Former Miss Universe Natalie Glebova is a familiar face well-loved by Thais. Yvonne Liang discovers what brought this Canadian beauty to the Land of Smiles and what her future holds. Photo by Nick McGrath.

How did you end up in Bangkok?
Since winning the Miss Universe 2005 pageant – which was held in Thailand – and during my time as a titleholder living in New York City, I came to Thailand many times, working with several companies as their presenter. After I passed on the crown, I received an offer from Singha to come work for them as the company’s brand ambassador. I decided I’d give it a try and moved to Bangkok for what I thought would be a year. Six years later, and counting, I’m still here and now call Thailand home.

What do you love most about Thailand?
The general atmosphere of comfort and easy-going lifestyle. People are friendly, customer service is incredible, and there are so many great restaurants and hotels here. I also love the heat and the spicy food.

What are the greatest challenges you had to overcome living in Bangkok?
I think moving to any new country is challenging, and it takes about two years to build up your own circle of friends and network. Besides the language barrier, I’ve found that I’ve had to become more patient living here, because the culture is more laid-back, and life is not as hectic as I’m used to in Canada and the US. Things happen at a slower pace here. It was an adjustment for me to try to sit back and relax a bit, and let things happen in their own time.

How has your life changed over the past six years?
Although I do work a lot, I feel that my downtime is so much more interesting. I can take trips to the beach or mountains within a few hour’s drive, and do a lot of active things like biking, rollerblading, wakeboarding, and even ziplining any time of the year. My life is much more exciting now, with many fantastic events, fashion shows and parties. I don’t travel as much as I used to when I was Miss Universe, but that’s a welcome relief.

I understand things are smelling of roses for you at the moment.
Yes, my most recent business venture was partnering up with Bel Perfumes to launch my very first fragrance. It’s called Beauty Icon and is developed by a French perfume company. It’s a fruity-floral-musk and it smells amazing. Right now it’s being sold only in Thailand at all Mist 1000 parfums stores, Watsons, Robinsons, Duty Free and through catalogues. We are looking at exporting Beauty Icon to other Asian countries soon.

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m looking to do a line of cosmetics and skin care products in the future. I love using products that are good for my skin and are as close to being all-natural as possible. This is the goal for my own line – all natural organic products for the skin and body.

How do you feel about being on the show Dancing with the Stars?
It is an absolute dream come true for me to be on Dancing with the Stars Thailand TV show. I’ve wanted to be on this show since I watched it years ago in the US. I’m excited to learn all the new dances and be able to perform them in front of cameras and audience. I’m passionate about dance, music and performance, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to shine.

What has been the most thrilling part of being on Dancing with the Stars?
The most thrilling part for me is the actual performance of all the dances. I love the feeling of rehearsing something and then showing off my new skills on the dance floor. Ever since I was little I’ve been drawn to stage and performance – I was in every school dance production that was available. I love the rush I get before, during and after I dance my heart off.

How far do you want to go on Dancing with the Stars?
I want to get as close as I possibly can to winning. I do have some tough competition but I know I’m capable of going all the way to the finals. I also really hope to get the chance to dance the Cuban Rumba – it’s my favourite style of dance.