Leila Lopes of Angola crowned Miss Universe

Sept. 12, 2011

After a gripping end to a finale, Miss Universe 2011 was crowned Monday night in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The winner: Miss Angola Leila Lopes, who beat out 88 contenders to win the world's largest beauty pageant.

The 25-year-old beauty queen pledged to help Angola move past its history of war and impoverishment. She also plans to focus on HIV advocacy worldwide.

"As Miss Angola I've already done a lot to help my people," Lopes said. "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 now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more."

The soft spoken beauty offered down to earth advice when asked about her three favorite beauty tips: Get plenty of sleep, always use sunblock and drink lots of water. She asserted that she's never had plastic surgery.

"Thank God I'm very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn't change a thing," Lopes said, responding to the question of what part of her body she'd change. "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."

Leila Lopes was also asked about racism in light of the fact that she's one of the few black women to earn the Miss Universe crown. Lopes responded, "any racist needs to seek help."

"It's not normal in the 21st century to think in that way," she said.

Leila Lopes is a jewel of African culture, read other stories on the culture

Miss Universe, Leila Lopes of Angola

Rounding out the top five at Monday's pageant were Miss Brazil, Miss China, Miss Philippines and 23-year-old Miss Ukraine Olesia Stefanko, who was the first runner-up.

The top ten also included young women from Australia, Costa Rica, France, Portugal and Panama.

Leila Lopes is a real ambassador of Angola, who aspires to help in the development of her country. She is intelligent, humble and deserved the crown.

There are more hidden treasurers of Africa that the world will see in the future, so keep the optimism.

And the winner is......

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