VICTORIA Silvstedt is doing this interview in bed. It’s just after 7am Hong Kong time and the former Playboy Playmate of the Year still sounds sleepy as she talks about her new show Victoria Silvstedt: My Perfect Life.
The weekly series follows the glamorous life and jet-setting exploits of the Swedish model, actor and presenter as she crisscrosses the world from Paris to Rome, Cannes, Los Angeles, Sweden and New York.
Today it’s Hong Kong as she begins filming the eighth episode of the reality show.
‘‘ E! (Entertainment Television) came to me when they realised how big my name has become in Europe,’’ Silvstedt says. ‘‘I wasn’t really excited about it at first. I’m against reality shows.
‘‘In the beginning I was really uncomfortable — I was freaking out thinking, ‘I can’t have a camera following me all the time’, but it wasn’t as intense as I thought it would be. They don’t have a camera on me 24 hours a day.
‘‘When it’s early morning and there’s a camera there, that’s when you don’t want to be shown, but I guess it is part of my life so I can’t totally shut it out.’’
So who is Victoria Silvstedt and why does she warrant her own reality show?
Melburnians will recognise her as Sam Newman’s date at the 2004 Logies. Europe knows her from the French and Italian versions of Wheel of Fortune. Americans still remember her as the face of the GUESS jeans advertising campaign.
The 34-year-old is no dummy. She speaks five languages and was a member of the Swedish national ski team (a shoulder injury at 16 ended her sports career).
She represented Sweden in the 1993 Miss World contest before being signed by a Parisian modelling agency.
Assignments for Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Valentino and Giorgio Armani soon followed.
An approach by Hugh Hefner led to a centrefold in the December 1996 issue of Playboy and she was subsequently named 1997’s Playmate of the Year.
‘‘ Playboy was something that came along when I was very young and I was just happy to come to America,’’ she says. ‘‘I never really thought what being in Playboy meant (at the time)— I was so naive. I got huge success out of it. A lot of doors opened for me. I’m forever grateful to Hugh Hefner.’’
Silvstedt acknowledges that appearing nude in Playboy had its drawbacks — it is too easy to be written off as a blonde bimbo — and that she has worked hard to shed the playmate stigma and ‘‘reinvent’’ herself as a sophisticated, world-class fashion model.
Now that she is in her mid-30s, though, she has decided to wind back modelling for more presenting and movie opportunities. She has scored the lead role in Italian movie La mia vite stele e strisce.
‘‘Modelling doesn’t fulfill my mind,’’ she says.
‘‘Movies and television use your brain a little bit more. I do it in different languages, too, so that’s a wake-up for my brain.’’
Victoria Silvstedt has added reality TV star to her growing list of roles.
Red carpet: Victoria and her date Sam Newman at the 2004 Logies.