A heartbreaking loss. Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst was found dead in New York City on Sunday, January 30. She was 30 years old.
The Michigan native’s family confirmed the news in a statement to CNN on Sunday. “In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie,” her loved ones noted. “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.”
According to the New York City Police Department, the Extra correspondent died by apparent suicide after jumping from her apartment building. In her final Instagram upload, Kryst wrote, “May this day bring you rest and peace.”
The Daytime Emmy nominee was crowned Miss North Carolina USA in 2019, going on to represent the state at the Miss USA competition in Reno, Nevada, that year. After her win, Kryst placed in the top 10 at the 2019 Miss Universe pageant.
“We are devastated to learn about the loss of Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst,” a tweet from the Miss Universe pageant read on Sunday. “She was one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing. Our entire community mourns her loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family right now.”
Along with her role as Miss USA, the broadcaster hoped to make a difference as an attorney. She earned a law degree from Wake Forest University and aspired to reform the justice system. She also founded the fashion blog White Collar Glam, which aimed to help women dress professionally for the workforce.
“Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants,” she said in a 2019 video. “Don’t tell females to wear different clothes while you give the men substantive feedback on their legal arguments.”
Kryst and three other women — Nia Imani Franklin (Miss America), Kaliegh Garris (Miss Teen USA) and Zozibini Tunzi (Miss Universe) — made history in 2019 when they became the first group of Black women to hold the titles in a single year. While reflecting on the milestone moment during an interview with Good Morning America at the time, Kryst opened up about “breaking barriers” and setting an example.
“People will comment on our social media and be like, ‘Why are we talking about your race? You guys are just four, amazing women,'” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, we are four amazing women, but there was a time when we literally could not win.'”
Scroll down to see how Kryst’s friends, colleagues and more mourned her death:
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).