Natalie Morales on Being Latina, Hosting Miss Universe and What Makes a Woman Sexy

Today Show anchor, Natalie Morales couldn’t be more excited about hosting the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on Monday night. The bubbly and sweet host spoke to about how she got the gig, why she’s not the least bit nervous about hosting the event, and what makes a woman sexy.
Are you excited to host the Miss Universe contest?  
I’m very excited to be doing it! I had done Miss USA and I had such a great time doing that. They were so pleased with our coverage and so happy with the way the show went that Mr. Trump at the time said,  ‘hey, are you available around Miss Universe time at the end of August?’ and I was like, ‘Wow!’ I’m Latina— half Brazilian, half Puerto Rican—and I know what a big deal the Miss Universe pageant is in Latin and South America. I watched many Miss Universe pageants growing up, so it’s a real honor to be a part of the coverage now.
 What are your thoughts on the criticism of contests like Miss Universe—and how some people say they exploit women?
I think it’s kind of silly. These women are showcasing a lot more than beauty out there—they’re the pride of their country. They’re intelligent women and they know how to market themselves. In a lot of ways, this is a talent competition and it’s also about showing grace under pressure. If you get to know any of these contestants, you see that they’re the total package. And if Miss Universe can spread the message for different charitable causes—whether its AIDS awareness or shining the light on issues that don’t get a lot of media attention—for example, the floods in Pakistan right now—that’s great.
 What makes a woman sexy?
Having a beautiful spirit. Obviously all of the women in the pageant are beautiful, but I think what is most sexy is when beauty is understated and it comes with grace and humility.

 What do you think of your co-host Bret Michaels calling you “hot” in a recent interview?
[Laughs]. Thank you, Bret! He’s pretty handsome, too. That’s really sweet. I’m sharing the stage with a lot of hot women that night, so in fact, I think I’ll feel like the ugly duckling. [Laughs]. But it’s a really nice compliment and I’m excited to be working with Bret. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of days ago, and I could tell that we’re going to hit it off right away. He’s a lot of fun and he’s got that rocker edginess, but he’s also very smart and I love that about him.
 Are you rooting for Puerto Rico or Brazil?
I’ve got two horses in this race, so I’m really torn. I think it’s going to take me getting to know the girls before I really know who I’m rooting for. But I have to say I’m really divided on Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Brazil.