Talking Miss Universe Pageant With Natalie Morales

I had buck teeth and I was not a pretty kid. It took having a good dentist to fix me up. _Natalie Morales: Co-Host of The Miss Universe Pageant

Natalie Morales: Co-Host of The Miss Universe Pageant
News Anchor and Co-Host, Third Hour Co-Host TODAY
By: Judith Wallace

Natalie Morales (NBC’s “Today”) and Andy Cohen (BRAVO’s “What What Happens: Live”) will co-host the 2011 MISS UNIVERSE Pageant live from Credicard Hall in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12 (9 p.m. ET) on NBC. The two-hour television event (a live Spanish simulcast will air on Telemundo), comprised of contestants representing approximately 90 countries around the world, will compete in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete of Mexico will crown her successor at the conclusion of the telecast.

Were you ever a pageant chick?

Natalie Morales: Oh, no. I had buck teeth and I was not a pretty kid. It took having a good dentist to fix me up.

Which do you find more challenging, your job on the TODAY Show or hosting Miss Universe?

Natalie Morales: My job on the TODAY Show obviously has a lot more challenges, but I think for the Miss Universe Pageant the fact that it’s two hours live it’s a lot of contestants. We have women from 89 countries competing, so it’s just keeping the whole flow of the show on time and making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Why did you sign on for this gig?

Natalie Morales: Getting a chance to go home in a lot of ways because I am half Brazilian and I lived there when I was ten – seven to ten years old, so I know the beauty of Brazil and I couldn’t be more excited that. It’s resurgence as a world power is prime. I think a prime example is the fact that it’s getting to host such a great event, which is the Miss Universe Pageant on the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe Pageant, so what a great way to celebrate that and all of these beautiful ladies. So Brazil is an incredible country, and it’s taking the world by storm again, and it’s an incredible opportunity for these ladies to showcase all they have to offer as well in a country that I believe is proving to the world that it’s time they’re taken more seriously.

What advice would you offer these young women competing on this stage?

Natalie Morales: I was the host of this competition last year as well and I think these are young women who have an opportunity to be really sort of ambassadors for their country. I hope they are just proud in the fact that they’ve gotten so far in the competition and they don’t forget where they came from to be there. I know they all are going to shine and look stunning and spectacular. Beauty is one thing, they’re all gorgeous. There’s no question about that. I think what I really look to is the strength of their character, not just in seeing a little bit in how they compete, but also in how they represent, as you know being a role model. But then as well, their message, what they hope to accomplish if they’re given the crown, if they become the new Miss Universe. I think it’s really important they realize that it’s an important platform, it’s not a beauty contest, this is truly about picking someone who is an ambassador to the world and who hopefully will be eloquent, intelligent, beautiful, because that always helps just to get the message out. But again, it’s really about being able to be well-spoken and really deliver an – a positive image to the world.

Do you speak any Portuguese?

Natalie Morales: I speak Portuguese, so that was the appeal really is I think it’s a win-win because I get to hopefully practice my Portuguese a little bit and really have a chance to get back and see this beautiful country, which I’m so excited. And my family is coming as well, so it’ll be my husband and my boys’ first time going to Brazil, so it’s pretty exciting.

You spent a small portion of your life in Brazil. Can you talk about your experiences there, then?

Natalie Morales: I lived there when I was seven to ten years old, so I’m 39 now so do the math. I was able to go back there for the first time just in March of this year for the TODAY Show, and we did a whole feature series on why Brazil is hot right now from its exploding economy and in the next ten years it’s going to become the world’s fifth largest economy. And it has wealth that is surprising all of us, from its oil reserves and it has incredible resources right now, just natural gas wealth. So, I think what’s truly exciting about my being able to participate in the Miss Universe Pageant is, as I was saying, it’s a chance for me really to get to go home in a lot of ways because I did live there as a kid. And I remember just about everything because for my school, the American School of Rio, Escola Americana do Rio, the EA, American School of Rio, to the beautiful beaches, which is spent a lot of time on Copacabana and Ipanema Beach, to just walking around on those beautiful black and white sidewalks, the Carnivale. My parents wouldn’t let me see it, but I saw a lot of it on TV. So, I remember Brazil pretty clearly all the great tourist sites as a kid we would go to. And my grandmother and a lot of my mother’s whole side of the family, they still live there, so this really is a great chance for me to go back as well and introduce my two boys and my husband to that part of my family who they haven’t met yet.


How do you feel about being a role model to a lot of young people out there?

Natalie Morales: Being a role model is really being truthful, honest with yourself. It’s always being a good example by striving and trying to do things. Always achieving and trying to be successful at everything you do. Because we are in the public eye so much, for me I’m a Hispanic and half Brazilian, I think it’s a really incredible opportunity to speak to a wider audience as our country is becoming much more multi-lingual. And to me, being a role model is really being able to hopefully speak on many platforms about everything that I know about having grown up in many different cultures and having a diverse background.

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