Terri Utley Amos Britt (1961–)

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 first time both Miss America and Miss USA title holders 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 November 19, 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 (later 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, who was from Ohio, leaving the entertainment industry. The couple lived in California and later in Destin, Florida; they raised three children: a son from Amos’s previous marriage and the couple’s two daughters. 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. She also founded Women Leaders of Love, with a mission of helping women become pioneers of change. Living in Cleveland, Georgia, she became a spiritual coach and motivational speaker, as well as an award-winning author. Terri Britt’s 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 June 21, 2021).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society

Last Updated: 06/21/2021