Winfrey Okolo’s eyes must have been set on the grand prize just like every other contestant when she decided to compete for the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria beauty pageant.
However, she went home as the second runner-up; Miss Tourism.
A law graduate of the University of Benin, Winfrey Okolo won the 2012 Miss University Nigeria, which was her first venture into the world of pageantry.
Since then, Okolo has participated in several competitions, including Miss Nigeria 2016, which she emerged as one of the top ten contestants.
The MBGN Miss Tourism talked to TheCable Lifestyle about her life in pageantry, true calling, goals, and travelling.
If you were to describe the experience with one feeling, what would it be?
If I was to describe the whole experience, I would describe it as ‘fun’. From meeting the girls to the LA campaign, dance rehearsals and catwalk rehearsals, the talent show and the main event itself were absolutely fun for me.
With modeling and pageantry, there is always the fear of not winning or not being good enough. At what point did you realise you were ready to conquer this fear on a big platform like MBGN?
Modelling and pageantry are interests I picked up early but quite slowly. A lot of people around me saw the potential in me before I saw it in myself and due to my background I was quite hesitant but thankfully I decided to try it out and once I did, the interest grew with every attempt and so did my decision to conquer whatever obstacle, such as fear, that would hinder me from getting to the very top of it cause one thing about me is that, I never settle till I get to the very top of whatever field I choose and for pageantry in Nigeria, MBGN is that top.
So I’ll say I came to terms with that on time and decided to push myself through the fear. Believe me, that fear was there still the very moment I was called out as MBGN Tourism and as I like to say, ‘courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to look fear in the eye and get what needs to be done, done’.
Tell us about where it started from and the competitions you’ve partaken in leading up to this point?
I believe every detail in my life is a piece of a large puzzle so I’ll say it all started way back in primary and secondary school when I was picked severally to represent my ‘house’ (Yellow house) at the inter-house sports as the queen or little princess. I was also forced into pageant participation in my late secondary school and early university days (like literally forced) and that obviously ignited something.
I was privileged to participate in the Miss University Nigeria beauty pageant in 2012, Miss NYSC in 2015 and Miss Nigeria in 2016.
I noticed you have been called to the Bar. What is your true calling – law or modelling?
Yes, I have been called to the Nigerian bar and would say both are my true calling. I am someone who believes in balance and that makes me see both as two sides of a coin. With law being the conservative and modelling being the obviously dynamic and colourful blend, both combined give you a true definition of who Winfrey is.
What does being Miss Tourism entail?
Being MBGN Tourism entails me representing Nigeria at an international pageant, partnering with the government, travel and tours agencies in seeking ways to improve and promote tourist attractions in Nigeria and beyond and being a public figure from which the younger generation can draw inspiration.
Some of your predecessors have taken up pet tourism projects. Should we be expecting same from you?
I will definitely be taking up tourism projects. A lot is in the pipeline in that regard and very soon, it will be evident.
The title of Miss Tourism has been around since MBGN inception. Do you think it has been exploited effectively?
I believe everyone has a role to play in life and I believe the past tourism queens have played their parts to the best of their ability. I also believe that the way I will do things will be in a way that only I can with a touch of definition, determination and most importantly, excellence.
Your position comes with the perks of traveling. How would you juggle this with your career, family, and relationships?
As earlier said, every detail adds to the puzzle. I’m a traveller by nature, I totally love to travel so I didn’t see it as a coincidence when I was titled MBGN Tourism. With that said, I look forward to touring the world real soon and that would only make me closer to family and friends as they are scattered all over. Withing and outside Nigeria. As for career, it would only be smart to build your career around what you love.
What are the things you’d like to achieve before you take a bow in your modelling career?
There is no bowing for me when it comes to modelling cause even if I’m off the fashion runway and out of the photographer’s lens, I plan to stay a life’s model. A model to advertise life at its best. One that everyone can look at and get the motivation and inspiration to live life to the fullest. Then and only then would I have achieved.