'Daytime Divas' Playlist: Vanessa Williams Talks New Show, Her Daughter's Music Career and 'Desperate Housewives'

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Courtesy of VH1
Vanessa Williams in Daytime Divas.

A great diva is never away for too long. Multi-talented singer, actress and fashion designer Vanessa Williams will grace our screens again, as the star of VH1's new scripted series Daytime Divas. Based on the book Satan's Sisters, written by former The View host Star Jones, the show centers around Maxine Robinson (Williams), the creator and lead host of the fictional daytime television show The Lunch Hour.

To prepare for the show's premiere tonight (June 5), Williams put together a special playlist of her favorite divas, including Donna Summer, Alicia Keys and her daughter's band, Lion Babe. She also talked to Billboard about the show, typecasting and whether or not she'd be up for Desperate Housewives revival.

It's great to see you back on television. How did you hear about the role?

Star Jones called me at home. She said that her book was optioned for 10 episodes. At the time, I hadn't read the book, so she sent me it with the script. I also knew there was a 10-episode guarantee. That gives me time to take a character somewhere for 10 episodes, as opposed to doing just one pilot and crossing your fingers that it gets picked up.

The book is very juicy and pretty much on point in terms of the character she portrayed. She told me she wrote the book after she had open-heart surgery and the doctor told her she needed to do something every day to exercise her brain -- to make sure everything was functioning. That's how she started to write the book. She told me that every story was something that happened to her, or to someone she had tried in court, or someone she interviewed. She has a wealth of knowledge about these things, especially with her attorney background.

Do you feel like you're typecasted as a diva?

Its nice to be the ‘go to’ person. You carve your niche and people know you can bring a certain aspect. When they want to pin the entire show on it, it's pretty important. I have tried to do other things. I had a pilot for Fox which was about the sports world and I played a sports TV mogul -- that didn't work. I had another piece of material that we were shopping where I was a sex therapist --  that didn't work. It's not like I refuse to try roles other than being a strong female boss, but I am 54 and I'm happy I'm still being sort after and that I have a career that allows me a lot of creativity.

With all the recent revivals of past TV shows -- Gilmore Girls, Will & Grace and now Roseanne -- your previous co-star Felicity Huffman has expressed interest in reviving Desperate Housewives. Would you be interested in being part of that?

Sure, I had great time with those gals. Everyone now has gone on to do their own spin-off shows. I had a great time on Wisteria Lane -- for sure I’d be interested. 

You made us a diva-themed playlist, with songs from Alicia Keys, Janelle Monáe, Jill Scott, among others. How did you choose the songs?

They are literally off my iTunes playlist. I wanted to choose music that was strong, positive and optimistic. I’m on the comeback and wanted to choose songs that were resilient and strong.

Check out Williams' Daytime Divas playlist below:

1. "I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan

2. “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer
"It's a homage to the working woman: no matter what job you're doing, it's hard work."

3. “Blessed” by Jill Scott

4. “Unbreakable” by Alicia Keys

5. “Angel of the Night” by Angela Bofill

​​6. “Wonder Woman” by Lion Babe
"'Wonder Woman' by my daughter Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe, is a reflection of my work ethic mirrored in her, which was passed down by my mother, Helen Williams, who's still going strong at age 77."

7. “Keep On Walkin’” by CeCe Peniston

8. “Wikked Lil' Grrrls” by Esthero

9. “Tightrope” by Janelle Monáe

10. “Work to Do” by Vanessa Williams
"It’s a working women's theme. I do it for my encore. It gets everyone up and I dedicate it to the women in the audience who work. It doesn't matter if you're at the office or you're at home -- there is still work that has to be done."

11. “Can We Change the World” by Maysa

Daytime Divas premieres Monday (June 5) at 10/9 p.m. CT on VH1.