Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (born 24 September 1989), formerly known in the Philippine entertainment and modeling industry as Pia Romero, is a Filipino beauty pageant titleholder, model and actress who was crowned Miss Universe 2015 on 20 December 2015 after becoming Miss Universe Philippines 2015 at the Binibining Pilipinas 2015 pageant on 15 March 2015. She is a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia & the Pacific since 2016.
Wurtzbach is the third Filipina to win the title of Miss Universe, following Gloria Diaz who won in 1969 and Margarita Moran who won in 1973.
Early life and background
Wurtzbach was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a German father and Filipino mother. Her middle name "Alonzo" is her mother's maiden name, as per the naming practice in the Philippines and based upon Spanish naming customs. The family would settle, however, in Iligan in the Philippines and would later move to Cagayan de Oro in the country's Northern Mindanao region where she attended kindergarten at Kong Hua School and primary school at Corpus Christi.
Her parents separated when she was 9 years old and she became the family's main breadwinner by doing modeling and acting. After being raised in the Philippines, she spent several years in England. She finished her secondary education at ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center in Quezon City, Metro Manila and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in San Juan, Metro Manila. Wurtzbach speaks fluent Cebuano, English and Filipino. She also speaks basic German, which she described as "enough to get myself a bratwurst".
Wurtzbach is a professional model, actress, host and TV personality. She began acting at age four under the stage name Pia Romero. Managed by ABS-CBN Corporation's talent agency, Star Magic, she was included on the Star Circle Batch 11. Among her TV credits are the teen-oriented series K2BU, the concert variety program ASAP, the romance anthology Your Song, the sitcom show Bora, and the drama series Sa Piling Mo. She appeared in films such as Kung Ako Na Lang Sana (2003), All My Life (2004), and All About Love (2006). She went on to become a stylist, makeup artist and beauty writer for Philippine Daily Inquirer's 2bU section.
Wurtzbach joined the Binibining Pilipinas Pageant three times before winning the Binibining Pilipinas Universe title. During Binibining Pilipinas 2013, she was named as the 1st Runner-up. She joined the Binibining Pilipinas 2014, but only placed in the top 15. A controversy erupted when she failed to win any title following her question-and-answer portion. She was asked a question in Tagalog by a Filipino judge, Senator Sonny Angara, which she answered in Tagalog. Online commentators wondered if the question and answer in Tagalog cost her points from the international judges and, therefore, any title that year. On her third attempt for the title in 2015, she won the highest title, Miss Universe Philippines, and went on to compete in the Miss Universe 2015 Pageant. During the question and answer portion of the pageant she was asked by then-Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo: "Social media is now a very powerful tool on communication. Can you tell us your thoughts about internet censorship?", she answered:
"I think that we should be careful about what we post online especially our thoughts and our opinions, that we don’t hurt anybody especially selfies, we have to be careful with what we post especially in our bodies, in our faces. So always think before you click."
Miss Universe 2015
Wurtzbach represented the Philippines in the 2015 Miss Universe contest held on 20 December 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. During the first question and answer round, Wurtzbach was asked by host Steve Harvey: "Earlier this year, there was a controversy in the Philippines about the United States reopening a military base in your country. Do you think the United States should have a military presence in your country?", Wurtzbach answered:
"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 in 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."
In the final question and answer portion, the top three contestants were asked the same question by Harvey: "Why should you be the next Miss Universe?" and she replied:
"To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth, and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart. Thank you."
At the end of the show, host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner. However, after Gutiérrez's crowning, Harvey returned to the stage and stated that he had misread the results and that Wurtzbach was really Miss Universe 2015. Paulina Vega (Miss Universe 2014) then removed the crown from Gutiérrez's head and placed it on Wurtzbach's head.
Wurtzbach is the third Miss Universe from the Philippines after Gloria Diaz in 1969, and Margarita Moran in 1973.
On 21 January 2016, she traveled to Bali, Indonesia to shoot a commercial for C 1000, a vitamin brand available in Indonesia. Two days later, on 23 January 2016, she arrived in the Philippines for a week-long homecoming celebration with visits to the cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay and Quezon City. She also had courtesy calls to the Congress of the Philippines, Senate of the Philippines and Malacañang Palace.
On 1 February 2016, she arrived in San Francisco to fulfill her duties as Inside Edition's special correspondent for Super Bowl 50. While in San Francisco, she was also reunited with Janine Tugonon, Miss Universe 2012 1st Runner-up from the Philippines.
