Elle Smith was crowned Miss USA on Nov. 29. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Broadcast journalist Elle Smith, 23, a Black woman representing Kentucky, was crowned Miss USA 2021 on Nov. 29 and will go on to represent the United States at the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel on Dec. 12.

Born Ellen Elizabeth Smith in Springfield, Ohio, the pageant queen, nicknamed Elle, competed against her Shawnee High School classmate currently serving as Miss Ohio. 

The current Miss USA became a Kentucky girl, when she went to University of Kentucky in Lexington and majored in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. Smith, who was the vice president of the University of Kentucky in Lexington’s National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Chapter, graduated from the institution in May 2020.

While a student at University of Kentucky in Lexington, Smith worked her way up the journalistic ladder, interning in newsrooms and video positions across the country. She worked for the Southeastern conference in Lexington from August 2017 to 2019 on the production student crew, interned doing videography at Camp Ozark in Little Rock, Arkansas from May to August 2018, from January 2019 to August 2019 she was an intern at WLEX-TV in Lexington and was a college associate in Fox News’s D.C. bureau. She began working at WHAS11, Lexington’s ABC affiliate, in October 2020.

The young journalist competed in the pageant on May 22, representing Germantown at Miss Kentucky and won for the whole State.

As a pageant queen, Smith said she hopes to redefine professionalism, particularly in the world of journalism, despite the judgement and haters.

“There’s always going to be people who think pageants exploit people, that they only show brainless beauties,” she told her station WHAS11, two weeks before she left for the Miss USA pageant.

“When I’m walking in a swimsuit, I’m showing the hard work that I do every single day to have a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle,” Smith said to WHUS11. “I would disagree with anyone who says you can’t be professional and wear a swimsuit.”

Many in the State of Kentucky and around the nation are celebrating Smith’s accomplishment.

“WOW!!! This is quite the accomplishment!! Our Elle Smith is your new Miss USA,” WHAS11 News tweeted.

Kentucky politicians also sent Smith their well wishes. 

“Congratulations to Elle Smith on being crowned Miss USA! You make our commonwealth proud.  My family, my staff and I can’t wait to cheer you on as you compete for Miss Universe,” tweeted Senator Rand Paul (R).

“On behalf of the commonwealth, congratulations to on being named Miss USA 2021.  We are proud to have you representing Kentucky,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) wrote on Twitter.

Smith is the third consecutive Black woman to win Miss USA.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor