On September 12, 2011 Leila Lopes made history as the first woman from Angola to win the Miss Universe crown. The 26-year-old beauty quickly won over the capacity crowd in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as the audience chant for “Angola” grew louder making it a struggle for the competition’s hosts to be heard. Leila is only the fourth woman from Africa in the pageant’s sixty year history to win the Miss Universe title.
Leila was born in Angola’s southern Benguela province, a place she is quick to praise for its beautiful beaches, kind people and amazing food. As the eldest daughter of seven children, Leila cites her family as a positive influence in her life and the source of her strength. Leila was born during Angola’s twenty-seven year Civil War (1975-2002) which gave her a deep appreciation for life and taught her to “make the most of every day.” Since peace was declared nine years ago, Angola has been focused on infrastructure and development, a fact of which Leila is particularly proud. She says, “Angola is a country rich in natural resources and infinite possibilities.”
Before being crowned Miss Universe 2011, Leila attended school for business management at Suffolk University in Ipswich, England. It was during this time she decided to participate in her country’s national beauty pageant. Leila not only won the Photogenic Award, but the prestigious title of Miss Universe Angola 2011, gaining her the right to represent Angola in the 2011 MISS UNIVERSE Pageant.
A strong, confident woman who is not afraid of a challenge, Leila says: “As Miss Universe, I want to show the world that there is more to Africa than poverty, hunger and disease. I want people to know that Africa has a lot to offer and that my country of Angola is not only beautiful, but it is a country that is developing socially, economically and culturally.”