Cheslie Corrinne Kryst (born April 28, 1991) is an American television presenter and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss USA 2019. As Miss USA, she represented the United States at the Miss Universe 2019 competition and finished in the top ten. Previously, she had been crowned Miss North Carolina USA 2019, becoming the third woman from North Carolina to win Miss USA. Outside of pageantry, Kryst is a licensed attorney and has served as a correspondent for Extra since October 2019.
With her win, 2019 became the first year that all four major United States-based pageants were won by black women; 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).
Early life and education
Kryst was born on April 28, 1991, in Jackson, Michigan, to a Polish American father and an African American mother. She has four brothers, Asa, Chandler, Jet and Brooklyn, and a sister, Page. Her mother, April Simpkins, competed in pageantry and was crowned Mrs. North Carolina US when Kryst was a child. Kryst grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina and attended Northwestern High School. 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. After graduating from high school, Kryst moved to Columbia, South Carolina to attend the University of South Carolina. She graduated 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.
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. 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. She is the founder of the fashion blog White Collar Glam, dedicated to helping women dress professionally in white-collar jobs.
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. After taking several years off from pageantry, Kryst made two attempts to win the Miss North Carolina title, placing in the top ten both times. In 2016, Kryst competed in Miss North Carolina USA 2017, where she placed as the fourth runner-up, losing 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 Miss North Carolina Teen USA 2018 Kaaviya Sambasivam, as the outgoing titleholder Caelynn Miller-Keyes was unable to attend the crowning due to the filming of season 23 of The Bachelor.
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, besting first runner-up Alejandra Gonzalez of New Mexico and second runner-up Triana Browne of Oklahoma. Upon winning, Kryst 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, Kryst became the oldest person 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. After winning Miss USA, Kryst crowned Laura Little as her successor for the Miss North Carolina USA title.
As Miss USA, Kryst has taken on 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.
In October 2019, Kryst became a correspondent for Extra, after serving as a special correspondent in September 2019. In her role with Extra, she has interviewed a plethora of celebrities including Oprah, Lizzo, Zendaya, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Matthew McConaughey, among others. Notably, 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 hit television series, “Empire.”