The question and answer portion is usually the most awaited part of a beauty pageant. It is where the candidates are tested in terms of their ability to communicate their thoughts. Miss Universe is a pageant that not only celebrates beauty, but also intelligence and ability to connect with the people.
After all, it is a pageant that searches for an ambassador. These 10 titleholders in the list have proven that they are a perfect package of beauty and brains after delivering a stunning answer during the Q and a portion.
10. Miss Universe 2011 (Leila Lopes, Angola)
Question: “What physical appearance that you want to change to be beautiful? And what is the most important principle that you hold?”
Answer: “I am really grateful to God because He had created me, I am satisfied with the body and the way God had given to me. I wouldn’t change any single thing of my body. I considered myself as a woman blessed with inner beauty. I got many great life principles from my family, and I will hold that principle for my whole life.”
When Leila was left in the top 5 as the only ebony beauty representing an African nation, she was almost certain of winning the title. Though she was not deemed a frontrunner at first, she shone during the coronation night. After delivering a majestic answer during the final round, she has sealed the deal. She also spoke in Portuguese. She was lucky as the pageant was held in Brazil where the country speaks Portuguese, and they sort of not really like their representative who was deemed arrogant, although she made it in the top 5 as well.
9. Miss Universe 1997 (Brook Mahealani Lee, USA)
Question: “If there were no rules in your life, for one day, and you could be outrageous, what would you do?”
Answer: “I would eat everything in the world. You do not understand. I would eat everything twice.”
Brooke Lee might not have been the most beautiful candidate during the Miss Universe 1997 pageant, but she was really smart. Her answer to the final question was so simple, but she injected it with humor. She had the entire crowd cracking up after delivering her final answer. After that round, there was no question that she will be the one walking away with the title.
8. Miss Universe 2008 (Dayana Mendoza, Venezuela)
Question: “Do you believe men or women have it easier in life? Why?”
Answer: “Well, actually God made us to share and to have difference, but big difference between woman and man doesn’t matter with the kind of life they live. . .But men think, they think that the faster way to go to a point is to go straight, and women know that the faster way to go to a point is go the curves and fixin every curves.”
Dayana was a major contender during the 2008 pageant. However, it was also a very strong year where the top contenders stayed with her up until the top 5. Therefore, at that point, it was really anybody’s ball game. Her final answer to the question though made her a total standout. It was not really the answer per se, but the delivery. She commanded attention with her hand gestures, eye contact and posture. She delivered the answer in Spanish and the translation was a bit messy, but she received strong applause for what she said. After that year, those who made it to the final round started to be more aware of their hand gestures when delivering their answer.
7. Miss Universe 2002 (Oxana Federova, Russia)
Question: “What makes you blush?”
Answer: “When I say the wrong things.”
The shortest answer in Miss Universe history is also one of the most remarkable. This one-liner response from Oxana didn’t prevent her from winning the title. Question and answer is not really her strong suit. Therefore, instead of trying hard to come up with an impressive answer to a very simple question, she decided to give a simple short response. Most people think though that even if she messed up that round, she would still take the title home. Her beauty is just way above all the other candidates that year and almost everyone thought she had it in the bag.
6. Miss Universe 2015 (Pia Wurtzbach, Philippines)
Question: “Earlier this year, there was a controversy in Philippines about the United States reopening a base in your country. Do you think the United States should have a military presence in your country?”
Answer: “I think that the United States and the Philippines have always had a good relationship with each other. We were colonized by the Americans and we have their culture and our traditions even up to this day and I think that we’re very welcoming with the Americans. And I don’t see any problem with that at all.”
There were two rounds of questions during the 2015 pageant. Her final answer was a speech on why she should win the title. It was remarkable too, but her response to the first question was even better considering that it was a political issue. She gave a very smart response when asked about the controversial US base in the Philippines. Take note that in 2015, the pageant was held in the US. You can only imagine if she answered negatively. She would have been booed by the audience. Whether or not the answer was authentic, it was a smart move.
5. Miss Universe 1969 (Gloria Diaz, Philippines)
Question: “In the next day or so, a man will land on the moon. If a man from the moon landed in your hometown, what would you do to entertain him?”
Answer: “Oh, just the same things I do. I think if he has been on the moon for so long, I think when he comes over he wants to change, I guess”
The practicality of her response earned her the title right away. Her spontaneity and the way she delivered her final answer made her a major stand out. She did not try to inject colorful words into her response or even come up with a dramatic answer to an issue that was widely celebrated in the US. Instead, she gave a practical response which was sort of funny.
4. Miss Universe 1994 (Sushmita Sen, India)
Question: “What for you is the essence of being a woman?”
Answer: “Uhmmm, I think being a woman by itself, the very fact that you are a woman is a gift of God, which all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother, and is a woman, and a woman is the one who shares love and who shares, and shows a man what love, sharing, and caring is all about. That is the essence of a woman.”
Perhaps, this is the most iconic question and answer of all. It was even asked over and over again for pageants to come. She said that a woman’s essence is motherhood and it earned her a huge applause from the crowd. At that time, it was really remarkable. Despite not the frontrunner during that year’s pageant, being smart really did wonders for her. If we look at the response in today’s time though, it was sort of sexist. Branding women as mere essence, worse, making their existence equivalent to child-bearing, is a perfect representation of what a patriarchal society looks like.
3. Miss Universe 1999 (Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana)
Question: “If Miss Universe were to become pregnant during her reign, should she be allowed to continue as Miss Universe?”
Answer: “Personally, I think Miss Universe is a symbol of a woman as well as she celebrating her femininity and if I believe that (thank you) if she gets pregnant, it should not in any way interrupt her duties. I believe that as a woman she should celebrate her femininity.”
This was one of the best responses throughout pageant history. The way she celebrated femininity and defended a woman has really empowered women around the world. Pregnancy of candidates was a major issue that year as one contestants was disqualified for that reason. Her response was so genuine and the best part was it didn’t end that night. She went on to work with the United Nations, speaking for various causes.
2. Miss Universe 2009 (Estefania Fernandez, Venezuela)
Question: “In many parts of the world obstacles still exists that impede women from achieving their goals in some corporations. What can women do to overcome this?”
Answer: “I believe that nowadays we women have overcome many obstacles and I do believe that we have reached the same level as man have. We must realize that there are no longer any barriers amongst us.”
Talking about gender equality and women empowerment, this is perhaps the best response in a pageant. Not so many people took notice of this though as a much bigger history was made that night – Venezuela winning the title back to back for the first time. However, if we go back to the actual pageant, Estefania was not really a heavy favorite. After making it in the top 5 though and delivering that stunning response, the judges could not resist it and give her the title.
1. Miss Universe 2000 (Lara Dutta, India)
Question: “Right now there is a protest going on right outside here calling the Miss Universe Pageant disrespectful of women. Convince them they are wrong.”
Answer: “I think pageant… I think pageants like the Miss Universe pageant gives us young women a platform to foray in the fields that we want to and forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it the armed forces, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions, and makes us strong, independent that we are today.”
Lara has totally changed the game in Miss Universe. Since her victory, being smart became sort of a requirement to win a pageant. Her response to the final question was flawless and she easily walked away with the crown after that. She went on to do more meaningful things after her reign. In short, her response was not just a spur of the moment answer, but was really from the heart. She really believed in the power of women in transforming the society.
Although we have heard of cringe worthy responses in Miss Universe, it is nice seeing that a lot of those who have taken the title home did well during the q and a round. Some of them even managed to give an answer that empowered women and gave them bigger voices.