Yewande Gbadebo, 23, was recently crowned winner at the seventh edition of a cultural pageant, Sisi Oge. She shares her experience during the competition
Are you new to beauty pageants?
Not exactly. A few months ago, I auditioned for the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria competition in Uyo. I made it to the final audition in Lagos but I was not selected. I was very disappointed but fortunately for me, my mother informed me about Sisi Oge. Initially, I turned it down but after reviewing my performance at the MBGN auditions, I realised a lot of things I did not do right. I reasoned that Sisi Oge would give me a platform to right those wrongs but I was still not convinced to go for it. Before now, I used to be a model. I only stopped because I needed to concentrate on my studies.
Did your mother get you the entry form?
No, she did not. I escorted a friend to the audition venue. Someone there asked me for my form and I said I did not have one. I was encouraged to pick up a form and surprisingly, I made it through the auditions while my friend did not. Even at that, I was still not sure I wanted to go through with this plan but it took a lot of convincing from family and friends to make me change my mind.
How was life in camp?
Camp was fun but it was a season of mixed feelings for me. We were camped at La Campagne Tropicana, Lekki, Lagos. There were times I was very happy. At other times, I was sad and I cried. It was beautiful been in the midst of other beautiful and intelligent ladies of diverse backgrounds. However, there was the stress of having to wake up very early in the morning and there was little or no time to rest because there were several activities lined up. I called my sister one day and she made me realise that nothing good comes easy and had to bear with the situation.
Did you envisage you were going to emerge winner?
Not at all. First, the designer that made my evening wear did an unsatisfactory job. Everything just seemed wrong! I did not even tell my boss I was contesting. When I was on stage with other contestants, I never believed I could win. Though I had a wonderful presentation, I was tensed up when I had to sing the national anthem (missed a line or two). I did not think I could make it past the top seven.
So you did not have a winning strategy in place?
There was nothing like that. The array of beautiful and intelligent ladies I saw in camp would not even allow me to put a strategy in place. I just resolved to be myself, up my game and play along.
What were you doing before contesting for the pageant?
I studied mass communication and Media Technology at Lead City University, Ibadan. Currently, I am observing my national youth service in Enugu State, where I work with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. I am the Personal Assistant to the Commissioner for the Ministry, Chijioke Agu.
What kind of upbringing did you have?
I am from Akure, Ondo State. My family is a polygamous one and as such, we did not really have it smooth but thank God, it was still a good one. My father, Roland Gbadebo, is deceased and was a captain in the army prior to his death. He had four wives and my mother was the third. I am the last child of my mother but second to the last of my father. My father died when I was only three, therefore, my mother was responsible for my upbringing. She stood by all her children and ensured we had a good education. She did not remarry.
What are those things you want to use your platform to achieve?
I am a cultural ambassador; therefore, I am going to be at the forefront of promoting our local culture at home and abroad. Before now, I rarely wore native attire but that has changed. Our Ankara is even more beautiful than any western wear you can think about and one of the ways I can sell this message is by reaching out to youths. In addition to being Sisi Oge, I am also Miss Redrive Naija and the onus is on me to use my office to promote the ideals of our great nation. We can’t leave things to the president, governors or ministers. Each and every one of us has a role to play in re-defining the future of this country.
Is that supposed to be your pet project?
That is not certain for now. I am still new in office and will need to discuss with the organisers of the pageant. When that is settled, it will be made public.
What are those things that will change about you now that you are a culture queen?
My dressing has changed already. That is not to say I won’t wear jeans. If you see me on jeans then I must be putting on an Ankara or adire top. Something about my dressing just has to reflect our cultural heritage. Already, I wear a bracelet made out of our local beads. Also, I have to conduct myself better in public.I represent an institution and should portray a good image at all times.
Your reign is just for a year. What are your plans for the future?
Even though I have only just started my reign, I am a very futuristic person so it’s never too early to talk about plans. I love putting things together. I intend to enrol for a course in event planning . I also want to take up a career in fashion but I will do all of these, one after the other.
How do you remain slim?
I am 6ft 1” . I think I got my height from my parents. I am blessed to be slim and I don’t have to do anything to remain this way. Maybe when I have kids, I might put on some weight and then I will have to work-out.
Do you have a beauty routine?
I don’t believe in having a beauty secret. I strongly believe beauty radiates from the inside. If you are happy, then you will glow but if otherwise, the reverse will be the case. Your skin is bound to reflect your emotions. The happier you are, the better. When people see me, they think I spend a lot on my skin but I am just a happy-go-lucky young lady.
How do you relax?
I love to hang with my friends. We go for karaoke and then we go swimming.