Chelsi Mariam Pearl Smith (born August 23, 1973) is an American actress, singer, TV Host and beauty queen who won Miss USA 1995 and Miss Universe 1995.
Smith was born in Redwood City, California, to 19-year-old parents Craig Smith, an African-American maintenance man, and Denise Trimble, a White American secretary. Her parents divorced before she was two, and her mother, an alcoholic at the time, granted Smith's grandparents Barnie and Jeanette custody of her.
When Smith was seven, she moved with her maternal 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. Prior to her win at Miss USA, she was a sophomore majoring in education at San Jacinto College.
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. The following year she competed again as Miss Galveston County USA, and won the title, as well as the Miss Congeniality award. Smith, a multiracial American, became the first titleholder of African-American heritage in the pageant's history.
Smith went on to compete in the 1995 Miss USA pageant broadcast live from South Padre Island, Texas, on February 10, 1995. Her roommate was Britt Powell, Miss Missouri USA and was crowned by the reigning titleholder, Lu Parker of South Carolina.
During the final telecast, Chelsi became the clear favorite of the judges, obtaining the highest average preliminary score and entering the semifinals in first place, becoming the fourth consecutive woman from her state to make the semifinals, but the only one with much higher scores than her competitors. She breezed through the swimsuit and interview competitions, with the highest scores among the semifinalists, and advanced to the top six in first place. As the indisputable leader, she dominated with her articulate answers the next two rounds of competition: the Top 6 judges' questions and the Top 3 final question.
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." Her answer impressed the judges, giving her once again the highest scores, the crown, the prizes and the prestigious title. 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.
After her crowning, Smith was a celebrity contestant on Wheel of Fortune and an award presenter at the People's Choice Awards.
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. During the final competition, she had the highest swimsuit score, placed third in interview and seventh in evening gown, remained the highest placed contestant till 2000 overall when Lara Dutta from India scored 9.9 out of 10 overall. Lara Dutta is regarded as the highest scorer of Miss Universe even in 2015. Once again, Smith was among the final 3 contestants and went on to win the title, becoming the first Miss USA to capture the Miss Universe crown in 15 years.
Life after Miss Universe
As a model, Smith worked for Hawaiian Tropic, Jantzen, Pontiac, Venus Swimwear, and Pure Protein among others. She made appearances on Martin, Due South and the TLC documentary, The History of the Bathing Suit.
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.
In 2003, she acted in an independent film (Playas Ball at the Internet Movie Database) 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 at the Internet Movie Database) with Marc Blucas and Aisha Tyler. She was also a judge at the 2006 Miss Teen USA pageant.
Smith married her fiancé, fitness coach Kelly Blair, after her reign as Miss Universe and moved to Los Angeles. They later divorced.
In 2011 she was presented the Influential Multiracial Public Figure award.
In 2016, she was guest judge in the final Miss Peru 2016 beauty pageant, celebrated in the Ecological Center and Studios of America Television Production, Pachacamac, Lima, Peru.