Hometown: Tupelo, MS
Platform: AIM- Arts Integration Matters
Talent: Classical Vocal “Sempre Libera”
What college did you attend, or are currently attending? Samford University
What is your major? Vocal Performance
What is your scholastic ambition? I plan to continue my education and obtain a Master’s and PhD in Music to become an Applied Voice Instructor on the collegiate level.
List scholastic honors: Deans List (GPA of 3.5 and above); Elvis Presley Music Scholarship Recipient; Communication Arts Speech Award Winner; ACT Scholar; Samford University School of the Arts Scholarship Recipient; Samford University Academic Scholarship Recipient; Tupelo Community Theatre Scholarship Recipient; Alice Anderson Scholarship Recipient
Greatest non-academic accomplishment: In January 2016, I was one of four representatives in the United States selected to compete in the finals of the National Opera Association’s Collegiate Opera Scenes competition.
What is your favorite style of music? Music is my passion, my inspiration, and my career. Because of this, I have grown to have an appreciation for almost any style of music. I love everything from pop rock to classical, bluegrass to hip-hop, R&B to musical theatre, and indie to soul. My tastes are very eclectic: I think that’s what makes me a true music lover.
What is your favorite movie genre and why? I would consider myself an “old soul”, particularly when it comes to my taste in movies. No surprise, I love movie musicals! I could watch hours of Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Julie Andrews, and Shirley Jones in their iconic film roles.
What is your favorite gadget? As much as I wish I could detach from it more often, my cell phone is my favorite and most useful gadget. It allows me to communicate with colleagues, clients, friends, and family and keeps me on top of news and events going on around me.
What is your favorite blog? I consider myself an avid theatre lover, and I love to stay up to date with the New York theatre scene through reading broadwaymusicalblog.com. It posts reviews for new productions, lists audition opportunities, and interviews current theatre stars.
What is your favorite place to visit? Without a doubt, New York City! I could see two shows a day, seven days a week, if that were possible. For me, there’s nothing quite like the “Great White Way”!
What is your favorite food? Sugar and bread! I joked when I recently told a friend that all I had to do to prepare for the swimsuit competition was cut out those two things! In all honesty, though, I could survive off of the dessert table.
If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you? If I only got to take along one book, I would definitely want my Bible. There is no other book that could give me the hope and comfort I would need to maintain my strength. However, if I got to choose more than one, I would also take along a book of Rodgers and Hammerstein sheet music. Nothing brings me joy like singing the sweet songs of golden age musical theatre.
Do you twitter? I have a twitter account but I rarely tweet. I’ve never really gotten into the limited character status updates. I prefer instagram where I can see pictures of friends and family.
What is your favorite?
Sport: Tennis Sports Team: Ole Miss Rebels (Hotty Toddy!)
Actor: Cary Grant Actress: Audrey Hepburn
Television Program: Grey’s Anatomy
Wardrobe Accessory: SHOES!
Thing to do on a weekend: Shopping, reading, exploring new places
Way to spend a day off: Shopping, relaxing, and attending a concert or theatrical performance
What is your hometown like? Tupelo was formerly a small town that is now booming with new retail and industrial development. It boasts the title of “All American City” and the birthplace of Elvis, “the King.” For me, Tupelo still feels like a big family, since people call me by name, ask about my family, and support my endeavors.
What were you like when you were a child? I’m told that I was a grown-up in a little person’s body and I enjoyed being in the company of people older than I was. I was in my element when I was entertaining someone and I took advantage of every opportunity to put on a show.
Who is the most influential person in your life? My mom is now and has always been the most influential person in my life. She’s taught me to live a life of purpose and influence and she’s an example of a woman of character and integrity.
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? My classic interests and my “straight arrow” ways may cause people to mislabel me. But I’m very much a fun-loving, open-minded person who seeks new adventures.
Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title: By far, one of the most defining moments in my life thus far was the birth of my brother, Hogan, in 1998. No one ever loved a brother more than I love Hogan; he’s my most treasured relationship and my best friend. Whoever wants to marry him has to go through me first!
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program? Taking part in the Miss America Program has taught me to be a better version of myself by practicing “habitual excellence.” I’ve focused on modeling this quote from Aristotle: “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service? I want to inspire our citizens to dream big, take risks, and live a life of grace. As Miss Mississippi, my goal will be to reach out to as many people as possible and to share the messages of community growth, economic prosperity, cultural awareness and of course, to value education. I want to encourage everyone to AIM higher, knowing we all have the ability to achieve excellence.
What is your secret wish or dream? I want to be the first Mississippi girl in thirty years to win Miss America. I believe I have what it takes to bring home the crown and make Mississippians proud.
I’m motivated by: Myself. I was taught that one’s confidence comes from being sure of your purpose. I am sure that I was put on this earth to be an extraordinary example of loving others, which for me personally, is exemplified by Christ’s love. That assurance is what motivates me to be my best every day.
Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform? I grew up with opportunities for artistic expression in singing, dancing and acting; a large part of my success stems from those experiences being integrated into my core education. On a broader scale, I see arts programs impacting the growth and economic prosperity of my community and others.
What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime? I’ve grown up with the technology explosion. I think technology will continue to be a huge influence in my life and I’ll need to stay ahead of the curve and know to use new technologies to benefit my career and my personal life.
The one thing I can’t live without: My voice. Whoever I am and whatever I feel, I express that through my singing. I know that I love fearlessly and live life fully, and that passion is channeled through my voice.
Something interesting about my family: My family is fairly musical. I sing, my brother plays guitar, my dad plays the bass and drums, and my mom plays the piano. We have a sort of family band. When we’re together we play through our favorites, tackling a range of music from pop hits to hymns and show tune to Christmas carols.
Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me: I’m a class ‘A’ klutz; I’ve run into glass doors, tripped on stairs, and twisted my ankle while performing. But I remember feeling really embarrassed at a very young age. I was around six and I was shopping with my mother and grandmother, and touching everything I admired. I was stroking the back of a store mannequin and saying, “Isn’t it beautiful.” It turned out that I was actually stroking the behind of a store clerk, who gave me a shocked look when she saw a six year old girl admiring her behind! I never touch mannequins today.
One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me: I’m only a moderate adrenaline junkie. I love roller coasters and trying ‘semi-adventurous’ things but I would really love to bungee jump. I’ve always thought it looked like a huge thrill but, so far, I haven’t had both the opportunity and the nerve on the same day. It’s definitely on my bucket list!
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names. Sandy is my eight year-old toy poodle, by far the favorite child, and quite spoiled!