The 2019 Derby Queen is Brittany Patillo, center, a UofL senior Theatre Arts major.
The 2019 Derby Queen is Brittany Patillo, center, a UofL senior Theatre Arts major.

With the traditional spin of a wheel, University of Louisville senior Brittany Patillo was named the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen.

Patillo, a Louisville native majoring in Theatre Arts, is a Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship recipient, a member of the African American Theatre Program, and has been named to the Dean’s List for five consecutive semesters. She is a youth coordinator and adviser for several area churches, as well as a dance instructor for the LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance.

The members of the Royal Court have been representing the Festival at a variety of events since their selection in January, including Festival Unveiled, the Ford Motor Company Spelling Bee and Macy’s Spring Fashion Show. They were selected as Royal Court members out of more than 100 young women who applied to participate in the program last fall.

Criteria for selection included knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus/community involvement. Each woman receives two $1,000 scholarships (one from the Fillies, Inc., and one from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation) and an official wardrobe.

The Princesses act as ambassadors for the Derby Festival and the city as they represent the community at a variety of functions. The Fillies, Inc. was established to support the Kentucky Derby Festival. Their mission is to organize the traditional Fillies Derby Ball, coordinate the “Royal Court Program,” produce the “Children’s Tea” event, and publish the Official Derby Festival Program. Membership is limited to 250 ladies of our community.

The other members of the court include: Mary Baker of Louisville, a junior at the University of Louisville; Elizabeth Seewer of Louisville, who is in her second year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Bellarmine University; Allison Spears of Catlettsburg, a senior at the University of Kentucky where she is majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-law track; and Kelsey Sutton of Brandenburg, a senior at Centre College majoring in mathematics.

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.