Steven Ward headshot
By Steven Ward
November 2022

The Hattiesburg native was crowned Miss Mississippi 2022 in June.

Emmie Perkins discovered her love of music and the arts when she was in the 4th grade.

“I auditioned and landed a part in a local production of “Annie: The Musical.” When my mom heard me sing for the first time, she thought I was adopted. My gift of music and singing came out of nowhere,” Perkins said.

The role in Annie helped pave the way for Hattiesburg native Perkins to be crowned Miss Mississippi 2022 in June and an opportunity to represent the state in the Miss America pageant this December.

Perkins took vocal lessons from the age of 12 to 18 and was encouraged by teachers and coaches throughout the years to pursue a career in music and the arts.

“I would always tell my mom that I felt different from other kids. I told her I had this feeling that my path would be different than some of my peers. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I stuck with acting, music and singing and it led me to become Miss Mississippi.”

Perkins, 21, is a student at Mississippi State University working on a major in biological science and a minor in music.

When Perkins was growing up, she said the word “pageant” never crossed her mind.

“I never longed to be Miss Mississippi or Miss America. I would watch on TV every year to watch the talent competition, but I never saw myself as one of the high achieving young women on TV.”

But Perkins had a goal of graduating from college debt free and investigated Miss America scholarships.

“Many great mentors in my life encouraged me to compete for the title of Miss Hattiesburg my freshman year of college. I showed up in an evening gown that was too big for me, with no idea what to expect from the experience. Needless to say, I was blessed with the title that night,” Perkins said.

During her junior year of college, Perkins competed for Miss Mississippi State University and won a full tuition scholarship to school for a year.

Perkins’ platform as Miss Mississippi involves the healing power of music — Music is Medicine.

“I noticed the incredible correlation between the healing power of music and the effect it had on the human body. People of all ages, races, and backgrounds were moved by the healing power of the arts and music. Through Music is Medicine, I have brought the arts and music to school systems, hospitals, and nursing homes,” Perkins said.

Perkins said she remembers an encounter with a man in a dementia specific assisted living facility. She gave a presentation called “Memories with Maracas” and a man in the back never interacted during the program. At the end of the session, Perkins played “Ave Maria” and then the man sat up in his chair and began singing opera. Perkins later found out the man used to be an opera singer when he was younger, and the music had awakened his memories.

When asked about the toughest part of the Miss Mississippi competition, Perkins said she had concerns about her height.

“The night before the preliminary Red Carpet Evening Wear portion of the competition, I told my mom that girls who are 5 foot 1 could never win an evening gown award. Not only did I win the award that night, but I won the overall Red Carpet award for the entire competition. That award was a reminder to more than just me that true beauty is exuded through confidence and light from within,” Perkins said.

I’m glad I never gave up. I believe God gave me the opportunity to represent Mississippi to be a voice for our state.

Perkins said she wants to inspire young girls across the state and the nation to celebrate who they are and love the things that make them different.

“I want to be the Miss Mississippi who spreads authenticity and honesty about my struggles to all who will listen with hopes that they too will find the confidence from within.”

A vocal trainer in New York City who worked with singers aiming for careers on Broadway once told Perkins she would never make it as a Broadway singer and performer.

“I’m glad I never gave up. I believe God gave me the opportunity to represent Mississippi to be a voice for our state. My dream may not be Broadway anymore, but it might be because God had bigger plans for my life. He knew exactly where I needed to be when he placed the crown on my head,” Perkins said.

Emmie Perkins outside in white dress wearing crown and Miss Mississippi sash
Emmie Perkins outside in white dress wearing crown and Miss Mississippi sash
Emmie Perkins wearing her crown and Miss Mississippi sash, standing outside pointing to the welcome to mississippi sign
Emmie Perkins headshot wearing crown
Emmie Perkins being crowned Miss Mississippi on stage
Emmie Perkins shaking maracas in a classroom with children

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