Antonia Figueroa isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
The model, who is representing Chile at this year’s Miss Universe competition is eager to raise awareness on a cause that speaks to her. The Miss Universe Organization is partnering with ImpactWayv, which allows users to highlight specific social issues. For Figueroa, an environmental civil engineer, she’s focusing on climate change.
The social media app is kicking off this weekend’s festivities with a challenge open to each contestant that runs through Saturday. Each participant will attempt to create the most “impacts” among their followers. The winner of the challenge will be announced during the live telecast and will receive a donation to the charity of their choice.
Antonia Figueroa is representing Chile at this year’s Miss Universe competition. (Courtesy Antonia Figueroa.)
On Sunday, the 70th Miss Universe pageant is being staged in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat. Dozens of contestants from around the world will compete in national costumes, evening gowns and swimwear. They’ll also have their public speaking prowess tested with a series of interview questions.
Figueroa spoke to Fox News about competing in pageants, the surprising way she’s physically preparing and how we can take part in our communities.
Fox News: How excited are you for this year’s Miss Universe competition?
Antonia Figueroa: I’m very excited. This year, we’re promoting the “Green Agenda.” As an environmental engineer, I’m very aware of the problems we are facing [concerning climate change]. So being capable to spread the word out on a major platform and what we should do to care for our environment – I cannot think of a better place to talk about these international issues. This is affecting our planet. We have very empowered women coming from every corner of the world [to raise awareness]. So I’m happy about that.
The 70th Miss Universe pageant is being staged in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat. (Courtesy of Antonia Figueroa)
Fox News: Were you surprised that this year’s competition was taking place in Israel?
Figueroa: I was very surprised. I never expected a place like this, not in a bad way. When we think about Miss Universe, we think of luxurious hotels or places by the beach. But of course, other places exist. But I was very excited to see a place like Israel, which is so important to history. It is very far from home, which is why my family couldn’t come here. But they are supporting me.
Fox News: What cause are you supporting this year?
Figueroa: I’m an environmental engineer, so I’m a big advocate for the environment. It’s what inspired me to pursue my profession. And this is an issue that affects everyone. Everyone has somehow been affected by climate change and the things that are related to it, like pollution.
I want to let people know that everything we do has an impact. So we can either do something positive or negative. I think it’s so important to learn who we are voting for and what causes they support. And of course, try to call them out. They need to hear the people’s voices and their struggles.
At age five, Antonia Figueroa learned how to play the violin. She also speaks four languages. (Courtesy of Antonia Figueroa)
I’m also a big advocate for children’s education. I started Volunteers for Children [in 2020] where I enroll people who are willing to teach for free … It just requires time. And it’s for anyone who has skills in anything. For example, I do violin or cooking classes. It can be for whatever talent or profession you have. You may only help one kid, but it’s going to be a great change for them. I believe as people we all have different skills, and it’s important to share them with others.
Fox News: What advice would you give to someone who wants to help their community?
Figueroa: There are lots of ways you can help out. As part of Miss Universe, I’m encouraging people to learn about ImpactWayv, a platform we’ve just partnered up with. It allows people to share positive things that can provide inspiration about our environment and how climate change is affecting us.
I would like to encourage people to learn more about a cause that interests them and how they can support it. Even if you don’t feel capable of starting something in your community, you can at least spread the word. And sometimes that’s enough because you can reach more people. That’s a small way to produce a big change.
Antonia Figueroa is a fan of sports, including boxing, basketball and surfing. (Courtesy Antonia Figueroa)
Fox News: Looking back, what made you want to pursue the pageant world?
Figueroa: You know, in the beginning, I wanted to do something different from my studies. I didn’t know much about pageants, but when I got into it, I realized there was a lot more to it other than just being seen. There’s so much more to it than the sparkles and lights we see. Of course, on stage, you feel very beautiful and empowered. But afterward, you get a chance to be heard and discuss issues that are important to you. And that’s very important to me.
Miss Earth beauty pageant candidate Antonia Figueroa of Chile poses for photos during a press presentation in Manila Oct. 11, 2018. (TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
Sometimes I feel that I cannot do enough alone. But when more people listen to me and pay attention to what I’m doing, they’ll join my causes. The message will get across. And we can have a chance for our future, our society. And that’s a great start. Pageants give you the chance to be seen and heard.
Fox News: How do you physically prepare for something like Miss Universe?
Figueroa: I’m a black belt in Taekwondo. I have always practiced martial arts. So I physically prepare as if I was getting ready for a tournament. I want to get stronger, but also mentally prepared. I think it’s crucial to take care of your mental health like you would with your physical body.
Antonia Figueroa holds a black belt in Taekwondo. (Courtesy Antonia Figueroa)
And I enjoy martial arts. People think it’s violent, but when you learn about it and prepare, you’ll realize that it’s more about respect. It’s about discipline, and when you compete you’re doing it very respectfully. And it’s a great way to learn self-defense. You’ll feel much more confident to defend yourself. That’s another plus to martial arts.
Antonia Figueroa said she exercises daily to stay in shape. (Courtesy Antonia Figueroa)
Fox News: You love to cook. So if we were to go through your fridge, what would we find?
Figueroa: I always have three things: onions, carrots and tomatoes. That’s the base I use for every meal. You can use them for meat or vegetarian dishes.
Fox News: Why do you believe a platform like Miss Universe is so important in terms of being heard?
Figueroa: It’s a platform to share your ideas with the world. It has been incredibly important for me to reach this level where I can say something important. It makes me feel that I’m a bit more powerful, so I do appreciate that a lot. And it’s an amazing platform. So many people follow us on social media. Therefore, we can continue to spread our message. I have reached so many people around the world and, in return, they have been reaching out and offering help. It has been an incredible experience for me.
Antonia Figueroa said it’s essential to give back to our communities. (Courtesy Antonia Figueroa)
Fox News: On days when you don’t feel like a potential Miss Universe, what do you do to feel good about yourself?
Figueroa: (Laughing) Yes, it can sometimes be tiring to have a full schedule with so many things to do. But I also think it’s important to wake up each day with gratitude. I am thankful to wake up each day, and know that I will learn something new and I will share something different with others. I am thankful for how far I have reached in my life and how I can set new goals and objectives. I am also thankful to have a family that is proud of me. I think on those days, it’s important to think positive and focus on how much I’ve done already and the more I could do.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.