Miss Universe, Black Queen, Chelsea Manalo, Philippines

Miss Universe Philippines Crowns Chelsea Manalo As First Black Queen

Chelsea Manalo will bear the Philippines' banner at the Miss Universe pageant scheduled for September in Mexico.

Chelsea Manalo etched her name into history on May 22 when she became the first Black woman crowned Miss Universe Philippines.

Representing the Bulacan province, north of Manila, the Filipino American reigned victorious over 52 contestants. CNN reported that Manalo’s groundbreaking win sparks a larger conversation about broadening beauty standards in the Philippines after years of conforming to Western ideals.

Manalo used the Miss Universe platform to shed light on her own experiences. In a YouTube video aired by Empire Philippines, the pageant queen, who began her modeling career at 14 years old, described her life as being like a “rollercoaster ride.” In the “HER STORY” segment, she shared how she grew up being bullied because of her skin and hair type. “My self-confidence became poor, and I started to become indifferent.” However, Manalo credited her support system for helping her “understand her individuality” and making her realize that her beauty is extraordinary.

Gazing into a mirror, Manalo spoke affirmations, declaring herself a woman who embraces herself and knows her worth. The production company highlighted Manalo’s advocacy for youth empowerment with a focus on children’s education, especially among Indigenous communities.

As the victorious representative, the print, ramp, and commercial model will bear the Philippines’ banner at the Miss Universe pageant scheduled for September in Mexico. CNN noted that her mission is to etch the nation’s name as a five-time crown holder, following the trailblazing footsteps of Gloria Diaz, who captured the prestigious title in 1969.

This year’s Miss Universe spectacle will witness a landmark shift, as over 100 countries grace the stage without any age caps imposed on the contestants, abolishing the previous 18-28 requirement. However, the organization has recently found itself under intense scrutiny amid the resignations of the reigning Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titleholders, who cited allegations of mismanagement, an unsettling toxic workplace culture, and conditions that detrimentally impacted their mental well-being.

Watch the live recording of Miss Universe Philippines 2024, here.