Even though South Africa’s stunning Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned the new Miss Universe last Sunday, the pageant’s first runner up, Miss Colombia Laura González, stole the spotlight throughout the evening. The 22-year-old model and actress — who starred in the Colombian soap opera La Cacica — wowed the crowd with her eloquence and poise.
“I’m extremely passionate in everything I do,” she said during the televised contest. “With passion, I give all of me on every stage I step on.” Here are 5 standout things to know about her.
1. She is an advocate for gun control. When asked how she would explain terrorism to a child, she said: “I would tell any child that this generation, and even mine, needs a world with less weapons. Please more books, more culture, more friends, more love.” A month prior, González affirmed her anti-guns stance, writing: “Books, not guns. Culture, not violence.”
2. She loves animals. On Sept. 13, she shared an adorable photo with her pup with a caption that reads: “She is giving me her wild love.”
3. She’s a graceful competitor. She posted a photo with fellow Miss Universe contestant — and ultimate winner — South Africa’s Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, celebrating her beauty. “And now a place here for the stunning South Africa,” her caption read.
4. She’s a devoted Selena Quintanilla fan. On Oct. 20., she shared a black and white photo of the late singer with the following caption: “LATINA #pride #SelenaQuintanilla #eternallove.”
5. She overcame bullying. Although she has an enviable figure today, she admitted she was bullied as a child for being overweight. Through discipline and hard work, she says she became the version of herself she wanted to be.
Gonzáles, who stood out among the 91 others contestants for her authenticity and intelligence, is also committed to the idea of self-invention. Over the summer, she shared a photo of herself as a child eating ice cream with the bold declaration: “#YouAreWhoYouWantToBe.”