Former model Dayana Mendoza's curves lit up some of the most exclusive catwalks before she captured the world's attention as winner of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2008. She was born Dayana Sabrina Mendoza Moncada on June 1, 1986 in Caracas, Venezuela. At 15, Mendoza began modeling in her native country as well as in other fashion capitals including Paris, New York City and Italy. She appeared in ad campaigns for companies such as Gogo Italy, Nero de Savoy, and YMI Jeans Wear, as well as walked the runways for renowned designers like Roberto Cavalli. In 2007, the statuesque beauty became a bigger celebrity after she won the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant, beating out 27 other candidates. During her 2007 reign, Mendoza was reportedly kidnapped in her homeland, an incident that she referred to as an "express kidnapping" in many interviews. While Mendoza did not elaborate on the details, she claimed that the experience taught her how to remain poised under pressure. The following year, she was crowned Miss Universe 2008, and made history as the first Venezuelan candidate to ever win the title in the 21st century. The last time Venezuela had a Miss Universe winner (Alicia Machado) had been in 1996.