Hackworth, King preparing for final pageant together

Emma Hackworth and Makayla King first met a few years ago while competing in Clark County Fair pageants.

Now, the two are inseparable and are entering in one of their last pageants together.

“We’ve been like family forever,” King said.

In 2015, King won Miss Teen Clark County, and Hackworth won Miss Pre-Teen Clark County, further solidifying their bond as friends and fellow pageant competitors.

This year, Hackworth, 14, and King, 17, will compete for Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen in June.

The Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Organization is an official state preliminary to the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, according to its website.

They will attend orientation this month at Churchill Downs alongside the Miss Kentucky contestants.

The 2019 Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen competition is June 5-8 at the Historic Brown Theater. For the past 20 years, the pageant was in Lexington.

The pageant’s mission is to instill confidence and improve the Bluegrass State one young lady at a time, according to its website.

This year marks Hackworth’s first year competing in this pageant.

“I was questioning whether or not I’d want to do it this year,” Hackworth said. “But everybody has just been telling me about how it’s awesome.”

King said she is eligible to compete for Miss Kentucky next year because this year marks her third and final year to compete in the Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen circuit.

“I would have to compete for Miss Kentucky next year, and I don’t think that I’m quite ready for that,” King said. “That’s a big step, going from Outstanding Teen; it’s different. So it’s my last year, and I’m really sad about it, but at least we have this year together.”

Hackworth is an eighth grader at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School, and King is a junior at George Rogers Clark High School.

Hackworth previously held the ANSB National Preteen title, and King previously held the title of Ultimate Grand Supreme of Kentucky Beauties.

King’s director, Joey Neal, has helped her prepare for the Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen pageant.

Every participant will raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

In February, King ran the Children’s Miracle Network half marathon at Disney World in Florida. All proceeds and money raised went to the Children’s Miracle Network. King raised $350.

Each participant also has a platform. King’s platform is “Disability not Inability” in honor of her 28-year-old sister, Paige, who has cerebral palsy.

“I get to teach adaptive dance classes to disabled children,” King said. “This is a form of therapy for them. It’s not the most fun to go through therapy, because it’s painful. So they’re doing something they love by dancing, gymnastics and listening to music. So they’re getting a lot out of it without even realizing it.”

King said she sees firsthand the pain her sister goes through, but when music is in therapy sessions, Paige lights up.

“I wanted to give that opportunity to another child, just like her,” King said. “So that’s why I want to become a physical therapist when I’m older. It just all started with her.”

Hackworth’s platform is “Operation Appreciation” in honor of showing appreciation for military service.

“Operation Appreciation is a way to show gratitude toward the military,” Hackworth said. “I get people to make cards to send to the military, and I also collect items for care packages.”

Hackworth said cousin, Jimmy, is the inspiration for her platform. He is currently in the military.

“I wanted to do something to show my appreciation toward them because he misses out on a lot of family events at home,” she said. “I wanted all the military to know that they’re appreciated because they make a lot of sacrifices for us.”

King is representing Monticello as Miss Monticello’s Outstanding Teen 2019 in the upcoming Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen pageant.

Hackworth is representing Derby City as Miss Derby City’s Outstanding Teen 2019; her director is Pam Bratcher.

“I’ve had a lot of fun preparing and the first preliminary that I did to qualify I ended up winning that one, Miss Derby City’s Outstanding Teen,” Hackworth said. “My director, Pam Bratcher, she’s just been helping me through so much and without my director, without all my sister queens, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

King said she first got into the pageant circuit when a friend told her the Clark County Fair needed more participants in its pageant.

Hackworth said her entry into the pageant circuit was similar, and over time, she’s built confidence she wouldn’t have otherwise.

“I don’t really remember why I wanted to start doing it, but I’m pretty sure it was because I love acting, I love singing and dancing, and it’s just kind of like that for me, performing on stage,” Hackworth said.

Hackworth also takes dance lessons at Town & Village School of Dance in Paris. She is also a part of their Honor Company competition team. King said she also dances, and both teens said they started dancing at 7-years-old.

“It’s just been a common interest, and like I always say, it’s a way to express myself in a way words can’t,” King said.

King will dance to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” during the talent portion of the Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen pageant.

Hackworth said she also enjoys singing and acting; she has performed in several local musical productions. She will sing “Journey to the Past” from one of her favorite musicals, “Anastasia.”

Besides the talent portion, Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen will also judge more than 20 contestants in evening gown, fitness, interview and onstage question portions.

King said the pageant also required contestants to send in their grades.

The winner of the Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen pageant will advance to the Miss America Outstanding Teen competition for a chance to win additional scholarships.

“The scholarships with this program are amazing,” King said. “They are known for being a scholarship organization, and the winner normally can get a full ride to college somewhere.”

King said her favorite part about competing in pageants is the camaraderie.

“I would have never met Emma unless I did a pageant,” King said. “It’s all about the people you meet. And there’s some that are going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Hackworth agreed.

“My favorite part, specifically about this organization, is the sisterhood because you get to spend a lot of time with the other contestants when you don’t normally with other pageants,” Hackworth said. “You get to form bonds that, like Mikayla said, will last forever.”

Competing in pageants has changed their lives, they said.

“I’ve gained a ton of confidence through competing,” Hackworth said. “I wasn’t always the most confident person whenever I started … That’s something pageants have taught me, and I’ve gotten to serve my community through so many different ways and go to many events with my sister queens.”

King said pageants have allowed her to network and expand her platform to reach more people. Since competing in pageants, King has had the opportunity to work with the Allegro Dance Project, a nonprofit with an outreach program serving children with special needs. She has also worked with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky and has worked as a coach for Special Olympics.

“I realized I could do so much more,” King said. “I got to work with these different organizations. Pageants open up many more opportunities that wouldn’t normally be available to you.”