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Ida Ljungqvist: “Smile, it’s the most effective beauty tip”

Exclusive chat with the first Playmate born in Africa in the 50 years of Playboy

ida_ljungqvist1.jpg2nd April 2009: Ida Ljungqvist is Playboy’s Miss March 2008 – and the first Playmate born in Africa in the 50 years of Playboy. Her Swedish father, a director for UNICEF, met her mother while working in Tanzania – and after one brother, the exquisite Ida was born.

As the daughter of such a prominent figure, Ida not only lived in countries ranging from Kenya to South Africa to Malaysia and Thailand, Ida was surrounded by the giants of those countries (with Nelson Mandela topping the list). "I was so lucky to not only have diverse parents, but to live in so many amazing places and make such a wide range of friends, from diplomats to humanitarians to my school mates. I’ve always been at home where ever I’ve lived – I guess you could say I truly am a citizen of the world."

After studying at London’s prestigious Regent’s Business School, Ida visited LA – and there embraced her true love: fashion. Cosmopolitan, business savvy – not to mention gorgeous – Ida thrived in the LA fashion world, working for many of the top cosmetic companies, designers and boutiques (with a plan to open a string of her own).

Ida never considered herself a model, so Playboy was a most unexpected surprise: Sara Jean Underwood (2007 Playmate of the Year) walked into Ida’s Beverly Hills boutique and was immediately taken by her exotic beauty and effervescence – and knew Ida had to be in Playboy.

Ida chats exclusively with AfroNews about her dream of becoming Playmate of the Year, fashion, relationships, how she keeps her figure in shape and her body well toned, and future plans.

Ida, you are the first ever and only African- born playmate in the Playboy Mansion. Do you consider this as an achievement?

I was more surprised than anything else that Playboy never had a Playmate born in Africa! And we all know that African women are (and I’m only being diplomatic) some of the most beautiful women in the world!!! When I learned I was the first, all I had to say was “it’s about time!”

Please share with us how you got into the Mansion.

ida_ljungqvist2.jpgPlayboy was actually quite a surprise for me. After attending Regents Business School in London, I moved to Los Angeles and began my career in the fashion business. While I was managing a boutique in Beverly Hills, Sara Jean Underwood, who was Playmate of the Year for 2007, saw me and said I had to be in Playboy too. So I said why not, I went for a test shot and the rest is history. I was Miss March 2008.

Have your close family members and friends supported it as a career move?

This really was not so much a “career move” as an opportunity that presented itself. I really was not out looking for it – I thought my future was in the fashion world. But it’s been a great experience for me! And everyone has been really supportive of me – I am very grateful for all the good people I have in my life, and the strength of my family.

Did you ever dream of getting into glamour modelling? Do you intend to switch careers later on in life or is this it for you?

I am certainly going to continue my work in the fashion industry as well as other business ventures. So stay tuned.

You are currently top three at the 50th Playmate of the Year Competition, how much do you want to win this title?

I think it would be a great honour. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

What will a win as Playmate of the Year mean to you and what are you required to do with the title?

I have to represent Playboy at various events … and be an example of elegance, sexiness and femininity.

Are you dating at the moment? If so, how does your man feel about you being a playmate?

I actually ended a long term relationship recently. I am single again and I am taking the time – but certainly making the most of my life!

Where is your favourite place to be, Africa, Europe, Asia or America?

I have been fortunate to live in so many places. I’ve lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa (and Tanzania of course), as well as Malaysia, Cambodia and other parts of South East Asia. My father was a Director for UNICEF, so I not only got to live in so many countries but to meet so many important humanitarians, world leaders and dignitaries. The most impressive was Mr. Nelson Mandela. I was blessed to grow up around the giants of Africa and Asia! I also went to college in London, and have lived in Sweden as well as the US now too. Each place has its special moments and memories – but if you had to ask me, I am still an African girl at heart.

What do you do to keep your figure in shape and your body well toned?

I work out three times a week and take belly dance classes. I am also a vegetarian, limit my Chapatis, Mandazis and alcohol consumption.

Coming from the glamour modelling industry you must be equipped with tips. Do you have any fashion, beauty and style tips to share with our readers?

Smile, it is the most effective beauty tip I could ever give anyone!

In LA you meet all the A list celebrities. Any interesting encounters? Have you ever dated a Hollywood celebrity?

Well, a lady would never kiss and tell, but I am sorry to disappoint you – the answer is no. I was until recently in a very long term relationship.

Have you ever been approached with an acting role?

I’ve been approached with a lot of acting roles. I was most recently on CSI: Miami which was wonderful! I am keeping my options open, and acting is certainly a part of the master plan. But I am just enjoying life, enjoying all these wonderful experiences and making the most of it!

VOTE FOR IDA

The beautiful Ida needs your votes to win the 50th Playmate of the Year. Please vote early – and vote often! The deadline for voting is April 15th. Please vote for her here:  http://www.playboy.com/playmates/features/playmate-review-2008/

By Pauline Long

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