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Terri Britt, who was Terri Utley at the time, was named Miss Arkansas USA in 1982, going on to win the title of 1982’s Miss USA and compete in the Miss Universe pageant, in which she was a finalist. She remains the only Miss USA to come from Arkansas. When Elizabeth Ward, who was Miss Arkansas, was named Miss America in 1982, it became the only time both Miss America and Miss Universe titleholders were from the same state in the same year. After a career in the entertainment industry, Britt went on to become a successful motivational speaker and author.
Terri Lea Utley was born on January 1, 1961. In her hometown of Cabot (Lonoke County), she was involved in the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program and was vice president of her Cabot High School graduating class of 1980. She would later be named to the Cabot High School’s Hall of Fame.
Utley attended the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). She has been quoted as saying she became involved in pageants to further her opportunities, which were limited in a small town. She became known for both her refreshing candor and her small-town upbringing as a contestant in the Miss USA pageant in 1982. When host Bob Barker asked what she did “in Cabot, Arkansas, on a Saturday night” her response was, “In the summer, we go to the Tastee Freez, sit on the back of my friend’s pickup truck, he plays the banjo, and the guys drink a little beer and dip a little Skoal. It’s a real good time.”
Utley’s road to the Miss USA pageant came after she won her first major pageant title, Miss Arkansas USA, in early 1982. She went on to win the Miss USA title and represent the United States in the 1982 Miss Universe pageant, in which she was named fourth runner-up.
Along with her exuberant reaction when her name was announced as the new Miss USA, she is often remembered for her short haircut, which set her apart from the long-haired contestants. As Miss USA, she made promotional tours to Hong Kong and Latin America, was featured on television’s Today show and the People’s Choice awards, and appeared on the TV detective drama Riptide.
After her Miss USA titleholder year, she served as a spokesperson for Mazda automobiles and became news anchor on Movietime television (now known as E!). In that role, she covered such events as the Academy Awards and the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1990, she married entrepreneur Steve Amos, formerly of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), leaving the entertainment industry. The couple lived in Destin, Florida, and had three children. Steve Amos died in 2007.
After marrying Charlie Britt, Terri Britt founded the Enlightened Family Institute to help others resolve issues in their lives, particularly as parents. Living in Cleveland, Georgia, she is a spiritual coach and motivational speaker. Britt is also an award-winning author. Her book The Enlightened Mom: A Mother’s Guide for Bringing Peace, Love & Light to Your Family’s Life was voted Best Spiritual Book of 2011 at both New York and San Francisco Book Festivals.
For additional information:Amos, Terri. Message Sent: Retrieving the Gift of Love. Cleveland, GA: WorldofLite Publishing, 2002.
Britt, Terri. The Enlightened Mom: A Mother’s Guide for Bringing Peace, Love & Light to Your Family’s Life. Destin, FL: WorldofLite Publishing, 2010.
Terri Britt. http://terribritt.com/meet-terri (accessed May 3, 2016).
Nancy Hendricks Garland County Historical Society
Last Updated 5/12/2016
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