She likes aerobics. She writes poetry. She broke up with her boyfriend four weeks ago. She "never really eats too much junk food." And now she is the first black Miss Mississippi.

It began on Wednesday with the evening gown competition. And on Saturday night, before a crowd of 1,336 spectators in the Vicksburg Municipal Auditorium, Toni Seawright, 22, was crowned Miss Mississippi 1987. She cried. Her mother fainted.

"She had a slight problem there," Toni Seawright said yesterday, referring to her mother, as she and other contestants were attending a photo session atthe Duff Green Mansion in Vicksburg. "She just gets like that when we -- my brothers and sisters -- are performing. She had to calm her nerves down. She's okay now."

And so is Miss Mississippi: "I'm ecstatic. I felt good about everything I was doing {Saturday} night, but I was very shocked. I had been working for it, and when it happened I was in a state of awe.

"I want everybody to realize," she said, "that I don't think I won because I was black but because I was the best. I'm excited about being the first black Miss Mississippi, but I'm more excited about being Miss Mississippi." Seawright, the only nonwhite among the 10 finalists, was one of three black contestants among the 37 local pageant winners vying for the state title.

Saturday marked the end of the state pageants before the Miss America finals on Sept. 19. According to Albert A. Marks, chairman and CEO of the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., Seawright is "the third black who has won a state pageant this year. California and Colorado are the other two ... To me it's a very welcome thing, because after the shock waves of Vanessa {Williams} -- and the shock waves were not because she was black, particularly -- I'm happy to see more blacks entering the competition and winning.

"I was thrilled to death when Vanessa won. I won't comment on what happened later. It's nice to see minorities -- by the way this year we also have an Oriental and we have an American Indian -- I find that excellent. I don't think that one group -- race or anything -- should have a lock on anything. The name is Miss America."

A native of Moss Point, Miss., Seawright graduated in May from the Mississippi University for Women with a degree in music and is three credits shy of a second degree in business administration. The 5-foot-9 Miss Mississippi has had four years of vocal training and a position on MUW's modeling squad but little pageant training -- she competed in her first major pageant this year.

In February, before her local pageant, Seawright visited Susan Akin, the 1986 Miss America from Mississippi. In Akin's apartment they talked and tried on dresses, and afterward, Seawright remembers, "I said, 'Hey, I'm going to win.' I felt like if I touched her, I'd have a sense of good luck about me."

In Miss America circles, Mississippi is known for its swimsuit competitors. And that happens to be Seawright's weakest area.

"She's got to pick up some points in the swimsuit competition," said Dr. Briggs Hopson, a member of the board of directors for the Miss Mississippi pageant. He said the new state queen, who measures 35-24-35, "needs to work on toning up, losing some weight and working on muscle masses."

"Yes, I know about that," Seawright said quietly. "I have to get into physical shape, especially my legs -- my thighs. But at Atlantic City, I'll be ready. I have exactly 6 1/2 weeks to work on current events and the swimsuit competition. I'll be exercising -- getting lean and mean."

Hopson, who is a vascular surgeon, and his wife Patricia coached 12 Miss Mississippis on their way to the Miss America pageant -- taking them into their home for a six-week pre-Atlantic City overhaul -- trimming, smoothing, reducing, drilling, conditioning and more.

According to Marks, "Dr. Hopson said he has known the {Seawright} family for years and that they are an extraordinarily fine family. And he doesn't usually make remarks about somebody's family."

No longer officially involved in the training of Miss Mississippi, Hopson said, "I think she's so good, I'm sorry I won't have the chance to work with her ... There was no question in my mind after Thursday night, when she sang -- she brought the house down. She blew the top off the house, with ovation after ovation.

"When she got through, I turned to my wife and said, 'Well, they could crown her now as far as I'm concerned.' She did a heck of a job ... I think everyone {Saturday} night felt like she definitely deserved to win the pageant."

Seawright took a Jeffrey Osborne song, "We're Going All the Way," changed the words to "I'm Going All the Way," sang it in public for the first time on Thursday night and won the talent competition. Praising her "great voice" and her stage presence, Hopson said, "Personally, I don't see how she can miss being in the top 10 in A.C."

History and the state of Mississippi are on her side. Since 1958, four Miss Mississippis have won the national title. According to a 1986 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mississippi, by producing seven swimsuit competition winners in the last eight years, has beaten enormous odds -- 3 million to 1 -- and has, in those eight years, produced two Miss Americas and four more finishers in the top five.

"There are states that put out extraordinary effort {to win the Miss America pageant}," Marks said. "And yes, Mississippi is one. As a matter of fact, I would say a very heavy percentage of the southern and southwestern states and California all exert extraordinary effort. It's like a cram course on how to win a pageant.

"I think one reason is the number of contestants in a given southern or southwestern state pageant is very large -- so it's a matter of more candidates and then a better cull, if you will." Citing the state pageants in Texas and South Carolina, which each had 70 contestants, Marks said, "The more candidates you have, the better the choice is."

"If they've done well in the past," Seawright said of the contestants from her state, "they'll do well in the future -- like in September. That tradition will keep going. I'll prove that."