She grew up in Karvina with her sister Olga. She said "The Velvet Revolution" changed her life. "I was just 12 when communism ended..suddenly the world around us opened up and the course of my life altered forever. I would never have been able to become a model under communism."
Petra Nemcova was discovered by a model scout in Prague and upon signing with an agency, she moved to Milan, Italy. "I was just 15 when I was talent-spotted in Prague.I didn't speak any Italian and my English was very bad because I had been taught the language by teachers who were just learning it themselves. I had no understanding that sometimes people just lie.I had to learn quickly."
Petra has been featured in campaigns for Benetton, Bulgari, Max Factor and many more. She has appeared on the covers of Elle, Shape, Flare, Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated, among others.
Petra was one of the judges for the 53rd Miss Universe Competition as well as host of TLC's "A Model Life." Petra was a contestant on season 12 of "Dancing with the Stars," but was voted off in the 5th week and came in 8th place.
Petra serves on the advisory board of the Somaly Mam Foundation and the Glamour's Women of the Year Fund. She has received several accolades for her philanthropic work including the United Nations, Women Together, Do Something, among others.
Petra Nemcova is also a founder and chairwoman of Happy Hearts Fund. Established in 2005, HHF's mission is to improve children's lives through educational and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas. Her motivation behind the cause was due to her personal experience with the 2004 Tsunami. (She lost her fiancé, Simon Atlee, when the tsunami struck where they were staying.)
She recounted her ordeal, "I felt myself staring to swallow the water and I knew this was the moment my life was going to end. It was actually a moment of pure bliss. I totally let go of any worries, any thoughts; I just accepted this was it. I felt weightless in the water and completely at peace."
Petra Nemcova later said of the tragedy, "Things happen in life for a purpose. You make a choice. You move forward and try and make your life better."
In 2007, she became a vegan to help save ocean life.
Petra Nemcova speaks Czech, Slovak, Polish, English, French and Italian.