Cheslie Kryst
Cheslie Kryst - Miss USA 2019.jpeg
Kryst as Miss USA 2019
Cheslie Corrinne Kryst

(1991-04-28)April 28, 1991
DiedJanuary 30, 2022(2022-01-30) (aged 30)
New York City, U.S.
Alma mater
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)[citation needed]
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair colorBlack[citation needed]
Eye colorBrown[citation needed]

Cheslie Corrinne Kryst (/krɪst/; April 28, 1991 – January 30, 2022) was an American attorney, television correspondent, model, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss USA 2019. Kryst was also an attorney and had served as a correspondent for Extra from October 2019 until her death. For her work on Extra, she was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards.

Early life and education

Cheslie Corrinne Kryst was born on April 28, 1991, in Jackson, Michigan, to an African-American mother and a Polish-American father. She had four brothers and a sister.[1][2][3][4] Her mother, April Simpkins, competed in pageantry and was crowned Mrs. North Carolina US when Kryst was a child. The family moved from Michigan to Charlotte, North Carolina, when Kryst was young, and later settled in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where Kryst attended Northwestern High School.[5] The family later moved to Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Kryst transferred to Fort Mill High School, graduating in 2009; both cities are suburbs in the Charlotte metropolitan area.[6]

After graduating from high school, Kryst moved to Columbia, South Carolina, to attend the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. She graduated cum laude from the Darla Moore School of Business with a degree in marketing and human resource management in 2013, where she was also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, Gamecocks women's track and field team, and mock trial.[7]

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Kryst enrolled in Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduating with a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration in 2017.[8][7][9]

Law career

Following her graduation, Kryst became licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina and began working as an attorney at Poyner Spruill LLP, practicing complex civil litigation.[7][10] She also worked pro bono not only for clients who were low-level drug offenders, but also with Brittany K. Barnett of the Buried Alive Project, to free a client sentenced to life imprisonment.[11][12] She was the founder of the fashion blog White Collar Glam, dedicated to helping women dress professionally in white-collar jobs.[13][14]


Kryst began her pageantry career as a teenager, winning Miss Freshman at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and later Miss Fort Mill High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina.[6] After taking several years off from pageantry, Kryst made two attempts to win the Miss North Carolina title, placing in the top ten her first attempt and first runner-up on her second attempt.[6]

Miss USA 2019

In 2016, Kryst competed in Miss North Carolina USA 2017, where she placed as the fourth runner-up to Katie Coble. She returned the following year and placed in the top ten, before returning again for Miss North Carolina USA 2019, where she won the title, representing Metrolina. She was crowned by Kaaviya Sambasivam, Miss North Carolina Teen USA 2018, as the outgoing titleholder Caelynn Miller-Keyes was unable to attend the crowning due to the filming of season 23 of The Bachelor.[15][16]

As Miss North Carolina USA, Kryst was given the right to represent North Carolina at the Miss USA 2019 competition, held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. She went on to win the competition and became the third woman from North Carolina to win the title, following Chelsea Cooley and Kristen Dalton, who were crowned Miss USA 2005 and Miss USA 2009, respectively. At 28 years and 4 days old, Kryst became the oldest woman to be crowned Miss USA, breaking the previous record held by Nana Meriwether, who was 27 years, 6 months and 26 days old upon assuming the title, until R'Bonney Gabriel surpassed her.[a][17] After winning Miss USA, Kryst crowned Laura Little as her successor for the Miss North Carolina USA title.[18]

With her win, 2019 became the first year that all four major United States-based pageants were won by women with African ancestry; other titleholders were Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa (as Miss Universe 2019), Nia Franklin (as Miss America 2019), and Kaliegh Garris (as Miss Teen USA 2019).[19] Previously, she had been crowned Miss North Carolina USA 2019.[20]

As Miss USA, Kryst took a one-year leave of absence from her law career to fulfill her pageantry duties. She represented the United States at the Miss Universe 2019 competition on December 8, 2019, and finished in the top ten. Her national costume was inspired by four American female icons: Rosie the Riveter, the Statue of Liberty, Maya Angelou, and Lady Justice. Kryst's reign was originally scheduled to end on spring 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she became the longest reigning Miss USA titleholder on June 5, 2020, surpassing Nia Sanchez's previous record of 399 days. Her reign ended with a total of 557 days on November 9, 2020, and she crowned Asya Branch of Mississippi as her successor at the Miss USA 2020 pageant.[14][10][4]

