Q&A with Miss Universe Runner-Up and Miss Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios

Madison Anderson Berrios BELatina
Photo Courtesy Madison Anderson Berrios

Madison Anderson Berrios has been all the buzz this winter. Just in case you’re not so good with names, Berrios is famously known as Miss Puerto Rico or as the runner-up for Miss Universe 2019. As it’s expected, such titles have brought a lot to her. From her rising success in the world of pageantry to being questioned whether she’s Puerto Rican or Latina “enough,”, she’s seen quite a bit throughout this journey. But Anderson Berrios is much more than just what meets the eye. The reality is that once you get past the superficiality most of us have been conditioned to fixate on, you start to understand that she’s more than a stereotype. 

Being a young woman, her personal development is still under construction. Yet, she’s still trying to make her voice be heard. Her canvas is clean and she’s vibrantly splashing it with colors that drip of hope. This is something that perhaps wouldn’t have been expected from someone in the pageantry world for many years, which is why it is noteworthy. 

In order to understand her vision, BELatina conducted a Q&A session with Madison Anderson Berrios. This is what she had to say: 

What made you get into the world of pageantry?

My mother and grandmother. They have always been in the industry of fashion, modeling, and pageantry. My mom was actually a queen in Puerto Rico. She won two titles. Growing up, I would always see her crown in the household and hear her stories. This drove me to this world.

Who has inspired you in your journey?

Having my mom and grandmother be my biggest role models inspired me. I wanted to be that same role model that they once were for young girls. I realized that I can use the platform to actually make a difference. That was really one of my biggest motivations. 

In a recent chat you had with Molusco (Puerto Rican radio personality), I saw that you said that you’re the most Boricua out of all your friends. So, that’s why I must ask: What Boricua traits make you stand out in the States? 

Oh, definitely. That is so funny. I’ve always been known as the Puerto Rican in my group because I have a very vivacious personality. I can make anything negative into something positive. I believe that’s part of us, part of our values. It’s in our bloodline to just rise above and to have that light behind our eyes. I always brought my culture and traditions. When I throw a party, I throw it with a lot of sabor. I make sure my friends know that I’m Puerto Rican every second, too. *laughs* I even have the flag in my car and in my room. 

Tell us a bit about Metamorphosis, the program you founded. What’s its main goal?

The goal is to really inspire and encourage women through their personal transformation. Just like the butterfly. It has a transformation of being a caterpillar, coming into a cocoon, and then breaking out of the cocoon with its own set of wings to fly. I believe we can apply that to our own lives. At times people may feel that they’re trapped in a dark place and that there’s absolutely no way out — this is that so-called cocoon. But with that effort, through that struggle, one day you’ll have that set of wings that will help you fly to reach that other level of life you’re destined for. Everything is a process. Metamorphosis is to really just show women that they have the capacity to achieve the life they’re destined for. 

Why have you focused so much on the issue of domestic violence?

I focus on this issue because it’s a silent battle. This is a topic and situation that people tend to turn a blind eye to — whether because it’s sensitive or it’s taboo. So, I really wanted to make a presence on what is happening in our society. Violence has no social status, gender, race, or age. We must realize that this is an issue. This is not just part of society being affected. This is ultimately all of society being affected. It affects our youth and the generation we are going to be bringing up. If we can make a voice to be heard now, we can prevent and lower the statistics. Having a platform as big as I do, I really want to utilize it and do something for a positive change. 

I read that you are interested in pursuing a career in politics. That’s very ambitious. What would be your main focus if you rise up in the political world?

I think it’s really important that we listen to understand, not listen to respond. So, I really want to hear the voices and concerns of our world. But instead of reaching biased groups, I want to make sure everyone has their own opinion and that everyone gets their spot. As we know, there’s such a thing called fake news. I want to ensure that when I get into this [political] world, I’m able to really get the facts out because facts have power. 

What are your thoughts on some of the racist behaviors that were exemplified by many Puerto Ricans this past Miss Universe competition? 

Well, I think it’s unfortunate. I think that when things like these happen when we see division, it’s a great opportunity to educate. We should not let this define who we are as Puerto Ricans. This is a great opportunity to give knowledge and inform people not to criticize or hate. We can teach people other ways of expression and that’s through love, example, and education. Obviously, they [Puerto Ricans] wanted me to win, but our Miss Universe now is so beautiful and intelligent. Puerto Ricans are behind her as well. So, I’m not going to allow a couple of people who exemplify hate define us as a whole. 

This past summer, Puerto Rico saw the rise of “Generación Yo No Me Dejo,” which states that the new generation of Puerto Rico will not stay quiet during certain injustices. What do you think about this? 

I think it’s incredibly powerful. Puerto Ricans as a whole have opened their eyes. Sometimes when there’s a shift of controversy, it’s the perfect time for us to wake up and to create our own opinions. Sometimes in life, we go on autopilot when we are just living life and we are just accepting the things that are happening to us in our society. But it’s in those moments that we realize that we must stand up for what we truly believe in. So, I’m very grateful to be part of this generation. Also, to be part of the island who has great courage to stand up for the things they believe in for the betterment of the country and its people. 

It has become rather evident that you don’t sway away from politics, especially now that you are a well-known figure in the pageantry scene. I even saw that you expressed admiration for Governor Wanda Vázquez recently. What do you think of her at the moment? 

I think she can be a great inspiration for young girls to realize that they too can have a position where they have a voice. In that aspect, I think it’s an amazing thing for young girls to see nowadays — that we have the same opportunity as anyone else to be empowered and to be a leader. 

miss universe puerto rico

Photographer: @schaefferstudios
Production: @grpworldgroup
Styling: @daviscarrasquillo
Hair & Makeup: @grisellemua

Any words of inspiration for our BELatina audience?

Absolutely. I think that we need to believe that we have the capacity to step into our power and that we all have the same rights as anyone else. It’s important to just have that belief in ourselves that we can do it and that there is no such thing as limitations. Also, embrace who you are. We all have a uniqueness, we all have a superpower within us. That’s simply the essence of our heart. And never forget where you come from because that is an asset to whatever you want to do in your life.