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Vanessa Williams transforms into Dolly Parton on 'Celebrity Drag Race'

The 57-year-old former beauty queen said she wanted to do the show to step outside her comfort zone.
/ Source: TODAY

Vanessa Williams made a stunning transformation into Dolly Parton on the celebrity edition of "RuPaul's Drag Race," where the former beauty queen performed a spin on the classic "9 to 5."

Williams, 57, wore a red sequined dress and a blonde wig to perform "Twerkin' 5 to 9" alongside comedian Loni Love and reality star Tami Roman. The "Colors of the Wind" singer looked nearly unrecognizable as she worked the stage, although Williams said the performance was "out of my comfort zone."

"When I signed up for doing this, I was like, ‘OK, I always like to challenge myself.’ Because that's how you continue to learn, continue to grow — especially as I'm aging. That's what keeps you young. That's what keeps the fire going. It's that uncertainty that makes it special," she said.

Each celebrity contestant is paired with a previous queen from "Drag Race" to help them prepare for their performance. Williams worked with season 10 finalist Asia O'Hara, who had big praise for the "Desperate Housewives" actress.

rupaul's drag race celeb vanessa williams dolly parton
Vanessa Williams as Dolly Parton with Trinity the Tuck, Alyssa Edwards and Asia O'Hara.VH1 / VH1

“Oh my God… to know someone that has had her career for 30 years and is still seeking out new opportunities and finding new ways to fall in love with life, that's very inspiring,” O'Hara said.

Williams ended up winning the competition, earning $30,000 for the charity of her choice: The Trevor Project.

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Vanessa Williams as Dolly Parton from "9 to 5."VH1

During the episode, Williams also opened up about the scandal that shaped her life and career.

“When I was Miss America at 20 years old, my life completely changed, but also gave me the biggest kick in the a** of my life, with life lessons," she shared. "You know, having hate mail, having death threats: ‘You're not black enough.’ ‘You're too black.’ That was the grueling part of my life."

vanessa williams drag race celebrity
Vanessa Williams as her drag alter ego, Vanqueisha De House.VH1

Despite the negativity, the "Save the Best for Last" singer discovered a silver-lining in that experience, something she still carries to this day.

"But it doesn't change your talent, your essence, your integrity. That just continues to grow and blossom," she explained. "The act of regaining your power comes slowly and with pivotal moments. And it's those little episodes that make you say, ‘I'm going to fight for what I feel is right.'"