SAO PAULO -- Newly crowned Miss Universe Leila Lopes wants to help her native Angola further escape a history of war and impoverishment, and said she plans to focus on combating HIV around the globe.
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, Lopes 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 sunblock even when it's not sunny and to drink lots of water. She said her smile was her best weapon in the competition.
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."
Lopes is Angola's first winner. She beat out 88 other competitors to win the title during the 60th anniversary of the world's biggest beauty pageant. She replaces last year's winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.
She deftly handled the interview question that is asked of the top five contestants. She was questioned about what physical trait she would change if she could.
"Thank God I'm very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn't change a thing," Lopes said. "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."
The first runner-up was Olesia Stefanko, 23, of Ukraine, and the second runner-up was Priscila Machado of Brazil. The third was Miss Philippines and the fourth Miss China.
Contestants spent the past three weeks in Sao Paulo, trying to learn samba dance steps, visiting impoverished children and kicking a football around for cameras.
Despite battling against a home-country favorite, Lopes won over the audience, speaking in the shared language of Portuguese.