Chelsi Smith
Chelsi Smith Miss Universe.jpg
Chelsi Mariam Pearl Smith[1]

(1973-08-23)August 23, 1973
DiedSeptember 8, 2018(2018-09-08) (aged 45)
Beauty pageant titleholder
TitleMiss Texas USA 1995
Miss USA 1995
Miss Universe 1995
Miss USA 1995
Miss Universe 1995

Chelsi Mariam Pearl Smith (August 23, 1973 – September 8, 2018) was an American actress, singer, television host and beauty queen who was crowned Miss USA 1995 and Miss Universe 1995.[2] Smith was the third Miss USA of African-American origin, after Carole Gist (1990) and Kenya Moore (1993), in addition to being the sixth American woman to win Miss Universe and the first since Shawn Weatherly was crowned Miss Universe 1980.[3][4]

Early life

Smith was born in Redwood City, California,[5] to 19-year-old parents Craig Smith, an African-American maintenance man, and Mary Denise Trimble, a white American secretary.[6] Her parents divorced before she was two, and her mother, an alcoholic at the time, granted Smith's maternal grandparents Barnie and Jeanette custody of her.[5]

When Smith was seven years old, she moved with her grandparents to Kingwood, Texas, where they would later get divorced as well, causing Smith to grow up in a divided home while she attended high school in Deer Park.[5] Prior to her win at Miss USA, she was a sophomore majoring in education at San Jacinto College.[3][7]


Smith (left) together with Miss Universe Indonesia 1996, Alya Rohali (middle) and Indonesian First Lady, Siti Hartinah (right) in 1997.[8]
Smith (left) together with Miss Universe Indonesia 1996, Alya Rohali (middle) and Indonesian First Lady, Siti Hartinah (right) in 1997.[8]

Miss Texas USA

Smith competed in her first major beauty contest in 1994, when she was a semifinalist in the Miss Texas USA pageant, as Miss South East Texas USA.[9] The following year she competed again as Miss Galveston County USA, and won the title, as well as the Miss Congeniality award.[10] Smith, a multiracial American,[11] was the first titleholder of African-American heritage in the pageant's history.[12]

Miss USA

Smith went on to compete in the 1995 Miss USA pageant on February 10, 1995. During the final telecast, Smith obtained the highest average preliminary score and entering the semifinals in first place, becoming the fourth consecutive woman from her state to make the semifinals. She became a semifinalist, and advanced to the top six in first place. The next two rounds of competition: the Top 6 judges' questions and the Top 3 final question.[citation needed]

When asked how she, as an advisor, would change the First Lady's image if asked for a consultation, Smith replied: "I would tell her not to change her image, actually. I believe very strongly in who I am, and I've seen 50 ladies tonight who believe very strongly in who they are, and I really think that she wouldn't have made it as far as she has if she wouldn't have been herself, so I really truly think she should stay exactly the way she is."[13] She became the seventh woman from her state to hold the Miss USA title and also won the Miss Congeniality award as she had at her state pageant, becoming the only Miss USA winner and Miss Texas USA in history to win this award.[14]

After her crowning, Smith was a celebrity contestant on Wheel of Fortune[5] and an award presenter at the People's Choice Awards.[9]

Miss Universe

After becoming Miss USA, Smith traveled to Windhoek, Namibia, to compete in the 1995 Miss Universe pageant, broadcast live from Windhoek Country Club on May 12, 1995. She was again the highest placed contestant after the preliminary competition, which propelled her into the top ten. Once again, Smith was among the final 3 contestants and went on to win the title ahead of first runner-up Manpreet Brar of India, becoming the first Miss USA and sixth representative to capture the Miss Universe crown in 15 years. At the end of her reign, she crowned Alicia Machado of Venezuela as her successor.[15][16]

Life after Miss Universe

As a model, Smith worked for Hawaiian Tropic, Jantzen,[17] Pontiac, Venus Swimwear, and Pure Protein among others.[18] She made appearances on Martin, Due South and the TLC documentary The History of the Bathing Suit.[18]

