"I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family," the proud winner says

By Liz Raftery
Updated September 13, 2011 11:00 AM
Credit: Sebastio Moreira/Landov

She’s got the whole world in her hands. Newly crowned Miss Universe Leila Lopes of Angola touts herself as a activist whose reign will be devoted to battling AIDS and poverty.

“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 at the event. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”

Standing 5′,10″, the 25-year-old also cited her smile as being her biggest asset in Monday night’s competition.

But what else is there to the new woman in the spotlight, whose good looks and charm were evident during the ceremony? Here are five facts about the pageant winner:

1. She’s an Ex-Pat.
Though born in Angola’s Benguela Province, Lopes is studying business management in Great Britain. She also nabbed a crown in her adopted home, being named Miss Angola U.K. on Oct. 8, 2010.

2. She Keeps Things Simple.
Her three beauty tips are sleep, sunblock and water. Lopes told the judges she has never had cosmetic surgery of any kind to enhance her appearance. She recommends getting a lot of sleep, using sunscreen even when it’s not sunny outside, and drinking lots of water to maintain beauty.

3. She’s a Pacesetter.
She is the first woman from Angola and only the fourth black woman to be crowned Miss Universe, after Trinidad & Tobago’s Janelle Commissiong, Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana and Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad & Tobago. Addressing the issue of tolerance during the competition, she said: “Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”

4. She’s a Linguist.
She spoke to the pageant judges in Portuguese, the official language of Angola, a former Portuguese colony. The event was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Portuguese is also the official language.

5. She’s Beautiful Inside, Too.
One of her dresses in competition was a colorful ensemble of seashells, fish and coral made of plastic and felt. But it’s not only the exterior that Lopes wants the world to see. “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty,” she said. “I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”