In SummaryElle Smith, a Black multimedia reporter from Kentucky, has been crowned Miss USA 2021 in a competition against 50 other women, serving as an inspiration to those hoping to follow in her footsteps.
Elle Smith is no stranger to television, but her appearances will be slightly different now that she’s traded in her Miss Kentucky sash for a Miss USA crown.
Smith, who works as a multimedia journalist for WHAS11, was noted for not just standing out during the swimsuit and evening gown competitions but also for her response to how businesses might be more ecologically conscious, the station reported.
According to a recent feature, Smith received the title of Miss Kentucky USA in May 2021, after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Two days prior to Smith’s victory, Breanna Myles, an incoming Florida State University student, was charting her own path in the pageant world.
After winning the Miss Florida Teen USA competition earlier this year, Myles was crowned Miss Teen USA. She is the first Floridian to win the title and the first person of African and Latino origin to represent Florida in the competition, per a press release from the university.
Myles celebrated both herself and Smith on their victories in an Instagram post, stating she adores her “big sister” and is excited for the year ahead.
“I am already so in love with my big sister, MISS USA @officialellesmith 💙 I know she will represent us amazingly at Miss Universe (next week!!!) and cannot wait to share my year with one of the most beautiful and accomplished [women] I’m blessed to know,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the opportunity to help crown THE Miss USA, girls… keep believing in your dreams!”
Smith agreed with Myles, who hopes to pursue Computer Science and Musical Theater in the fall with the goal of becoming a Software Engineer—an indication that education is an important component of both women’s careers.
While Smith’s pageant career began at the University of Kentucky, it wasn’t until she secured a job at the television station that she was able to afford to compete—and after a few months, she made the decision to do so.
“The moment they called my name it was shock and then relief just because there had been so much hard work to get me to that moment,” she said ahead of her Miss USA win, per UK News. “And I never walked in wanting to win. I wanted to do the best that I could but also know that I had put in the work to be there, put in all the work I needed to do to be on that stage, and I could say that. That’s why I would’ve been happy no matter what.”
It wasn’t always easy for her to balance her pageant responsibilities with those of her full-time job, according to NPR, who reported that most of Smith’s pageant-related sponsors are located outside the station’s viewing area to avoid conflicts of interest. NPR added that the Smith believes her skills in journalism set her apart in the pageant world.
“A Miss USA, her job is to connect with people,” Smith said, per NPR. “She should be able to speak with a three-year-old, she should be able to speak with a 90-year-old veteran or the CEO of a business, and we do that every single day at work.”
Celebrating her win via Twitter, Smith said, “GOD IS SO GOOD. I am thrilled to be your Miss USA 2021!!!! Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey. Kentucky this is a win for us all!!!!!”
Smith’s future as a journalist is unknown, but she will compete in the Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 12 in Eilat, Israel, after taking over the reins of Miss USA. She is expected to migrate to Los Angeles on a full salary to represent the country for a year.
Smith is the second Miss Kentucky USA to win the Miss USA title, following Tara Conner in 2006.