In 1995 Smith, who is Biracial, made history twice in one year, becoming the first woman of black ancestry to win the Miss Texas -USA title and the first black American woman to win the Miss Universe title.
Smith was born in Redwood City, California, to 19-year-old parents Craig Smith, an African-American maintenance man, and Denise Trimble, a White American secretary.
When Smith was seven, she moved with her maternal grandparents to Kingwood, Texas, where they would later get divorced as well, causing Smith to grow up in a divided home while she attended high school in Deer Park. Prior to her win at Miss USA, she was a sophomore majoring in education at San Jacinto College.
Smith competed in her first major beauty contest in 1994, when she was a semifinalist in the Miss Texas USA pageant, as Miss South East Texas USA. The following year she competed again as Miss Galveston County USA, and won the title, as well as the Miss Congeniality award.
Smith, a multiracial American, became the first titleholder of African-American heritage in the pageant’s history.
At predominantly white Deer Park High School near Houston, Smith was voted one of the most beautiful girls in the class of 1992 but found herself dateless.
After her crowning, Smith was a celebrity contestant on Wheel of Fortune and an award presenter at the People’s Choice Awards.
As a model, Smith worked for Hawaiian Tropic, Jantzen, Pontiac, Venus Swimwear, and Pure Protein among others. She made appearances on Martin, Due South and the TLC documentary, The History of the Bathing Suit.
With the support of Music World Entertainment/Sony, Smith co-wrote and recorded with producer Damon Elliott her first single, “Dom Da Da”, part of the soundtrack for The Sweetest Thing, starring Cameron Diaz.
In 2003, she acted in an independent film (Playas Ball at the Internet Movie Database) where she co-starred with Allen Payne and Elise Neal. She also co-hosted Beyoncé Knowles’ special Beyonce: Family and Friends Tour on Pay-per-view and appeared on HBO in a Saladin Patterson’s short film (One Flight Stand at the Internet Movie Database) with Marc Blucas and Aisha Tyler. She was also a judge at the 2006 Miss Teen USA pageant.
Smith married her fiancé, fitness coach Kelly Blair, after her reign as Miss Universe and moved to Los Angeles. They later divorced.
In 2011 she was presented the Influential Multiracial Public Figure award.