With the support of Music World Entertainment/Sony, Smith co-wrote and recorded with producer Damon Elliott her first single, "Dom Da Da", part of the soundtrack for The Sweetest Thing, starring Cameron Diaz.[18] In 2003, she acted in the independent film Playas Ball, where she co-starred with Allen Payne and Elise Neal. She also co-hosted Beyoncé Knowles' special Beyonce: Family and Friends Tour on pay-per-view and appeared on HBO in Saladin Patterson's short film One Flight Stand with Marc Blucas and Aisha Tyler. She was a judge at the 2006 Miss Teen USA pageant[19] and a guest judge for the Miss Peru 2016 beauty pageant.[20]

In 2011, she was presented the Influential Multiracial Public Figure award.[21]

Smith married fitness coach Kelly Blair[5] after her reign as Miss Universe and moved to Los Angeles. They later divorced.[22]


Smith was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017. Growing increasingly weak throughout 2018, she traveled to her mother's home in Mifflin, Pennsylvania, and she died there at the age of 45 on September 8, 2018.[2][23][24]


  1. ^ "Chelsi Mariam Pearl Smith". Dallas Morning News. October 22, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Friends: First black Miss Texas USA and former Miss Universe dies". ABC13 Houston. 2018-09-09. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  3. ^ a b Carney Smith, Jessie (2012). Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events. Visible Ink Press.
  4. ^ "Miss USA just crowned its ninth black woman – now, meet the first eight". The Tempest. 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Hanging Tough". People. May 15, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Chelsi Smith, Biracial Woman From Texas Crowned Miss Universe". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 88 (3): 53. 1995-05-25. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Texas woman wins". San Francisco Chronicle. February 11, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Notable People of Jakarta - ALYA ROHALI". Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of The Republic of Indonesia and Government of Jakarta Special Capital Region. Retrieved January 1, 2017.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b "Miss Universe holds court on equality not just good looks". Dallas Morning News. October 22, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010. She appears on Wheel of Fortune and at the People's Choice Awards. She attends Hollywood events like the post Oscar party for the cast of Forrest Gump.
  10. ^ "Smith crowned Miss Texas USA". San Antonio Express-News. June 30, 1994. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  11. ^ "Black? White? Or other? Conventional race definitions being questioned". Richmond Times-Dispatch. March 12, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Chelsi Smith". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. February 14, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  13. ^ Charmoli, Tony (Director) (February 10, 1995). The 1995 Miss USA Pageant (Television production). South Padre Island, Texas: CBS.
  14. ^ "Today in History: Miss Texas crowned Miss USA". Houston Chronicle. February 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-03-07. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Miss USA wins 1995 Miss Universe pageant". Sun Herald. May 14, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  16. ^ "Former Miss USA and Miss Universe Chelsi Smith dead at 45". 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Celebrity". Boston Herald. Apr 13, 1995. Retrieved 11 November 2010. Miss U.S.A. Chelsi Smith appeared at Filene's yesterday on behalf of Filene's and Jantzen's Clean Water Campaign.
  18. ^ a b c "Chelsi Smith". Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Miss Teen USA 2006". NBC. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  20. ^ NEWS, Pageants. "Miss Universe 1995 Chelsi Smith to judge Miss Peru 2016". Pageants News. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  21. ^ "Multiracial Heritage Week". Retrieved 2012-09-01.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Clemens saga weaves a tangled web in Houston". ESPN. May 21, 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  23. ^ "Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995, has died at age 45". Yahoo News. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995 from Texas, dies at age 45". Retrieved 9 September 2018.
Awards and achievements Preceded by Sushmita Sen Miss Universe 1995 Succeeded by Alicia Machado Preceded by Lu Parker Miss USA 1995 Succeeded by Shanna Moakler Preceded byChristine Friedel Miss Texas USA 1995 Succeeded byKara Williams