During her reign, she competed at the Miss Universe 2019 competition and finished in the top 10 representing the United States. She was also a part of a historic period where for the first time, all 4 major US based pagent holders were black women including Miss Universe 2019's Zozibini Tuni of South Africa, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris.
We talked to the longest reigning Miss USA on how she got into the pageant world, her platform, being an attorney and her work as a correspondent on EXTRA.
ATHLEISURE MAG: So what drew you to wanting to be in the pageants?
CHESLIE KRYST: My mom actually was Mrs North Carolina US 2002. She won this pageant for married women and I was 10 or 11 years old. I just remember feeling like my mom was famous. There were kids in my middle school who would ask me for my autograph. People who didn’t know my name before or who I was – I just remember saying that there was something cool about this. I knew at some point that I would compete.
AM: What drew you into wanting to stay in the pageant system in terms of initially competing and whether you plan on still being involved in activities that took place during your reign after the crown?
CK: Yeah! I think what kept me involved was seeing that pageantry could be a spring board into other places and that it could be a platform that you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. I remember seeing photos of Halle Berry for years competing and she was the first runners up and then she was Miss USA and I was like, “oh my God. She’s an Academy Award winning actress, I want to be that one day. How cool would that be? Or seeing careers that people like Kenya Moore has had and to see how people who have been in this system, competed and how they have gone on to be these incredible public figures and I wanted that. I continued to compete not only because I wanted to reap the benefits, but because I was reaping the benefits. You prepare for interviews so your skills in that area are sharpened. You're thinking about what to wear on stage so you’re constantly thinking about styling so you have that more than someone else who may not be focused on what they’re wearing like that. It’s a big high level goal that even if you don’t win you don’t lose either.
AM: You were recently the co-host of the Miss USA Competition as well as being able to crown the winner, what was that like especially as we’re navigating things in this time of COVID-19 that you were still able to put on a great show that people enjoy watching – especially with it being Graceland in Nashville as well as knowing your reign was over as you passed the baton?
CK: It was so much fun and it was a great transition out of my role into what my new life would be. For the final Miss USA Competition, I was an analyst and it was really cool to be able to go back and forth between the co-host interviewing me on stage and then back of house to talk about what we just saw on stage as well as to hear who I thought would continue to advance. It was so much fun and it was a literal translation of what my transition would be from being on stage and being a title holder to being the person who assesses what is happening on stage guiding the viewers through what is happening. That was incredible for me and it took away those feelings of what would be sadness for the end of my reign.
AM: You have had the longest reign. What was the platform that you focused on during your time that you wanted people to be aware of?
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