Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes (born February 26, 1986) is an Angolan beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Angola 2011 and Miss Universe 2011, is 1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in) tall. She was born in Benguela, Angola, to immigrant parents originally from Cape Verde during the war. Lopes is a business management student in Great Britain. Lopes became the fourth African woman to win the title, the last african who won is Mpule Kwelagobe, Miss Universe 1999 from Botswana.
Newly crowned Miss Universe Leila Lopes hopes her victory will allow her to assist her native Angola further escape its history of war and impoverishment and said she plans to focus on combatting HIV around the globe.
Speaking in a timid voice early Tuesday shortly after taking the crown in South America’s largest city, the 25-year-old Lopes said that “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,” she said. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”
Responding to questions, Lopes said that she has never had cosmetic surgery of any kind and that her three tips for beauty were to get a lot of sleep, use sun block even when it’s not sunny and to drink lots of water. She said her smile was her best weapon in the competition.
Asked about racism in light of the fact that she’s one of the few blacks ever crowned Miss Universe, Lopes said that “any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”
Lopes is Angola’s first winner. She beat out 88 other competitors to win the title during the 60th anniversary of the world’s biggest beauty pageant. She replaces last year’s winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.
She deftly handled the interview question that is asked of the remaining top five contestants. She was questioned about what physical trait she would change if she could.
“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lopes said. “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”
The first runner-up was 23-year-old Olesia Stefanko of Ukraine and the second runner-up was Priscila Machado of Brazil. The third was Miss Philippines and the fourth Miss China.
Contestants spent the past three weeks in Sao Paulo, trying to learn samba dance steps, visiting impoverished children and kicking a football around for cameras as the Miss Universe pageant came to Brazil for the first time.
Watch the video of Leila’s winning moment in Miss Universe 2011: