Vanessa Williams Discusses Her Return to Music After 15 Years (Exclusive)

Vanessa Williams speaks with ET about her recent single, 'Legs (Keep Dancing),' and musical plans for the future.

Vanessa Williams delighted fans and took the internet by storm last month when she released her first new song in 15 years. As it turns out, she's been aching to make new music for years, and finally took matters into her own hands.

The 61-year-old Ugly Betty star was in attendance at the 50th annual Good Neighbor Gala in New York City on Thursday -- an event benefiting the non-profit organization Community Access -- and she spoke with ET about her new single, "Legs (Keep Dancing)," and its viral music video.

"It was a long time coming," Williams said of her new song. "I mean, I've been trying to get out there for the past 15 years to get a record deal and make music again. I think it was just the time to just do it myself and to stop waiting for somebody to give me an opportunity, but to make the opportunity happen for myself."

To accomplish this, Williams said she "got an amazing executive team that has helped put the music together" and brought together a group of "extraordinary creators that I've worked with." Then, ultimately, it was about "just doing it myself" and not waiting for permission.

The single dropped late last month, in which Williams pokes fun at her age in the lyrics while also inciting the envy of decades-younger viewers by flaunting her flawless legs and on-point dance moves in the accompanying music video.

"I'm happy that it's also an anthem ... for women who are my age and older, you know?" Williams shared. "We're still here, we still have stuff to say, we still are not fading away."

The video took off in a big way online when it first dropped, with many fans blown away by her impressive moves. The positive feedback and support both delighted and surprised Williams.

"I was surprised because I love to dance. I assume most of my fans back from the 1980s, when my first album came out, know I danced in all my videos. So it's nice to have the old school see me do what they love," Williams shared. "But also these young people, that only know me from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, and they go, 'Oh, I didn't know she could sing! Oh, I didn't know she could dance!' So, you know, it's great to kind of reintroduce myself to my fans, but also get new fans."

In a press release about the single, Williams noted that the title was inspired by her late co-star, Diahann Carroll, whose 2008 memoir was titled The Legs Are the Last To Go.

"Diahann played my mother in a movie I produced, The Courage to Love, and has always been a huge inspiration for me," she noted. "I remember seeing her talking to Oprah about her autobiography.  She spoke so beautifully and confidently about her age and power and the fact that beauty fades but your legs give you strength and are the last to go."

Apart from serving up great new music, and serving as an inspiration for her fans, Williams also did her part to give back by performing at Thursday's charity gala in New York City.

Williams explained to ET why Community Access -- which is an organization devoted to providing employment and housing opportunities to those struggling with mental health issues and homelessness -- is so important to her, and why she felt compelled to participate in the benefit.

"I believe that homelessness is something you really can't avoid right now, particularly in New York City, and it's an epidemic across the country," Williams shared. "It's wonderful that I can be here as part of the 50th anniversary for an organization that actually helps give aid to the people that are unfortunately suffering in a homeless situation. Really, it's a no brainer."