Petra Němcová, born 24 June 1979 in
Karviná, Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic) is a Czech model, television
host, author, and philanthropist. She is also the founder and president of
Happy Hearts Fund. In December 2004, she was injured in Thailand by a
tsunami resulting from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake; her then-fiancé,
photographer Simon Atlee, was killed in the tsunami.
Her father was a mason and her mother, a teacher. She has a sister named
Olga. She became a model after being spotted at the age of 16 during a
national talent search.
She was featured on the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Issue and appeared in the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 editions. In
addition to working with world class photographers on her Sports
Illustrated shoots, she was the object/subject of Joanne Gair's body
She has modeled for Victoria's Secret and been featured in advertising
campaigns, including Cartier and Max Factor. On 3 June 2004, she was one
of the telecast judges during the 53rd annual Miss Universe competition in
She speaks Czech, Slovak, Polish, English, French and Italian.
During the Indian Ocean earthquake of 26 December 2004, Němcová was at the
Khao Lak resort in Thailand with her main photographer and fiancé, Simon
Atlee when the tsunami struck where they were staying. Initially, Atlee
was presumed missing, but his body was found and identified on 3 March
2005, on the shores of Sumatra (near the epicenter of the earthquake that
caused the tsunami).
Atlee drowned, and Němcová suffered a broken pelvis and serious internal
injuries, but she managed to hold onto the top of a palm tree, reportedly
for eight hours, until she was rescued by Thai civilians and airlifted to
an inland hospital nearby. Petra spent three weeks in a Thai hospital, and
then flew home to the Czech Republic, where she spent an additional three
weeks in the hospital. Němcová's first interview after her near-death
experience was with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime Live, on 9 March 2005.
She has also spoken of her experiences on the Larry King Live program on
In 2005, Němcová started The Happy Hearts Fund, a charitable organization
and campaign formed after her survival and recovery from the Tsunami of
2004. It aims to advocate and provide for disadvantaged youngsters who
have had to endure hardship and who are not receiving the essential and
sustainable help they need for healthy childhood development. It actively
partners with charities, donors and foundations committed to providing
immediate, tangible assistance for children.
In 2008 she went with Happy Hearts Fund to Peru to help children who were
affected by the 2007 Peru earthquake
She arrived at the Un Conte De Noel Premiere at the Palais des Festivals
during the 61st International Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2008 in
Glamour magazine awarded Němcová a "Survivor Award" in 2005 for the way
she picked up her life following her tsunami ordeal; her comeback being
complete with her appearance in the 2006 Sports Illustrated swimsuit
issue. She also appeared in the 2007 British FHM calendar as Miss May. She
is now the host of TLC's A Model Life.
She wrote Love Always, Petra (ISBN 0446579130) published December 2005,
which tells of her early life under Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, her
entrance into the field of fashion and modeling, and her breakthrough into
Sports Illustrated, which was her springboard to becoming a supermodel.
She also tells of her life with Simon Atlee and how they fell in love and
became engaged to marry.
Němcová has also moved on romantically, briefly dating British singer
James Blunt in 2006.
On 7 July 2007 she was a presenter at the American leg of Live Earth and
appeared in the music video 'Misfit' by American indie group Elefant. She
is currently working with HP computers to produce a multi-million dollar
TV and web campaign.
In July 2007, Němcová became a vegan after learning about the planet's
rapidly depleting fish stocks. The Czech Republic-born model gave up meat
and dairy in February of that year.
Also in July 2007, Němcová partnered with New York City power broker Ron
Schnackenberg to form a luxury boutique real estate firm Aglow Properties,
which specializes in representing high net worth and high-profile clients
in a very discreet manner.
On 12 November 2007 Němcová visited Haiti alongside Haitian-born musician
Wyclef Jean as part of a charity-sponsored event. The inauguration of a
computer lab and an eatery in the slums of Port-au-Prince were funded and
sponsored by Jean's Yéle Haïti Foundation and Němcová's Happy Hearts Fund.
Němcová is signed to Chic Management in Sydney, Australia. Recently she
travelled to Mykonos island to attend a party in honor of De Grisogono
jewels and she also did a fashion shooting for the Greek edition of Hello!
magazine. Němcová is signed to Next Models Management.