Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst Remembered As 'Great Light'

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A former Miss USA died this weekend and many are remembering the legacy she left behind.

On Sunday, social activist and attorney Cheslie Kryst was found dead in New York City at the age of 30. The NYPD is investigating the circumstances of her death.

Native to North Carolina, Kryst had a law degree and an MBA from Wake Forest University. She was a civil litigation attorney doing pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates and a correspondent for entertainment news program Extra. Additionally, she ran a fashion blog titled White Collar Glam, dedicated to helping women dress professionally in white-collar jobs. Her life in pageants was fairly extensive, having participated in local pageants as a teenager, and later in bigger pageants such as Miss North Carolina. After being crowned Miss North Carolina USA in 2019, she joined the Miss USA competition the same year and won that title. During that year, she made history alongside three other Black women as they marked the first time Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe were all composed of Black women.

Amid the 2019 Miss USA competition, Kryst shared an anecdote about a judge who told her at a law conference that she should wear a skirt instead of pants. He apparently said it was because judges prefer skirts. To this, Kryst said: "Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants.”

In the wake of Kryst’s death, her family issued a statement to CNN that celebrated “her great light” and said she “inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined… Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA, and as a host on Extra. But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague — we know her impact will live on."

Extra issued a statement, saying: "Our hearts are broken. Cheslie was not just a vital part of our show. She was a beloved part of our Extra family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends."

Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016, wrote a tribute to Kryst on Instagram, explaining that a pageant queen is a “person that is kind, compassionate, genuine, giving, hardworking, intelligent, and sisterly.”

“Cheslie was the embodiment of a true queen. She set a bar that is impossible to reach. She was incredible,” she wrote.

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Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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