vanessa returned to the stage in 2013 where she starred alongside Cicely Tyson as Jessie Mae Watts, the self-involved daughter-in-law to Tyson's Mother Watts, an elderly widow wishing to revisit her home town, in the Tony-nominated play, "The Trip to Bountiful." In early 2014, Vanessa reprised her role as Jessie Mae for Lifetime's television adaptation of the Horton Foote classic during Black History Month.

Vanessa made her film debut in 1986 in "Under the Gun" and has starred in features such as "Eraser," "Hoodlum," "Soul Food," "Dance With Me," "Light It Up," "Shaft" and "Johnson Family Vacation." More recently, her film credits have come to include the independent features, "My Brother," "Somebody Like You" and Disney's feature film, "Hannah Montana: The Movie." Vanessa was last seen on the screen in Tyler Perry's "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor."

On television, Vanessa has starred in such movies and mini-series as "Stompin' at the Savoy," "The Boy Who Loved Christmas," "The Jacksons: An American Dream," ABC's revival of "Bye, Bye Birdie," "Nothing Lasts Forever," "The Odyssey," "Don Quixote" and "Keep the Faith, Baby." She executive produced and starred in Lifetime's "The Courage to Love" for Lifetime and the VH1 Original Movie, "A Diva's Christmas Carol."  Vanessa starred in ABC's critically-acclaimed hit series, "Ugly Betty," earning three Emmy nominations as the deliciously wicked Wilhelmina Slater, in addition to numerous individual and ensemble awards and nominations, including SAG, Golden Globes and NAACP Image Awards. She received an Emmy nomination for her voice-over performance in the 2009 PBS series, "Mama Mirabelle Home Movies."  In 2010, she moved to Wisteria Lane to stir things up as the newest resident on ABC's long-running hit, "Desperate Housewives," winning an NAACP Image Award helping to carry the show to the end of its 8-year run in 2012. Vanessa played Olivia, the stylish wife of the devilish Gavin (Terry O'Quinn) in the ABC supernatural drama "666 Park Avenue" and recently guest-starred on "Royal Pains," "The Good Wife" and "Broad City." Vanessa will have a character arch in the third season of "The Librarians" on TNT, and will star in the upcoming scripted drama series, "Satan's Sisters," based off of Star Jones' book airing on VH1 next year.

In 2007, Vanessa achieved a career pinnacle, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her accomplishments as a performer. In December 2010, the International Foreign Press Academy named Vanessa as the recipient of the 2010 Mary Pickford Award For Outstanding Artistic Contribution to the Entertainment Industry. The award honors her international achievements and success in film, television, stage and recording over the past 28 years. Her charitable endeavors are many and varied, embracing and supporting such organizations as Special Olympics, The Eye Bank and many others. 


Under the artistic direction of James Canfield, Nevada Ballet Theatre is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Las Vegas and the largest professional ballet company and dance Academy in the state. Committed to the highest artistic standards, this classically-based company is at home in an eclectic repertory, moving easily from the classics to the high-energy contemporary ballets. The mission of Nevada Ballet Theatre is to educate and inspire statewide, regional and national audiences and vitally impact community life through professional company productions, dance training and education and outreach. Nevada Ballet Theatre is the resident ballet company of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.


Developed by The Howard Hughes Corporation, Summerlin began to take shape in 1990 and has ranked in the country's top 10 best-selling master-planned communities for nearly two decades. Located along the western rim of the Las Vegas valley, Summerlin encompasses 22,500 acres with approximately 7,000 gross acres still remaining to accommodate future growth, including infrastructure, open space and common areas, all within the master plan. The community is currently home to more than 100,000 residents who enjoy an unparalleled list of amenities. These include more than 150 neighborhood and village parks, more than 150 completed miles of trails, 22 public and private schools, 14 houses of worship, nine golf courses, shopping centers, medical and cultural facilities, business parks and dozens of actively selling floor plans. Homes are available in a variety of styles – from single-family homes to townhomes and condominiums. For information about Summerlin's newest neighborhoods and amenities visit


The Howard Hughes Corporation owns, manages and develops commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate throughout the U.S. Our properties include master planned communities, operating properties, development opportunities and other unique assets spanning 16 states from New York to Hawai'i. The Howard Hughes Corporation is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as HHC with major offices in New York, Columbia, MD, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and Honolulu. For additional information about HHC, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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