Catriona Gray emotional during Cheslie Kryst tribute at 71st Miss Universe

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray was seen bursting into tears during an emotional tribute dedicated to former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst at the 71st Miss Universe pageant on January 14 in New Orleans.

Catriona shared an apartment with Cheslie in New York City during their reigns. Cheslie tragically took her own life in January 2020 by jumping to her death from the Manhattan apartment building where she lived.

During the tribute, a video montage was played showing a vibrant and happy Cheslie, while she was silently dealing with high-functioning depression.

April Simpkins, Cheslie's mother, went onstage to give a moving message: "Cheslie loved this Miss Universe community. She often spoke about the support she received from all of you and the Miss Universe Organization, and for that, I'm forever grateful."

She continued her speech by talking about Cheslie's silent battles: "The Cheslie you saw didn’t always match the way she felt inside. Just because someone tells you they’re fine, doesn’t mean they are."

And she urged everyone: "We all need to listen when we check in on our strong friends. Create a safe space so they have room to share if they are challenged. Most importantly, we need to listen to them, to really listen to them, and support them."

She then announced a partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which has established the Cheslie C. Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health. The fund will focus on mental health challenges including high-functioning depression.

"I’m honored to be here tonight to share Cheslie’s story and I ask that you share it. Share it with others in hopes that together we can break the stigma and talk more about mental health. Be well," she said before leaving the stage.

Despite a little teary-eyed moment, being a backstage commentator just like Cheslie was during the Miss Universe 2021 pageant in Israel was an "achievement unlocked" for Catriona. She shared, "It's always been a dream to be in the hosting lineup of Miss Universe."

Talking about Cheslie during last Saturday's telecast, Catriona said: "I was her first roommate in New York and she had this very job as a correspondent on the 70th-anniversary show in Israel. And most importantly, she was a loving daughter, a wonderful friend, and an inspiration to so many of us."

Photos: Miss Universe, Catriona Gray / Instagram


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