Ugly Betty star Wilhelmina has Scoliosis

Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams has Scoliosis. Before Vanessa became a famous star through her seasons of Ugly Betty she was to be a dancer.

Vanessa was recently nominated for an Emmy for the 2nd time for her role as the wicked diva Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty. For those of you who have not heard of Ugly Betty, it is an ABS comedy hit show dedicated to Mode magazine and the world of fashion.

Vanessa Williams wanted to be a professional dander with the Joffrey Ballet until those plans were cut short by Scoliosis. (curvature of the spine)

Vanessa is reported to have said "It derailed me for a while,". "It was so severe I had to have a spinal fusion where they put 8-inch metal rods and screws in my spine. I just took off one year where I didn't do any physical activity. But then, of course, I was terrified. It's so strange … It felt like having an operation and then healing and going back to your real body. It was really like having a new center of gravity and getting used to a new body."

She admits, "It was devastating for a while not to be able to dance and know I couldn't be a professional ballerina, but I got to leave the hospital, and when you're in the hospital you realize that some people don't get to leave."

As things turned out, "it was a blessing in disguise because I couldn't dance, and that's when I started acting and fell in love with it. Now I'm so grateful that I've come back from it, and I'm as flexible as I used to be. I feel blessed every day I can get up and walk and run and jump and dance."

We are pleased to hear that Vanessa is managing to cope with her Scoliosis and continue with her life, we are also pleased that she has found a profession that suits her Scoliosis needs. I know many people who found out they had Scoliosis from being a dancer and had to stop because of the operation, however, being a dancer does help build good strong core muscles and we hope that Vanessa manages to keep those muscles supple and strong for the future.

All the best Vanessa and good luck with season 3 of Ugly Betty - we love you!

ScoliosisNutty looking for authors
Do you want to join my blog and become a co-author with me? I am currently looking for people to share my blog experience with. Leave me a comment here if you want to join - looking forward to meeting more people and walking through our Scoliosis lives together - Simone


Tiz said…
HEY! i would LOVE to be a co-author! I know, i might be a bit young (13) BUT I KNOW EXACTLY what scoliosis feels like since i'm sitting right here now in a brace. my curve was 31 degrees at first but after 9 months of bracing, it had decreased to only 20 DEGREES! I always wear my brace correctly so it pays off!
Please let me be a co-author of your blog! I'd do a great job!
My blog is
cristina83 said…
Having a scoliosis, will really lesser our self confidence, but sometimes it doesn't mean having this disease it's the end of the world, all we need is to learn to accept it, there's still other disease, worse than us........." I admit"!! i always have this insecurities in me, but!! there's nothing i can do, this what I look like, this was the Gift of God...SO I ACCEPT IT!! ...just be happy and put a smile in our heart always... that's all!!!
Anonymous said…
Having a scoliosis makes our self confidence lesser, but it doesn't mean having this disease, it's the end of the world!! a BIG NO!!.....
Why?because there worse case than having a scoliosis...But I admit, that I seldom have insecurities in me,But There's nothing i Can do, This is how i look like, and God Gift's so " JUST LEARN TO ACCEPT IT!! and learn to PUT A SMILE IN YOUR HEART.....
Simone Icough said…
Hola Cristina

Thanks for your comment. I have found that Scoliosis has made me more determined in life and a stronger person, I am not ashamed to have had corrective surgery for Scoliosis, nor am I ashamed to tell people I have this condition.

I am always smiling despite the pain I have daily, Scoliosis gives me a fighting spirit and plenty of overcompensation syndrome

Be well and take care xx
Anonymous said…
Hey, i was just wondering does anyone know the degree of which Vanessa's spine was curved? Mine is 50 and I am having the op soon!
thanks x
Simone Icough said…

I am not sure about her curve degree to be honest, I will see if I can find that out.

Good luck with the surgery, mine was 76º when I had mine 20 years ago, where do you live, where is the surgery taking place and do you know where the fusion will start and end and what they are using?

Wishing you the best outcome and a great recovery!

Mine was T5 to L1 and I have a Harrington Rod

Simone :)
Anonymous said…
thankyou for your comment Simone :)
wow 20 years ago! have you been able to live a normal and active life from the op? how is it now?
for mine they are using rods and screws I think, from the top of the spine to the middle, and it will be in London. where was yours? :) x
Simone Icough said…
Hola (sorry I don't know your name)

I don't think a normal life would be the word, no, however, don't be scared by that, unfortunately for me I have a Harrington Rod, which is well known to cause problems in later life

You are in much safer hands these days than we were in 1989 ;)

I spent 1 month in hospital, 7 months in a plaster cast, nowadays I hear of patients walking after 5 days, incredible really!

Rods and screws have a much better outcome and gives your discs and vertebrae some independence and allow you better freedom and ward off pains for the future.

I was great until the age of 18 and sadly it has gone down hill ever since, I do get on with life though and I am always smiling, despite the pain issues :)

Best of luck, who is the surgeon?

Kat said…
I'm considering having the operation next summer (2010). I'm trying to do some research and see what people think that have had the procedure done. I was diagnosed when I was 12, and at the time doctors wouldn't touch me! Now I'm 27 and the pain is really interfering with everyday life. My curve is about 41 degrees. The heating pad is my best friend and I hate the look of my body. Pictures and mirros mortify me! I don't want to wait any longer because surgery is a lot harder the older you get. I'm just really scared of the whole procedure (rods and screws- not Harrington). Anyone have any warming words? Thanks.
Hanna said…
I am to have the same surgery as Vanessa Williams. Thank you so much for posting this! I was terrified at first, to be honest, the surgery news have really put me off but now that I hear of such beautiful actresses having gone through the same stuff, it makes it easier somehow. It's weird - relatives and friends comfort you but you only feel better when you hear of familiar stories with a good ending. Thank you so much for this blog!
Simone Icough said…
Hola Hanna

Thanks for your comment, sorry to hear that you have surgery, I had mine 20 years ago and although I suffer with pain I do have a good and happy life and I have no doubts that you will too, in some ways I am almost jealous of those having surgery now as the corrections are so much better, the recovery time is quicker and the care is better, my surgery was in 1989 and I have a harrington rod which causes problems of its own, the only people we hear from with problems are those who had surgery many years ago, please keep in touch so we know how you are getting along and so that we can support you

If you would like to blog about your Scoliosis journey then you are more than welcome to join our authors here

All the best and read out section on surgery and after care which was written by us patients :)

Take Care Hanna and I wish you well xx
Simone Icough said…
Hola Kat

I am assuming that they would not touch you because the curve was not over 40º at the time you were 12?

Warming words for you yes! Spine surgery has come on in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years really and the patients having surgery now are recovering very well, the rods and screws so far seem to be much better than the rods they used years ago (I have a Harrington), usually patients are up and walking within 5 days and back to normal activities within the year, the after care is better and the pain relief is easier, don't misunderstand me, you will have pain but the control of pain these days is better also, I would easily swap and have my first surgery done in 2009

You are right to have the surgery now so that your recovery is better, the younger the better for your sake

Have you considered doing Yoga before your surgery or has your Dr advised you against any exercise pre surgery?

We will support you all the way and I have every confidence that your surgery will be a success, where do you live, are you happy with your surgeon selection?

All the best

Simone xx
Anonymous said…
I'm 42 years old and I too have scoliosis. I had to have surgery in 1979, due to the severity of the curvature. The surgery consisted of bone being removed and then replaced by bone from my hip; then a Harrington rod was fused to the spine. I do have complications now and worry that as I age they will only get worse.
roberta.360 said…
I do know that this was posted a few years ago but I myself have had scoliosis and surgery. I am 14 now, and had the surgery 3 months ago. My curvature was 27 degrees on the top, 58 in the middle, and 30(i think) on the bottom. I had 2 rods put in with screws, and half of 4 ribs taken out to fuse my back. It was 3 months yesterday from when I had the surgery and my life if pretty much back to normal. I am almost straight, and not ashamed of how I look anymore. I mean, I cant run, play sports dance etc at the moment, but I can move my body more, walk normal and just be myself again! I'm so glad its all over for me. I hope one day I can be like Vanessa Williams I LOVE watching Ugly Betty with my mum and I also have gone back to my drama lessons which is so awesome, everything is slowly getting back to normal:)
sarah said…
I am 60 and had scoliosis surgery in 1964 - it was a different world then. Pretty brutal, though they were doing the best at the time. Harrington rods can be removed, its not a big deal. when mine came out, (I was in my 40s) i had a costoplasty as well, - shortening of some ribs to reduce hump size. i ve been lucky, no pain but the psychological impact has pretty much ruled my life and still does.
Anonymous said…
Hi there,
I'm 23 and also have scoliosis. I'm not exactly sure of the degree of curvature as i haven't been accessed by a professional yet. I suffered with severe anorexia nervosa as a teenager ,so i was advised by Doctors to leave it untreated until i recovered.

Unfortunately, by the time i fully recovered, i was already an adult with the deformity (which i believe is harder to treat than an adolescent with the disease).

I have alot of regrets about not getting it seen to earlier, as now, i believe it has only progressed. I have all the symptoms - uneven hips, uneven shoulders, protruding shoulder blade and back pain. I must admit, i get very depressed over it as it has lowered my self confidence immensely.

I even grew my hair long so the protrusion wouldn't be as noticeable. Lol. However, it's somewhat comforting to know that other people have experienced the same and that i'm not alone with this. Thanks!

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