Jamestowner looks to become Miss RI
The competition will be in September at the Rhode Island Center for the Performing Arts in Cranston.
Perry is no stranger to the stage, having starred and appeared in numerous productions at North Kingstown High School and Rhode Island College.
She’s also comfortable before a television camera. Perry works for the Rhode Island Lottery, appearing three times a month from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln to call lottery numbers live on TV.
But a pageant?
“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It’s definitely outside my comfort zone,” said Perry.
A printed form, inviting her to submit an application to become a contestant, showed up unsolicited in the mail at her parents’ home earlier this summer. She filled it out and sent in a headshot.
You only live once, Perry told herself. “You never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I figure I might as well try.”
An interview by phone with pageant organizers followed. She must have done well, because earlier this month she received an email inviting her to compete at the pageant, which is owned in partnership with Donald Trump and NBC Universal.
Jimmy Calitri is an adjunct professor of theater at Rhode Island College and has directed Perry in several productions. He says her training as an actress will serve her well at the competition.
“She’s very versatile and the kind of person who can adapt herself to many different situations,” he said. “She’s very professional and polished with her acting and works really hard. She’s going to be able to take this and run with it.”
Kate Arthur, Perry’s high school drama teacher, also believes Perry will have a competitive edge.
“She doesn’t come across as that stereotypical pageant type. She has a strong personality, a vibrant personality. I see why she would be compelling in a pageant. I would want to talk to her and interview her and see what she had to say.”
Arthur says Perry is grounded and personable, and that she was a student leader in high school.
“She was integral in getting some theater festivals off the ground, in Rhode Island and in the Northeast,” she said. “Pageants aren’t just about beauty. They’re about leadership and service.”
Arthur’s claim is backed by Miss Rhode Island USA officials, who say the pageant is looking for young women who are community minded. “We encourage our contestants to find causes or issues they feel strongly about, and to become involved in those organizations that speak closest to their hearts,” the pageant’s introductory message says. “Each young lady who enters has different ideals and goals and strives hard in their personal quest for excellence.”
Still, there is a swimsuit and evening-gown competition. Along with an interview segment, each account for one-third of the judge’s overall preliminary score.
That reality has Perry working out this summer to stay fit and trim. She is also seeking sponsors and donations from local businesses and individuals to help defray the costs associated with participating in the pageant.
Perry has worked summers at Conanicut Cleaning in Jamestown for the past four years. It was one of the first Jamestown firms to sign on as a sponsor. Owner Sherri Deacon wants to travel to Cranston on Sept. 7 to cheer Perry on.
“I hope to be there if they allow us to come,” Deacon said. “The whole company will be there.”
Perry will need to bring her own wardrobe to the pageant, and she is looking for people to donate their time and skills to work on her hair, makeup and nails. She is also hoping to partner with local organizations on a can drive in order to compete for the pageant’s humanitarian award.
Perry said anyone interested in helping can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The winner of the Miss Rhode Island USA pageant earns the right to represent Rhode Island in the national Miss USA pageant. Monetary and other prizes are also awarded to the winner and runnerups in the September competition.