Her short time on Dancing with the Stars NZ was blighted by illness and injury, but reality TV star Nazanin Khanjani is adamant she has plenty to smile about. Not only has she found a new bestie in her dance partner Tim Mullayanov – who was unable to dance in what turned out to be her last week on the show after injuring his knee in rehearsals – but the former contestant of The Bachelor NZ also feels her reputation as "Nasty Naz" is finally behind her.
"For the first time ever, people are actually being nice to me on social media," she says after her elimination from the hit Three show. "I was determined to prove to people I'm not a villain and this show was so different to The Bachelor. There was no cattiness – we were all just out to have fun."
While Iranian-born Naz, 28, was one of the best dancers, she was the second contestant to be eliminated, after The Real Housewives of Auckland star Gilda Kirkpatrick. The shock result came after Naz, who'd earlier been struck down with the flu, was forced to perform with Gilda's partner Shae Mountain, thanks to Tim's injury.
"It just didn't feel right with Shae. My mind wasn't on the dance because I was so upset for Tim."
Singletons Naz and Tim dedicated the past two months to practising their moves, and the sexy star – who runs a beauty and anti-ageing business with her sister – admits they share a special bond. But despite rumours of a romance after a saucy tango in week two, Naz is adamant there's no chance of love.
"It's just not that kind of relationship – the spark isn't there," she says.
In fact, she's ruling out dating any time soon after a succession of doomed romances since her failed attempt at winning Bachelor Jordan Mauger's heart in 2016. She even pulled out of US reality show The Bachelor Winter Games a week before she was due to fly out at the start of this year.
"I didn't want to risk going through it all again," she admits. "It took a long time to get over it and I am loving being single. It's been good for me. I've had enough of being let down and being cheated on. I deserve more than that."
And now the gruelling dance training is over, the former body builder can't wait to get back to her beloved gym.
"I've lost quite a lot of muscle – I'm even smaller than I was before! I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine and seeing what comes along next."
In the meantime, she's promised Tim she'll keep on dancing with him, despite their time on the show coming to an end.
"Performing is in my blood, so there's no way I'll stop now."
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