Current Miss USA Elle Smith is an advocate for mental health, particularly after the tragic passing of Cheslie Kryst at just 30 years old. “Cheslie was such an idol of mine. She was a powerhouse of a woman,” Smith, 23, said in Mr. Warburton Magazine‘s May issue, which ties to Mental Health Awareness Month. Kryst, who was crowned Miss USA in 2019, died by suicide after jumping off of a New York City building on Jan. 30, 2022.
“l I related to her as a black woman winning Miss USA and because of her career after pageantry as a correspondent,” Smith said, referencing Cheslie’s career with Extra. “As a beautiful black woman who embraces her natural hair… She was such a light. Her death was a shock. There were no signs that she was struggling, and I think that’s the part that has made me ask a ton of questions afterward and has impacted all the world, especially the pageant scene since,” she said to the publication.
Smith stunned on the cover, shot by Filbert Kung, in a stunning sequin mini dress, adorned with crystals and a dramatic magenta feathered left sleeve. The body con cut dress also included flirty mesh panelling on top. Her glam was on point too, with dewy, glowing skin and a dramatic smokey eye shadow. In another look, the pageant queen channeled the 70s in a disco inspired look with purple leggings and a tulle pink top.
Elle was crowned Miss USA 2021 at the 70th annual pageant in Tulsa, OK on Nov. 2, 2021, following an intense competition. Like Cheslie, Elle is also a seasoned reporter, putting to use her degree in Journalism and Media from the University of Kentucky, where she graduated in 2020.
In the interview, Elle also opened up about the challenges social media plays on mental health. “Social media is a highlight reel and people never truly know what is behind the scenes,” the Springfield, Ohio native said to the publication. “I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with this transition
regarding becoming Miss USA because I am just a regular person. At the end of day, I’m
In light of Cheslie’s passing, the President of Miss USA, Crystle Stewart, has implemented a number of social media initiatives in the organization through the Crystle Stewart Foundation. Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo also shared her thoughts in the interview about “positive change” within the Miss USA community.
“Through tragedy, positive change can happen. I am thrilled that Crystle and the entire Miss USA Organization are prioritizing mental wellbeing for their members,” she said to the magazine. “Our mental wellbeing can impact every facet of our lives, including our emotional health, physical health, relationship and work. The Crystle Stewart Foundation will help so many people do just that.”