She is a mix of Filipino, Spanish, Irish and Italian. Growing up, she moved a lot due to her father's military service and attended eight different schools in nine years. Her parents separated in 1983 and officially divorced three years later. Vanessa is estranged from her mother.
Vanessa Minnillo lived with her father and went to high school in South Carolina and spent a year in high school in San Bernardino, California.
She told Maxim, "My whole life I've been scrutinized because I'm ethnic. So I've had to prove myself from the inside out.all my friends had blonde hair and blue eyes, and there I was, looking like I look."
Vanessa Minnillo burst onto the scene when she was crowned Miss South Carolina Teen USA and went on to win Miss Teen USA in 1998. She got more than $150,000 in cash and prizes and was named Miss Congeniality by her peers. When asked if she would take a pill that would keep her young forever, she said, "Yes. I'm having the time of my life and I'd like to remain this age forever" (people.com). With her increased exposure, she became a host of MTV's "Total Request Live" and then a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight."
She later co-hosted the Miss Universe pageant, and hosted "True Beauty," and co-hosted "Wipeout." Vanessa Minnillo has also appeared in advertising for BONGO Jeans, as well as features in magazines such as Maxim, Shape and Lucky. She has been a spokesperson for Flirt! Cosmetics.
In 2007, Vanessa Minnillo confronted a small controversy when provocative photos of she and Lindsay Lohan holding knives were leaked on the internet. Vanessa told OK! Magazine, "As a woman, my body is a temple, it's mine. So it was embarrassing. But we did nothing wrong."
Her television acting credits include roles on "30 Rock," "The Bold and the Beautiful," "Psych," "Hawaii 5-0," "How I Met Your Mother" and the feature film "Disaster Movie."
Vanessa Minnillo married Nick Lachey. She has since changed her name to Vanessa Lachey. In September 2012, she gave birth to their first child, a son, Camden John Lachey. Vanessa said, "All of my hopes and dreams have come true and he is awesome. I was actually joking earlier that if Nick could nurse Camden he would. If he had boobs, he would do it."