Elle Smith
Ellen Elizabeth Smith

(1998-06-19) June 19, 1998 (age 23)
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (BA)
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Beauty pageant titleholder
TitleMiss Kentucky USA 2021
Miss USA 2021
Years active2021–present
Hair colorBlonde
Eye colorGreen
Miss USA 2021
Miss Universe 2021
(Top 10)

Ellen Elizabeth "Elle" Smith (born June 19, 1998[1][2]) is an American model, journalist, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss USA 2021. As Miss USA, she represented the United States at Miss Universe 2021 where she was placed in the top ten. Smith had previously been crowned Miss Kentucky USA 2021, and is the second woman from Kentucky to win Miss USA.

Early life and education

Smith was born in Springfield, Ohio to parents Samuel Clayborne and Lydia Smith; she is biracial, being born to a black father and a white mother. Her black ancestors were enslaved on a plantation in Kentucky, before migrating to Ohio in the aftermath of the American Civil War.[3][4]

Smith graduated from Shawnee High School in 2016, where she was an honors student involved in choir, orchestra, volleyball, and drama.[4] Afterwards, she moved to Lexington, Kentucky to enroll in the University of Kentucky, graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science in 2020.[5][4][6] While a student, Smith served as vice president of the university's chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.[7] After completing her degree, Smith became an on-air reporter with WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, covering Southern Indiana within the Louisville metropolitan area.[4][8]


Smith first became interested in competing in pageantry after one of her high school classmates, Brittany Reid, was crowned Miss Ohio Teen USA 2013.[4] However, she ultimately did not sign up for a pageant until eight years later, with Miss Kentucky USA 2021 being her first ever pageant.[9] She represented Germantown in the competition, and went on to win the title.[8]

Miss USA 2021

As Miss Kentucky USA, Smith received the right to represent Kentucky at Miss USA 2021.[10] Miss USA 2021 was ultimately held on November 29, 2021, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[11][12][13] In the competition, Smith advanced to the Top 16, and later the Top 8, before being announced as the competition's winner. Following her win, Smith became the second entrant from Kentucky to ever be crowned Miss USA, after Tara Conner was crowned Miss USA 2006. Smith was also the first titleholder under the new Miss USA Organization.[14][15][16]

In the final question portion of Miss USA, Smith was asked "Sustainability is becoming more and more important in professional landscapes. How can we encourage business to be more environmentally conscious?," to which she responded:

"I think we've got to look at it from a macro level and also a micro level. So at the macro level, companies need to switch to green energy, I think that's something we can all agree on. On the micro level, we all know how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and those are things that we can implement in our daily lives."[17]

As Miss USA, Smith represented the United States at Miss Universe 2021, where she placed in the top ten.[18][19] In addition to the opportunity to compete at Miss Universe, Smith moved to Los Angeles to participate in events for the year of her reign.[20]


  1. ^ "SEASON 23 PREMIERE!!!!". Elle Smith. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021.
  2. ^ "The face you make when the paperwork has been signed —and it's official!! Hello Kentucky! I am officially signing on as your Miss Kentucky USA 2021". Miss Kentucky USA. May 26, 2021. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Brody, Lanae (March 8, 2022). "Miss USA Elle Smith Reveals Her 'Full-Circle' Moment as a Biracial Crown Holder From the South". People.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Shawnee High School graduate competes in Miss USA pageant tonight". Springfield News-Sun. November 29, 2021.
  5. ^ "Louisville reporter, Elle Smith wins Miss USA 2021". LEX18. November 29, 2021.
  6. ^ "University of Kentucky grad Elle Smith wins Miss USA 2021". WKYT-TV. November 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "Curls, coils and a crown: Miss Kentucky Elle Smith crowned Miss USA 2021". Black Enterprise. December 1, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Daniels, CJ (May 22, 2021). "WHAS11's Elle Smith wins Miss Kentucky USA". WHAS-TV.
  9. ^ "What to expect from Miss USA 2021". Kentucky Kernel. November 29, 2021.
  10. ^ "WHAS11 reporter Elle Smith, Miss Kentucky prepares for Miss USA pageant". WHAS-TV. November 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "Miss USA, Miss Teen USA coming to Tulsa this fall". KTUL. April 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "Tulsa's River Spirit will host Miss USA, Miss Teen USA pageants". Fox 23. April 20, 2021.
  13. ^ Contreras, Cydney (November 9, 2021). "Get a First Look at All the Miss USA Contestants in Their Swimsuit-Competition Outfits". E!.
  14. ^ "Miss USA 2021: The Winner Is..." TV Line. November 29, 2021.
  15. ^ "Miss Kentucky Elle Smith Crowned Miss USA 2021". E! Online. November 29, 2021.
  16. ^ "Miss Kentucky Elle Smith takes the Miss USA crown". CNN. November 30, 2021.
  17. ^ "Miss Kentucky Elle Smith has been crowned the winner of Miss USA 2021". Insider. November 30, 2021.
  18. ^ "LIVE UPDATES: 70th Miss Universe coronation". CNN Philippines. December 13, 2021. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  19. ^ "WHAS11 Reporter Elle Smith wins Miss USA 2021". WHAS-TV. November 29, 2021.
  20. ^ "CI Alumna Miss Kentucky to Compete for Miss USA". UK Now. November 9, 2021.
Awards and achievements Preceded byLexie Iles Miss Kentucky USA 2021 Succeeded byLizzy Neutz Preceded by Asya Branch Miss USA 2021 Succeeded byTBA