Amelia Collins was crowned 2021 Miss Tennessee Volunteer at the end of the final, held on June 19, 2021 at Carl Perkins Civic Center, Jackson, TN. She will represent the Volunteer State at the inaugural Miss Volunteer America pageant, to be held in May 2022 in Jackson, USA. During her first interview, she says she was grateful to be chosen out of the 36 contestants. “So shocked and so honored to represent such a wonderful state. The 36 of us are a family and I feel so honored to represent them as well. I am ready to work and serve the State of Tennessee,” Collins said.
Amelia started pageants her junior year of high school. “My local directors meant everything to me. They prepared me for interviews, made sure I was working out and dieting, and made sure I was working on my talent very frequently,” Collins said.
Her platform, ‘Where is the Love: What Legacy Will You Leave,’ is her next step. She will be an advocate for the Southern Poverty Law Center. She wants to talk with students as the Governor’s official spokesperson on character education about kindness to each other. There as Miss Tennessee Volunteer she will work with children on challenging issues that they face everyday. “Hopefully we’ll hear from the schools and be allowed to meet with students in person,” Collins said. “I know I’ve grown to love this state since I enrolled into Rhodes and gotten to know the area around Memphis and then the area around Chattanooga when I won Miss Scenic City.
“I got to go through this program called learning for justice. It helps me be able to talk to children about hard topics such as racial injustice, gender and sexual identity, and also things like bullying and bias,” Collins said.
Collins says she is a woman with several goals. And with this great opportunity she wants to make sure every young woman knows they can dream big. “One of my biggest goals is to empower, especially young women across the state, I found success in this wonderful system and I want to encourage young women to go after their dreams no matter how many they have,” Collins said.
She’s the first state queen who is a first-generation American. “I grew up in South Dakota and moved to Arkansas seven years ago, but my dad immigrated here from South Africa,” Collins said. “He’s a doctor, and he and my mom met when he worked in a hospital in Arkansas and got married.
“Then when the hospital he was working for wouldn’t allow him to do research he wanted to do, he found a hospital in North Dakota that would, so they moved there and I was born soon after.”
A significant portion of her dad’s family was able to immigrate to the United States with him, but not everyone could. The ones who weren’t able to make it happen emigrated to Portugal where they live now because where they lived in South Africa’s capital of Johannesburg had become unsafe years ago.
“It’s really sad that my dad’s family hasn’t been able to reunite here in the United States, but hopefully immigration reform will continue and it can happen eventually,” Collins said. “But I also hope to one day go to South Africa with my dad and see places that were important to him when he was growing up because I think that would be really special to me.”
Collins’ dance performance on Wednesday night in the talent competition was an immediate highlight for the crowd watching at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.
Her routine could be divided into two halves where her performance is more of a technical routine to the hit song from 1992 before the tempo in the music and in her routine picks up with a faster rhythm. The link in the routine between the two parts was her extended twirl on her toes in which she rotated on her foot more than a dozen times without losing momentum.
“I know I ate a lot of bananas all week to keep my potassium high and keep from cramping when I did that,” Collins said when asked about avoiding injury with the move. “But we’re trained to focus on one point in front when we’re doing that and try to meet that spot every time and then use our muscles in our foot and leg and arms and core to keep the momentum going.
“And ballet training is at the foundation of it all because we really learn balance there.”
She said she plans to attend some of the other state pageants in the coming months to welcome the winners into the sisterhood of which she’s the first born as they all begin to prepare for their next competition.
“It’s not just a competition, but it’s also a family,” Collins said. “And that’s something that really struck me about this week at Miss Tennessee Volunteer.
“Yes the 36 of us were all competing with one another, but I’ve never been in a pageant where all of the contestants became as close as we did throughout the week. I got to know every single one of the other girls, and we were all pulling for each other by the time we got to Saturday night. And I’m looking forward to a similar experience next year.”