Katelyn Perry was singing before she could talk, and even as a 3-year-old, she never missed an opportunity to be on stage with a microphone in hand.
Her penchant for performing led her to the pageant world, where she now has 23 years’ experience as a contestant, emcee, judge, director and coach. Now the reigning Miss Gulf Coast, Perry is excited to compete for a statewide title in the Miss Mississippi pageant, set for June 18-25 in Vicksburg.
“This will be my fourth time competing, and I feel good about the preparations I have been making since winning my title in December,” Perry says. “I’m not typically a person who gets nervous for things like this, but I’m ready to be there and see how it all plays out while simultaneously wishing I had an extra six months to prepare!”
Many assume that pageants are based solely on appearance, or that participants are “dumb” and “self-absorbed,” but Perry says that couldn’t be further from the truth. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, who holds a degree in communications, she considers the 31 candidates vying for the job of Miss Mississippi “some of our state’s best and brightest,” noting that they’re at the top of their classes in academics and advocate fiercely for the causes they care about.
In her own life, she adds, “Pageantry has provided me with an outlet to be taken seriously as a leader and professional, and to do it while wearing dresses and high heels — something that makes me feel beautiful.
“I think sometimes we forget that it’s okay to be both smart and beautiful in our own skin.”
Wanting to give others that same self-confidence, Perry has owned a beauty and skin care company, Kate’s Beauty Buys, for five years. Through this business, she’s been recognized nationally and had the opportunity to represent Mississippi and her business on Capitol Hill.
“It also serves as another outlet for me to be creative and step outside of my comfort zone,” Perry says.
Being bold and believing in herself have served Perry well so far. In last year’s Miss Mississippi Competition, she placed in the top 15 and received a Preliminary Talent Award and was one of seven finalists for the prestigious Quality of Life award for her work with Children’s Miracle Network.
Perry also founded Crowns for a Cause, which teaches girls how and why it’s important to give back.
“What started off as a little idea in my head that I was scared wouldn’t be successful has turned into something so much bigger that I could’ve dreamed or imagined,” she says. “In a just over a year, we have (acquired) 110 ambassadors who have collected more than 60.000 boxes of children’s Band-Aids, raised thousands and thousands of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network, been recognized nationally for our efforts, created national partnerships and instilled a love of giving back in so many.”
While her goals change daily, Perry is certain her ideal profession would afford her the opportunity to travel, make her own schedule and lead others. Perhaps owing multiple businesses is in her future, but for now, she plans to continue her education and obtain a master’s degree in public relations.
“Past that,” she says, “I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out!”