Television hosting

In October 2019, Kryst became a New York City correspondent for Extra, after serving as a special correspondent in September 2019.[21] Her interview with actor Terrence Howard was the first to break the news that the actor planned to retire from acting following the final season of the television series Empire.[22]

In 2020, Kryst received a nomination for Outstanding Entertainment News Program at the 47th Daytime Emmy Awards due to her position as a New York correspondent for Extra.[23] She was nominated again for the same award the following year at the 48th Daytime Emmy Awards.[24]


On January 30, 2022, Kryst jumped to her death from 350 West 42nd Street, a 60-story high-rise apartment building in Midtown Manhattan, where she resided and was last seen on the 29th floor.[25][26] On January 31, her death was ruled a suicide by the coroner.[27] Kryst's mother April Simpkins released a statement, where she stated that Kryst had "high-functioning depression".[28]

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Meriwether was solely the oldest woman to hold the Miss USA title, as she did not win the crown but assumed the title after Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe 2012 and was forced to relinquish her Miss USA crown to the first runner-up. Olivia Jordan was previously the oldest woman to win Miss USA, being 26 years, 9 months and 14 days old after winning Miss USA 2015.


  1. ^ Alford, Natasha S. (May 9, 2019). "WATCH: Miss USA 2019 has words for strangers who keep touching her hair". The Grio.
  2. ^ "It's the 28th and I just turned 28!!". Cheslie Kryst. April 28, 2019. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021.
  3. ^ "Setting Her Sights". South Park Magazine. November 4, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Hanner, Carol (June 24, 2019). "Double Deac Miss USA". Wake Forest Magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  5. ^ "Meet Charlotte native Cheslie Kryst, also known as Miss USA". WCNC. February 27, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Bollinger, Cristina (May 2, 2019). "Miss North Carolina USA, a Charlotte lawyer, takes the crown. She's the new Miss USA". News Observer.
  7. ^ a b c "Cheslie C. Kryst". Cheslie Kryst. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Sonner, Scott (May 2, 2019). "The Latest: Lawyer from North Carolina wins Miss USA 2019". Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "North Carolina". Miss Universe Organization. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Cheslie Kryst, Associate". Poyner Spruill. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  11. ^ "Miss USA Cheslie Kryst helped free a man sentenced to life in prison for a drug offense and says marijuana should be legal". Business Insider. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  12. ^ "Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Reveals She Is Helping Free Inmates With 'Excessive Sentences' Like Kim Kardashian". Hollywood Life. May 10, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  13. ^ "Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019 Winner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. May 2, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "The new Miss USA is a North Carolina lawyer who works on behalf of prison inmates". CNN. May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  15. ^ "Miss North Carolina USA & Miss North Carolina Teen USA Pageant Results". PageantUpdate. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Drabble, Jenny; Felder, Lynn (October 25, 2018). "Miss America returning to her hometown of Winston-Salem for downtown parade, appearance". Winston-Salem Journal.
  17. ^ Multiple sources:
  18. ^ "Newly crowned Miss USA returns to Charlotte, advocates for justice". WSOC TV. May 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Multiple sources:
  20. ^ "Cheslie Kryst, former Miss NC and Miss USA, dead at 30". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. January 30, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  21. ^ "'Extra' Adds Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst as Correspondent". Extra. October 7, 2019.
  22. ^ "'Empire' Star Terrence Howard Says He's Done with Acting Once the Show Ends". Extra. September 11, 2019.
  23. ^ "Nominees Announced for the 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards" (PDF). NATAS. May 21, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  24. ^ "48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards NOMINATIONS – June 25th" (PDF). NATAS. June 25, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  25. ^ Paul Best (January 30, 2022). "Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst jumps to her death from NYC condo building". Fox News. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  26. ^ Taylor, Derrick Bryson (January 31, 2022). "Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Dies at 30". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  27. ^ White, Chelsea; Pasquini, Maria. "Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst's Cause of Death Confirmed by Coroner". Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  28. ^ Carras, Christi (February 2, 2022). "Cheslie Kryst privately struggled with depression before her death, mother says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
Awards and achievements Preceded byCaelynn Miller-Keyes Miss North Carolina USA 2019 Succeeded byLaura Little Preceded by Sarah Rose Summers Miss USA 2019 Succeeded by Asya Branch