Collete Nwadike represented Nigeria at the Exquisite Face of the Universe pageant in Sao Tome and she won. The never-say-die lady, who is an adviser on turism to the Anambra State governor, spoke to SAMUEL ABULUDE on her experience, growing up and aspirations.
How does it feel, being the winner of the Face of the Universe pageant?
I couldn’t be more proud of myself! I’m so proud and I’m so thankful to God. It was a tough one.
What are some of the qualities you would say made it possible for you to win?
Well, when we asked the judges the criteria they were looking out for, it became clear that they were looking for not just a beautiful face but someone who is intelligent. Someone who represent the brand and I can tell you that I’m equal to the task.
What would you consider the most challenging part of the competition?
It was a completely different environment. It was trying to adapt to the food. Doing all the stressful activities, and then coming back to the environment you’re trying to get used to. It took three to four days before I was able to fit in to the environment.
When you made it to the top 10, did you begin to think of winning the crown?
At the top 10? I did not. It was after I made it to the top 5. I was actually the first person to be called into the top 5. At the top 5, the first runner up was called; the second runner up was called. So, it was remaining me and Aruba. Then, they were saying ‘it seems like you’re going to win’. But I was saying, ‘why is it not you?’ but they said, ‘No, you did so well!’ Actually I won ‘Best Evening Gown’. So, they were like, ‘Sure, you’re going to win!’ I think I saw it coming at that point.
As a young girl growing up, did you ever see yourself becoming a beauty queen?
As a young girl growing up, I always saw myself as a queen from when I was three. I kept on looking up to people like Bianca Ojukwu, Regina Askia. I saw how beautiful they are and how glamorous they looked. I was like, ‘I want to be like these people someday’! This is a dream I’ve had for a long time. And it’s like I’m living my dreams now.
What were your expectations when you went for the Face of the Universe pageant?
At first, I was looking forward to make friends because we had 50 girls coming from all over the world. The competition was on my mind, but primarily, I wanted to make friends. I wanted to be able to go to any country and have somebody to call. And then when it started, (laughs) I bless God!
How was your experience in the competition?
The girls were very pretty. It was a stiff competition. I was like, having been a queen before, having the backing and I happen to know that people at home have so much support for me, and expecting so much from me. Glory be to God I made it, I am the Face of the Universe.
What’s your project focus now?
It’s actually a world thing now. I have done projects during my time as the Miss Tourism Nigeria. But this is a bigger platform to touch the rest of the world, and specifically Africa. I already have little invitation to Russia, Germany, and Spain. But I want to start from Africa- Angola, Ghana and the rest will come later. My projects are on women empowerment and development. That’s the theme of my project, and that encompasses the youth.
What is the most important virtue a beauty queen requires?
I know that being a beauty queen requires a lot of discipline. People don’t get it from outside. To succeed in the pageant industry, you must be very, very disciplined. My question at the Face of the Universe was, ‘What are the responsibilities of a beauty queen? A beauty queen is an ambassador of beauty and goodwill, not just the beauty on the outside but also on the inside. She is supposed to be a role model. So, put all these in one, then you’ll know how to package yourself into a person who qualifies to be beauty queen.
You are the Special Assistant to Anambra State Governor and also the face of the Universe. Considering the enormous task on your hand, do you think you could can combine being an SA with your current office as the Face of the Universe?
I’m going to have to decide on that! At this stage, I’m just coming in to Nigeria; I’ll have to go back to the tate… and… I might have to resign!
Your state will be very proud of you on this achievement. And they may not want you to resign…
Yes!( She Laughs). I have one year this do this. It’s like once in a lifetime. I’ve once in a lifetime to a beauty queen, but I have the rest of my life to serve my State. This one year, if I give it to the rest of the world, to the children, women, it will be worth it.
You have been in seven beauty pageants before now. What was the motivation that kept you on through those years?
I’ve always been this person that, one I’m a perfectionist. Two, I work hard. And I’m persistent. If I need something from you, (laughs), if you don’t give it to me today, you will give it to me tomorrow or next tomorrow! I will keep on coming, just like the persistent widow in the Bible whose consistent approach wearied the unjust lawyer until he gave her . I believe in that theory.
How would you respond to the support you’ve received so far on this journey?
I didn’t get the support I needed from my family in the beginning but now all that has changed. My mum has been my greatest support and backbone. I have a lot of friends that supported me. So many people who believe in me. They have been with me every step of the way. On the other hand the challenges were how to chart my way to where I am now. I was in school and at a time I had to leave school for sometime to go for beauty pageants. And I come back and people would ask me if I wasn’t tired and tell me that I should focus and study my books.