The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

‘A once in a lifetime opportunity.’ Miss Kentucky Mallory Hudson reflects on Miss America and her pageant journey

Video by Giana Gallo, Podcast Manager

Mallory Hudson said she’ll never forget how she felt when she stepped on the Miss America stage and placed in the top five contestants. 

In January, Hudson, current Miss Kentucky and a University of Kentucky senior, traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the national pageant at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Walt Disney Theater.

“There’s a moment where the audience is cheering and we’re all standing on stage and I think just kind of taking it in,” Hudson said. “I think that was the first moment that it had really hit me what was happening and really what this meant for the state of Kentucky as well. I think that was the only moment that I had gotten emotional throughout the entire Miss America competition.”

Hudson’s placement in the competition, third runner-up, is the highest a Miss Kentucky winner has placed in the past two decades. 

The meaning of that moment as well as her placement is something that is not lost on Hudson.

“It’s really profound to think about, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Hudson said. “It’s so special and so unique and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Also understood by Hudson was the value of the women she surrounded herself with on stage.

“I really think I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy because all of these women that are competing at the local, the state, and the national level, all contribute so much to their communities. They’re talented, ambitious, intelligent, beautiful, inside and out,” Hudson said. “I’m in competition with no one. The only person I’m trying to be better than is the Mallory I was yesterday.”

However, Hudson said she didn’t get involved with pageantry until it came to her through a local director for the Miss Kentucky scholarship organization. At first, she turned the woman down.

“I definitely will admit that I had the stereotypical view of what it meant to be a part of a competition or a pageant of any kind,” Hudson said. “But what finally drew me in, what finally convinced me to take that leap of faith and take that adventure was the scholarship aspects of the competition.” 

Upon finally deciding to take that leap and compete in a pageant, Hudson would receive her first title in November of 2022, representing her hometown as Miss Bowling Green, which “has been the joy of my lifetime,” she said. 

When Hudson later competed in the Miss Kentucky pageant in July 2023 and won, her platform and opportunities grew. 

In taking on the role of Miss Kentucky, Hudson also accepted a job with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“What a lot of people don’t know actually about Miss Kentucky is that I have a full-time position working for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture as a Kentucky Proud spokesperson, and Kentucky Proud is the official state marketing program for agricultural products and services in the state of Kentucky,” Hudson said.

Hudson’s position within the field of agriculture is meaningful to her background, she said, as her grandfather owns a 256-acre farm in Edmonson County near Bowling Green.

“I’m in and out of schools every week getting to make connections with Kentucky’s kiddos … (I speak) with them about the importance of agriculture and agriculture as our heritage and as our future,” Hudson said. 

In addition to speaking to Kentucky children about agriculture, Hudson uses her platform to educate them about values that she’s passionate about.

“I also get to talk with them about, you know, inclusion and friendship and the power of one word and the power of one action and in changing the world around them,” Hudson said.

Inclusivity, paired with a longtime passion for performing arts, is what inspired Hudson to create her own community service initiative called Inclusive Stages.

While Hudson was never drawn to the pageant stage before her Miss Bowling Green win, she said she was involved with the musical theater space, participating in 40 plays during her time in theater.

“I have always loved theater and musical theater,” Hudson said. “I did my first show when I was five years old. And I always joke that I got involved, or my parents got me involved with theater because I was always the loudest kid in the room.”

Hudson’s love for theater has taken her all the way to Hollywood. In 2017, she acted in a film called “Beauty Mark,” which was shot in Louisville, Kentucky, and premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival that year. 

With Inclusive Stages, Hudson is able to share that love with people who have disabilities through various services, which have included acting classes for individuals with Down syndrome and sensory kits for Kentucky theaters to improve accessibility for those with sensory processing disorders, according to the Miss Kentucky website.

“I have the opportunity to work with a lot of different individuals from a lot of different ability levels,” Hudson said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned through Inclusive Stages is that everyone deserves to shine, and everyone can shine, if they’re simply given the opportunity to do so. I think that the arts are innately human and inherently inclusive.”

Following her graduation from UK in May of this year, Hudson said she plans on attending law school, currently exploring options across the country. 



Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lilly Keith, Assistant News Editor

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *