Today.MSNBC.MSN.com - 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.
Lopes, 25, laughed and smiled as she hugged runner-up Miss Ukraine Olesia Stefanko, then felt a crown placed carefully on her head after dazzling a panel of judges with her beauty and impressing them with her brain.
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, the business student 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.
"I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty," she told the judges.
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."