Survivor

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Monika Radulovic, the former Miss Universe who could win Survivor

When she's not belly-flopping off a tower in the jungle, this Survivor quiet achiever is loving this year's floral fashion trends.

By Alex Lilly

She's represented Australia on the world stage for Miss Universe, but now, Monika Radulovic is one to watch on this year's Survivor.

But aside from what we've seen on TV, what exactly do we know about this former beauty queen? Monika chatted exclusively to Now To Love to spill on her most memorable moments from her Miss Universe days, married life and what it was like battling it out for the title of Sole Survivor.

Fresh from Fiji, Monika has swapped *Survivor* for spring fashion.
Fresh from Fiji, Monika has swapped Survivor for spring fashion.

Monika's experience on Miss Universe 2015

It's been three years since Monika competed in the 2015 Miss Universe beuaty pageant and while the whole experience seems like a world away from where she is today, it's one she'll never forget.

"It was a really empowering thing to be able to do because I think there are so many stereotypes when it comes to pageants and I didn't see anything more opposite from that. These women were so intelligent, so driven and they really had goals set in mind and being Miss Universe for their country was a sort of platform that they could continue these goals moving forward.

"Being surrounded by that was inspiring and there was no bitchiness as surprising as it sounds. I was getting ready for potential cattiness but for the most part it was like we were on school camp and they were all my high school friends. We were all experiencing the same thing and it was such a real experience for everyone, I think we all banded together."

READ MORE: 12 empowering quotes to remember when the odd male-chauvinistic curveball is hurled your way.

Monika made it to the top five of the Miss Universe competition in 2015.
Monika made it to the top five of the Miss Universe competition in 2015.

That was also the year when when host Steve Harvey accidentally announced the wrong winner.

"When you first think about it, and for me as well, I really felt for Miss Columbia who was the first runner-up because she was crowned and then the crown was taken off her, but at the same time it was always meant to be Miss Philippines's crown. Normally, you don't even know who first runner up is, whereas that year, Miss Columbia was featured so heavily which was incredible for her and her career.

"As hard as it was at the time, I'm sure she looks back now thinking it was a blessing because it sort of put her on the map and gave her a lot more exposure that what would necessarily have normally been the case."

WATCH: The wrong winner is crowned at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.

Who is Monika's husband?

Monika married artist Alesandro Ljubicic in March 2018, but the couple's first encounter in 2012 was by chance through Facebook...talk about a modern day fairytale!

It was just a month before the wedding that Monika found out she'd be appearing on Australian Survivor as well, so there wasn't much time to prepare, but there was still time for a honeymoon.

"The day after our wedding we went to Hawaii for a week. So instead of physically and mentally preparing for Survivor I was relaxing by the pool with my husband enjoying the last bit of normality and spending time with him as much as I could before I went out onto the island."

READ MORE: The best tropical honeymoon destinations to visit.

Monika and husband Alesandro tied the knot in March 2018.
Monika and husband Alesandro tied the knot in March 2018.

Monika's experience on Australian Survivor

Not only did she get married, but 2018 has been a big year for Monika since she starred on Australian Survivor. And the former Miss Universe wanted to show herself and everyone at home that she was so much more than that title.

"It was a big growth experience so I really wanted to challenge myself in every single way and I definitely did that.

"It doesn't matter how fearful you are, you don't have to be the best but it's about being courageous and doing your best. When I saw my team of these incredible elite athletes and Australian Olympians, I was so intimidated and there was no way I could ever live up to them in terms of my physicality but you can't compare yourself, you just have to do your best and that's what I took from it.

"I've had a wonderful response, so many supportive people and some who I haven't even met before sending me positive messages saying that they're cheering me on and following me in the game."

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"We all have a Whatsapp group chat...except Russell."
"We all have a Whatsapp group chat...except Russell."

And while she's sure plenty of people were expecting her as an ex Miss Universe contestant to be a bit of a princess, she really threw herself into the experience.

"Obviously I was totally out of my comfort zone in terms of being without anything on the island but I honestly revelled in the fact that we didn't have anything. We didn't have shampoo, soap, toothbrushes or toothpaste, all I had was the ocean and some sand to exfoliate and that was the extent of my beauty routine and I loved it."

As for the food situation, while it was just beans, rice, coconut and papaya, Monika says the struggle wasn't so much the plainness, but the small portions that were the struggle.

"After a while, the beans and rice especially with some toasted coconut on top of it tastes good. We just didn't have enough to satisfy us, we had a cup per meal.

"But don't worry, I'm sure all of our weight came back on after we started eating normally again."

Take a look at some of the most drastic Survivor weight loss transformations over the years.

There's a lot of love between the cast.
There's a lot of love between the cast.

It may look tense at those tribal councils, but Monika admits all of the Champions and Contenders are a close-knit bunch. With one exception.

"We've all got a Whatsapp group and we've all been talking, like the whole cast apart from Russell.

"You'd think that after being voted out people would be a little bit bitter but everybody has been so good about it and we've all had laughs and jokes about it and people saying 'I respect your game, good on you for voting me out,' so it's been really nice to see that everyone's taken it with a grain of salt."

While she says Robbie and Benji's bromance is cute, it's Shonee and Fenella's friendship that Monika thinks that Shenella are the true power couple.

"They really found their best friend. They had someone they could really rely on in the island and trust completely which is so rare. I got along with everyone, but I didn't have that one person like friends and family back home but they did, they just love each other!"

Monika's fashion picks for Spring 2018

Monika hosted the First Look Spring Runway Fashion Show at Westfield Miranda in September, but what is she excited about for Spring 2018?

"I love spring as a season because the weather warms up, you can be a little bit more playful with your wardrobe, you don't need to make sure you've got your big coat. Spring to me screams playfulness, the pastel colours will be coming out I'm sure. I love baring legs again and having beautiful flowy skirts and dresses but then also I've seen lots of power suits as well. Women are really embracing their power and aren't worried about dressing in more of a traditional style."

And with racing season around the corner, you can bet Monika will be in attendance.

"For me, I'm so inspired looking at women's fashion when I'm attending the races. Every year I try and up my ante as well!"

Bring on those spring power suits!
Bring on those spring power suits!