Just days after Miss Universe 2011. Leila Lopes, was crowned – rumors and allegations of foul play began circulating through the media. There were reports that the African-born pageant queen from the Portuguese speaking country of Angola was actually Cuban, that she falsified documents to compete in Miss Universe, and that she never attended business school in England.
To combat the international smear campaign against her, Leila Lopes went on record saying that all of the accusations were false. She is 100% Angolan to the bone, her parents are not Cuban, she spent several years in the UK, and she met all Miss Universe Pageant requirements.
Seemingly shocked by the allegations against her, Lopes says she’s completely unaware why anyone would want to discredit her.
“Oh my God, I don’t know. I really don’t.” she responded when asked her opinion on the rumor mill. “I know that every year a girl wins a competition, they’re always people talking something bad about it. But I don’t know why the people created stories like this. I don’t know.”
And in regards to taking up residence in England, she stated “I lived there for almost four years and I’ve attended business school for two years.”
The new Miss Universe says she was surprised to win. However, Leila has believed in this dream since she was young. And she wants everyone to know she’s kind and a normal person.
“You know, like, it’s a dream. Of course when I won I was surprised, but dreams are dreams you know. I’ve dreamed about it. Since I was young I’ve dreamed about it… I’m kind. I’m happy. I care about the others. I have charisma. Like, I’m telling you that, but also people also tell me that. .. I’m just a normal girl who dreams, who fights for what I believe. Yeah. I never give up even when people tell me that I can’t do something. But if I believe I can, I really fight for it.”
Moving forward, Leila Lopes outlines her goals for her reign as Miss Universe. Her plans involve addressing the overlooked HIV epidemic in her country. To be exact, she plans to work to end HIV discrimination.
Lopes explains, “I used to go to hospitals to talk to people who have been infected to know more about the problems they have been living. I think they have been infected with HIV/AIDS. One thing I found out is that they said, like, they don’t think that their life ended when they found out they have been infected. When people start running away from them, like most of them, especially women are abandoned by their family or even husbands. Yeah. This is one thing I really want to fight, discrimination against HIV people.”
No doubt, Leila Lopes, 25, has made major moves thus far. Optimistic about her future, Lopes also opened up about her post-Miss Universe aspirations.
“Well, I want to finish my under-graduation. I hope I can, I want to go back to my country. It’s developing. I want to be part of this development. I want to have my own business. I want to launch my cosmetics line. Yeah, like, I really want to do big things.”