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VIProfile: Mallory Hudson

Story by Emily Robertson | Photography by Houston M Photography

Mallory Hudson is a lot like many college seniors. She attends University of Kentucky and loves her family, loves cheering on the Wildcats and enjoys spending time with her Goldendoodle, Bella. There is one big different, though. This past July, Mallory, a Bowling Green native, shined on the national stage, first being crowned Miss Kentucky 2023 and next finishing as the third runner up to Miss America 2024. Now, she hopes to spend the remainder of her reign showcasing all that Kentucky has to offer and encouraging people to never give up on their goals and dreams.

Hudson attended South Warren High School, graduating in 2020 and she is now preparing to graduate from UK in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. It is no surprise that her talents led her to the national stage after acquiring many accolades throughout the years. She participated in more than 40 theatrical productions, including a feature film called Beauty Mark. She is a two-time Kentucky State Beta Speech Champion, served as 2023 Kentucky Derby Festival Princess and was named a Cycle 12 Jovani “It Girl” for her modeling work with Jovani Fashions in Atlanta and New York.

Hudson’s official road to Miss America began in November of 2019 when she was asked last minute to compete in a preliminary competition just two days before it was to be held. “At first, I said ‘Absolutely not, that competition is not for me!’ However, with a little convincing, I took a big leap of faith,” Hudson says. “In June 2021, I was named top 8 at Miss Kentucky 2021. In June of 2022, I was the 4th Runner Up to Miss Kentucky 2022. In July 2023, I was named Miss Kentucky 2023.”

Hudson’s biggest influence in life is her mother, Caroline, and she played a big role in one of Hudson’s major focuses of her time as Miss Kentucky. “My mother is a speech-language pathologist and she has instilled core values of empathy, inclusion and kindness in my sister and me,” Hudson says. “She believes everyone deserves a seat at the table, of course, but more than that, she believes everyone at the table deserves a voice. I have worked tirelessly to ensure that mantra is the backbone to my service initiative, Inclusive Stages, and I can’t thank my mom enough for teaching me that we are all more alike than different.”

Hudson says that Inclusive Stages is designed to provide theatrical and artistic opportunities for individuals with delays and disabilities. “Through Inclusive Stages, I have had the honor of implementing a number of initiatives to further inclusivity efforts in the state. I have initiated inclusive acting classes for individuals with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, written a children’s book named Inclusive Stages, created a podcast called “Inclusive Stages: Behind the Curtain,” and distributed sensory kits to Kentucky theaters to help make theaters more accessible for individuals with sensory processing disorders.”

Hudson received the 2023 Kentucky Farm Bureau Quality of Life Award for her work with Inclusive Stages. Her goal throughout her work is to teach people to look for capabilities instead of disabilities, and to welcome all to not only the theatrical stage, but to all areas of life. After she graduates in May, she hopes to attend law school to potentially become a disability rights attorney due to her work with Inclusive Stages.

Another area of focus for Hudson this year is her work with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture as the official spokesperson for Kentucky Proud. She has the opportunity to travel the state each week, encouraging Kentuckians of all ages to support their fellow Kentuckians by purchasing agricultural products and services, made, grown and produced locally. “I am especially excited about this opportunity due to my grandfather being a proud Kentucky farm owner in Edmonson County,” Hudson says. “Since my crowning last July, I have completed 250 plus appearances and traveled 26,000 miles across our Commonwealth.”

After winning Miss Kentucky, Hudson went on to compete at the Miss America Pageant recently and finished in the top five of all contestants. She took her role in representing the Commonwealth as a huge responsibility and she is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to join the sisterhood of Miss America. “Kentucky has shaped me into the woman I am today, so my first priority was to represent my home state of 22 years with grace, dignity and an unbridled spirit and I threw my heart and soul into meeting that goal,” Hudson says. “Standing with 50 of the most kind, intelligent and ambitious women in the country was an incredible honor and I have never felt more empowered or more proud to be a woman than I did on the Miss America stage. I am incredibly thankful I will forever be connected to an opportunity much larger than myself.”

She says that some may not know that the Miss America organization is one of the nation’s leading scholarship providers for women. With her third Runner Up placement at the national competition, her scholarship total allows her to graduate debt-free and focus on preparing for law school. Hudson says that with everything she has gained through her experience in pageants over the last few years, she hopes that she leaves behind a legacy full of Kentucky pride and building community for everyone. “I love meeting Kentuckians,” Hudson says. “Ultimately, I hope to be remembered as a Miss Kentucky who built intentional connections with Kentuckians, advocated for inclusion, led with a servant’s heart and empowered through education.”

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