Who was Cheslie Kryst?

Cheslie Kryst Miss USA 2019
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Cheslie Kryst, best known to the world as Miss USA 2019, passed away on Jan. 30 at age 30, and those who loved her have taken to social media to share beautiful memories with their loved one and honor her incredible impact on the world.

A simple search of Kryst’s name brings up everything from her work in the legal system, her job as an ExtraTV reporter, and her time as Miss USA — in addition to countless instances of mentorship, sharing love, and spreading hope for those who needed it most. Kryst lived her life with selflessness and giving at the forefront of her actions.

Kryst’s family shared the following statement and focused upon her great light.

In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that 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.

Beautiful seems too standard and surface-level a word for Kryst, but in addition to her achievements, talents, and other-worldly warmth and joy, Kryst was stunning. Those who observed her recognized that she wore the Miss USA crown with grace and power, gratitude and kindness.

She also knew that holding the title of Miss USA came with responsibilities, ones she was proud to carry. During the pageant, she shared her spirit in her answers, touching on the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movements that were in the news at the time of that competition. When asked if those movements went too far, Kryst responded with the following.

”I don’t think these movements have gone too far. What #MeToo and #TimesUp are about are making sure that we foster safe and inclusive workplaces in our country. As an attorney, that’s exactly what I want to hear, and that’s exactly what I want for this country. I think they’re good movements.”

Kryst was proud of her work in the legal field. Graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law, Kryst did pro bono work as an attorney to aid incarcerated people up against unjust prison sentences. Kryst took a sabbatical to complete her job as Miss USA for a year but returned to work in the legal system after. Poyner Spruill announced towards the end of 2020 that Kryst was appointed the first Diversity Advisor at their firm after working as a litigation associate. 

Later in 2019, Kryst commenced as a correspondent for ExtraTV and interviewed several stars. In a recent reel on Instagram, Kryst shared a sweet moment with Denzel Washington — giving a glimpse into how comfortable she made those around her feel. Kryst earned Emmy nominations for her work at both the 47th and 48th Daytime Emmy Awards.

Kryst’s work as a correspondent for Extra continued until her passing, and she often shared photos of her interviews on social media — always smiling and sharing that great light.

Kryst’s legacy will be one that those who loved her and admired her work will carry with them forever; as her family said — she lived, and she laughed. To honor her is to laugh, love, and keep space for those who need it.

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