On 28 February 2016, she travelled to Toronto, Canada to deliver a speech against bullying at the Speakers Forum for the International Students of the Language Academy of Canada wherein she shared some of her childhood experiences as a victim of bullying. During her stay in Canada, she was reunited with Miss Universe Canada 2015, Paola Nunez Valdez. She also met and gave some advice to the contestants of Miss Universe Canada 2016.
On 25 March 2016, Wurtzbach returned to the Philippines for an unannounced visit to take care of some personal things including renewing her Philippine passport, charity works and film a new commercial for Philippine Airlines. She also met and gave advice to the candidates of Binibining Pilipinas 2016 during their press presentation. On 12 April 2016 she came back to the Philippines for the Binibining Pilipinas 2016 pageant and on 17 April crowned her successor Maxine Medina as Miss Universe Philippines 2016 during the coronation night. During the pageant she was reunited with Miss Myanmar 2015, May Barani Thaw and Miss Malaysia 2015, Vanessa Tevi while Miss USA 2015, who at Miss Universe, placed 2nd runner-up, Olivia Jordan served as a judge. Wurtzbach's farewell speech and walk at Binibining Pilipinas 2016 as Miss Universe Philippines 2015, trended at social media with enormous hits.
On 21 April 2016, Wurtzbach arrived in Peru to attend Miss Peru 2016 pageant where she served as a judge. She also had a press conference a day before the pageant and was greeted by the Lima City Mayor, Luis Castaneda and received an honor of being "The Distinguished Guest of Lima". Wurtzbach along with Miss Peru 2015, Laura Spoya crowned Valeria Piazza, Miss Peru 2016.
On 27 April 2016, Wurtzbach threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the New York Mets. A month later on 27 May 2016, Wurtzbach travelled to Machala, Ecuador to help the victims of the recent earthquake that killed the lives of at least 600 people. She was welcomed by the mayor of Machala, Carlos Falquez Batallas to the city and was named as an honorary volunteer of the Guayas Red Cross wherein she was invited to participate in the global appeal of raise resources to build 6,000 homes for the earthquake victims. She was also given a chance to meet Connie Jiménez, Miss Ecuador 2016 during her visit.
In June 2016, Wurtzbach represented the Philippines and the Miss Universe Organization in a high-level meeting of the United Nations that aimed at ending AIDS.
In her capacity as Miss Universe, Wurtzbach visited Indonesia, Canada, Peru, Ecuador, the Cayman Islands, Thailand, Panama, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, several cities across the United States and her native country, the Philippines.
As a parting gift on her final official photoshoot, Wurtzbach was granted access to the elusive Mikimoto Crown. Wurtzbach relinquished her Miss Universe crown and passed it on to Iris Mittenaere of France at the 65th Miss Universe pageant, held on 29 January 2017 in Manila, Philippines.
Post Miss Universe
On 29 January 2017, Wurtzbach revealed that she has signed a contract with WME/IMG's IMG Universe division where she will continue to work with the Miss Universe Organization as an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate after her reign.
It was also revealed that she will appear on the fifth cycle of Asia's Next Top Model as a guest judge on several episodes.
On 5 May, she is reportedly set to costar with Vice Ganda and Daniel Padilla in a film under production of Star Cinema. The project will serve as her acting comeback after six years and her first film in more than a decade. The film entitled Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad will serve as one of the eight official film entries in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.
Wurtzbach served as a judge during the final coronation night of Miss Universe 2017.
She is set to star in another Star Cinema movie entitled My Perfect You alongside Gerald Anderson.
Although a practising Roman Catholic and Marian devotee, Wurtzbach has openly supported views that are at variance with Catholic Church teaching, particularly the distribution of birth control via full implementation of the Philippines' Reproductive Health Law. and recognition of LGBT rights in the Philippines. Wurtzbach's advocacy for same-sex marriage became particularly visible in the wake of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, releasing an Instagram post declaring her support for the LGBT community. On 13 December 2016, Wurtzbach met with Manila Archbishop Luis Tagle for Caritas Internationalis at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros and received a personal rosary from Pope Francis.
Wurtzbach supports gender equality. She stated on Twitter that she neither has plans to marry nor to have children anytime soon after her reign.
On 16 January 2017, Wurtzbach confirmed to have been in a relationship with Filipino-Swiss race car driver Marlon Stöckinger. The two had reportedly started dating by October 2016.
On 3 May 2017, Wurtzbach was named a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific.