Miss Universe visits amNewYork
The amNewYork offices were abuzz with chatter and stares this afternoon, as Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza swung by to chat with us about her recent win.
"I just thought, 'My God,' I thought of my country, and I thought, 'We made it,' " the 22-year-old Venezuelan beauty told us about the moment she was crowned.
Mendoza has been in the spotlight since age 12, when she was discovered in her home country. By 15, she was working as a model in New York.
"But then I just decided that modeling wasn't enough," she said. "I wanted something similar but to have more relationships with the people."
Hence, the pageants (and wins), which she says are an important way to empower women.
But how about the critics who say pageants do just the opposite?
"I guess everybody has their point of view, like not everybody likes pasta," Mendoza said. "The most important thing is that we are the ones in the pageant, and you have to be happy with what you do. And we love what we do. Nobody pushes us to be in the pageant."
During her year of reign, Mendoza will travel around the world, raising awareness for HIV/AIDS. After that, she wants to pursue her other interests, perhaps interior designing, hosting or radio work.