Last night marked the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant, the biggest beauty pageant in the world. I’m a little unclear as to why it’s called Miss Universe; the name implies that it encompasses more than one planet, but as far as I can tell, no extraterrestrial beings have ever competed in it. But that aside, it was a night of glitz and glamor in São Paulo, Brazil, judged by the likes of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Adrienne Maloof, journalist Connie Chung, actressVivica A. Fox, supermodel Isabelli Fontana, and racecar driver Helio Castroneves—and now, it’s time to meet the new Miss Universe! Leila Lopes, the 25-year-old Miss Angola, took the top prize and title. What do you need to know about Leila? Read on to find out!
1) Leila was born in the Benguela Province in Angola. A Portuguese colony in Africa, Angola was embroiled in a bitter, 27-year-long civil war until 2002. Not an easy place to grow up.
2) She’s a business student. Good to know that she’s got brains, too.
3) She beat out 88 other contestants for the title. This includes Olesia “Miss Ukraine” Stefanko, Priscila “Miss Brazil” Machado, Shamcey “Miss Philippines” Supsup, and Luo “Miss China” Luo Zilin. (Unfortunately, Alyssa “Miss USA” Campanella didn’t do so well—she didn’t even make it into the top ten.)4) Leila is only the fourth African woman to be crowned Miss Universe in its 60-year history.
5) She’s the first Angolan Miss Universe. EVER. Talk about making your hometown proud!
6) She’s 5’10 1/2” tall. I don’t know about you guys, but she positively towers over me.
7) She’s happy with herself just the way she is. Her interview question asked her what physical trait about herself she would change if she could. She replied, “Thank God I'm very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn't change a thing.” Furthermore, she credits her family with having helped her define her inner beauty, too: “I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life."
8) Leila hopes to use her title to help her country. She said, “As Miss Angola I’ve already done a lot to help my people. I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs. I think,” she added, “now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”