One of Sweden’s national treasures is Playmate of the Year 1997 Victoria Silvstedt. She is the perfect representation of Scandinavian beauty, with her platinum blond hair and blue eyes. She grew up in a small village in Northern Sweden with a “midnight sun,” meaning it was dark 24 hours a day for three months each year.
At age five Victoria began alpine skiing. She eventually worked her way onto the Swedish National Ski Team and became the fourth-best skier in the super-giant slalom among her teammates, most of whom eventually competed in the Olympics. At 16 she suffered a shoulder injury that ended her Olympic hopes.
In 1993 Victoria’s mom and sister entered her into the Miss Sweden Beauty Pageant. The lifelong tomboy had never worn high heels before the competition. That didn’t stop her from winning the entire event and earning a spot in the Miss World Pageant.
After becoming a finalist in the Miss World Pageant, a French modeling agent discovered Victoria and began finding her work with some of high fashion’s most prestigious companies, including Chanel, Christian Dior, and Giorgio Armani.
Hugh Hefner reached out to Victoria in the fall of 1996 for a Playboy photo shoot. She wasn’t very familiar with the magazine but accepted the offer anyway. The shoot took place in October, and in December 1996 she was chosen as Playmate of the Month. The next year she became Playmate of the Year.
Victoria says the fashion world looked down on her Playboy pictorial and she was stigmatized. She didn’t let it slow her down. In 1998 she became the spokesmodel for the Guess jeans print campaign. She continued to work in a number of magazines including GQ, Maxim, and FHM.
In addition to modeling, Victoria expanded her résumé to include a number of acting roles. She appeared in a handful of television shows, including Malibu, CA; Melrose Place; and Ocean Ave. After a number of smaller movies she earned a supporting role in Boat Trip alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Roger Moore. Because she’s fluent in English, French, Swedish, and Italian, she’s also appeared in a number of foreign films, with a handful of lead parts.
In 1999 Victoria released her first album. Although it did well on European charts, she considers singing mostly a hobby. She also released her own line of lingerie in Germany and in 2010 published her autobiography in France.