Former Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen Michaela Lackey crowned Miss Georgia

If you need proof that Miss Georgia Michaela Lackey is relatable, look no farther than her passion for playing “Mario Kart” games on an old-school Nintendo system.

Lackey, an avid dancer, finds time for the diversion amid priorities like promoting the arts -- and now, publicly serving as the face of her state.

“This is my new job. I feel very blessed,” Lackey, 21, said in an interview Sunday. She hails from Marietta and won the Miss Georgia title Saturday night while competing as Miss Heart of Lakes in the Bill Heard Theatre of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Lackey is the first former Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen to become Miss Georgia. She won Outstanding Teen on her second try, and also won Miss Georgia on her second try.

She was optimistic throughout the preliminary rounds of this year’s competition, noting, “If you’re not confident in yourself, how can you allow other people to have that confidence in you?”

That’s not to say Lackey is invincible.

On the same night Lackey won a preliminary talent competition, she fell while practicing her dance.

Lackey’s message to young women?

“You’re always an example to someone, whether you realize it or not,” Lackey said.

She’s familiar with serving as a role model, thanks largely to the dance outreach platform she created.

Performing Artists Serving Society In Our Neighborhoods, or PASSION, helps performing artists give back to their communities. The program’s outreach efforts span everything from promoting the importance of the arts in schools to dance therapy.

Lackey, who started dancing when she was 3 years old, recently completed her third year at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

She credits pageants with enhancing her ability to speak confidently in public, a skill set not always emphasized in the dance world. Ask Lackey about her future beyond Miss Georgia and you’ll get a list of possibilities.

She talks about taking mission trips to other countries. Maybe she’ll become a pageant coach for teens, personal trainer or choreographer. There’s also the upcoming Miss America pageant, of course.

Her long-term plan could include all of the above -- and more.

“I’m very ambitious,” Lackey said.

For now, she’s embracing her new title. She looks forward to interacting with people across the state.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be their Miss Georgia,” Lackey said.

Sonya Sorich, 706-571-8516

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