Following her win as Miss Puerto Rico, she then competed against 78 women to win the title of Miss Universe. After she became one of the youngest women ever to bring home the crown, her life turned upside down.
Today, she's known as an actress, model, dancer, singer and published author. But most importantly, Dayarana is a mother who puts her children above everything else.
She talked with WorldRemit about what family means to her, raising her two boys as a single mother and about the time she's lived in the Philippines.
What do Puerto Rico and the Philippines have in common?
Once her year as a Miss Universe came to an end, she travelled to the Philippines to pass the crown on to the next beauty queen. What was initially planned as a brief one month visit to shoot the pageant turned into so much more.
"Before I’d even passed the crown to the girl that won, I’d already landed a job! It was like a big hug. I was only 18 years old, but I decided to stay. And the time in the Philippines was probably the best time of my life."
During her five-year stay, Torres hosted two TV shows, starred in various movies and commercials and launched her career as an actress.
It's safe to say that Dayarana and the Philippines are a perfect match. She fell in love with the country, as well as the people. In the end, it wasn't just her looks that won Filipinos over - it was her numerous talents together with her graceful and kind personality.
Now a fluent Tagalog speaker, the Philippines has become her second home. "It's been just like being in Puerto Rico – even the religion and food," says Dayarana, before adding that she couldn't get enough of sinigang na baboy, her go-to Filipino dish.
Even years after she's left the country, the connection between Dayarana and the Philippines lives on. Although Puerto Ricans adore Dayarana, she claims that more than half of her online audience is from the Philippines!
Dayarana's journey to stardom
In 2000, Dayarana married Marc Anthony. They have two sons together – Cristian and Ryan.
Since their divorce in 2004, Dayarana has worked hard to rebuild her career and a positive mindset. On top of her music and acting career, she also won a popular dance competition, Mira Quién Baila in 2017. But most importantly, Torres has been raising her sons as a single mother.
“I want them to grow up into true gentlemen,” she says.
In February of this year, Yari, as her family calls her, made a tearful announcement on Instagram that she'd been diagnosed with melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
But thankfully with the help of her family and loved ones, Dayarana is recovering from her condition. She continues to spread awareness about the disease to encourage people to take care of themselves.
“My family has been with me through everything. During all the hard things that have happened to me, I feel like my mother felt them twice as hard as I did.”
WorldRemit spoke with Dayarana about the admiration that she has for her mother, who has supported her unconditionally in every stage of her life.
We enjoyed every minute of our conversation with Dayarana, so we hope that you will, too. See more in our video.