As a freshman, Erika Jarlock performed at the Miss Northwestern-Lady of the Bracelet pageant as part of a theatre troupe.
Jarlock looked on as fellow Creative and Performing Arts member Marissa McMickens captured the crown in 2015.
“From that moment on, I wanted to be Miss Lady of the Bracelet,” said Jarlock, who made that dream a reality by winning the 60th annual pageant on Sept. 23. “I bawled as soon as that crown went on her head with Marissa competing for the third straight year.”
The musical theatre major participated as a sophomore, using her voice to win the talent portion of the 2016 competition.
But after winning the Miss Benton title and getting a taste of Miss Louisiana competition this past year, Jarlock, now a junior, returned with a redemption story of her own to seize the coveted LOB title.
“My mom wanted me to participate in LOB as soon as she knew I was going to school at NSU,” Jarlock said. “When they were announcing (the winner), my heart was pounding so fast that I felt like you could see it in my chest on stage.
“I heard my number (No. 9), and I didn’t even hear my name because I just broke down. My spirit left my body … and it was a dream come true for me.”
The Covington native’s platform aims at keeping alive all forms of art in schools and communities, a cause which Jarlock was drawn to after CAPA wasn’t immune to higher education budget cuts felt throughout the campus and the state.
“Nearly half of university students need something to be involved in, and the arts are a perfect place for you to learn team building, communication, public speaking and really all skills in general,” Jarlock said. “Musical theatre prepared me most for the pageant and my future career in general. I don’t know what I would have done for my talent if not for musical theatre.”
Jarlock sang “Gimme Gimme” from the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” to win the talent competition for the second straight year.
Before Jarlock performed on stages such as A.A. Fredericks Auditorium on NSU’s campus, she was belting out tunes from her favorites “The Little Mermaid” and “Annie” in her living room.
“I started singing when I was 2 years old, and I would put a red skirt on my head and pretend to be Ariel,” Jarlock recalls. “I remade the movie when I was 4, and I made my sister be every other character.
“My Dad would make me sit and practice all the songs to Annie. I cut my hair with bangs and a bob so that I could play all the kid characters on Broadway and in the movies.”
Broadway is exactly where Jarlock hopes to perform during her professional career, and she said Northwestern State’s theatre and dance program is preparing her for that journey.
“NSU has a few former students that are currently on Broadway, and it’s fabulous to see where people can go from such a small place like Natchitoches,” Jarlock said. “We’ve had people that were recently in ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Frozen.’
“Broadway is definitely the goal for me.”
Jarlock’s next step is competing in Miss Louisiana in June, a process she’s already started despite being Miss Lady of the Bracelet for barely a week.
“Erika is on a strict schedule and is about her business,” said LOB committee head Jaylon Lewis, a graduate student from Shreveport. “Competing in Miss Louisiana last year really prepared her for Miss Lady of the Bracelet this year, and now she has the necessary experience.
“She’s a phenomenal person who already has a list of what she needs and her goals.”
Like the LOB pageant, Jarlock feels like she can compete for the crown in her second appearance in Miss Louisiana.
“I will be more prepared this time after not really expecting to win Miss Louisiana in my first competition,” Jarlock said. “I learned as much as I could about Miss Louisiana in my first trip, so I know what the environment is like, what the judges are like and what the other girls are like.
“I still get nervous during interviews … and of course fitness is always something you work on. But I feel like I’ll be as prepared as I can be with an LOB committee who’s helped a number of girls compete in Miss Louisiana.”