284 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI SELA WARD Emmy Award-winning actress Sela Ward was born on July 11, 1956, to an electrical engineer and a homemaker in Meridian. The oldest of four children, Ward later left Meridian to study fine art and advertising at the University of Alabama, where she joined both Chi Omega Sorority and the cheerleading squad and was elected Homecoming Queen. Following college graduation in 1977, Ward began working for an advertising agency in New York City. In addition to her advertising job, Ward also kicked off her modeling career with the Wilhelmina Agency. There, she landed appearances in numerous television commercials, including ads for Maybelline cosmetics. Eager to build on her initial success, Ward moved to Los Angeles, California, where she soon earned her first roles in film and television. In addition to time devoted to her family and successful acting career, Ward maintains ties to Mississippi and contributes greatly to her hometown of Meridian. During visits with her family to a local Meridian shelter in the late 1990s, Ward became inspired to help the foster children of Mississippi. She and her husband, entrepreneur Howard Sherman, collaborated with community leaders and sponsors to create Hope Village for Children. Located on thirty acres where the Masonic Children’s Home once stood in Meridian, Hope Village provides a safe, community-oriented home environment for children in need. PHOTO COURTESY OF HOPE VILLAGE FOR CHILDREN