Omowunmi Akinnifesi, former MBGN and M.Sc holder from Kings College London is the current cover girl of Y! magazine. We got her to share her reaction to being named the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world, life after the crown and her plans for the immediate future,
When Gwyneth Paltrow was named the most beautiful woman in the world by People magazine, her response was “It’s obviously not true.’’ What is your response to Y! magazine’s decision?
I would say it is a decision that is subjective. I think it’s about appreciating a woman who is probably well educated and beautiful at the same time. To an extent I happen to have both qualities and someone has to be given the title. I don’t think it’s true, I mean so many women are beautiful, the most beautiful are probably in some isolated places that no one has discovered so it’s kind of a tall task. But I am humbled and grateful to be considered but I don’t think it’s true.
What was your first reaction when you first saw it?
The brief I was given for the shoot was ‘smart girls are sexy’ and that is what we ran with so when I saw it live, I was shocked. I was like ‘when did we change themes?’ But I was shocked, humbled and flattered all at once.
When did it first occur to you that you are beautiful? That Aha! moment.
I don’t really think that anybody thinks that they are extremely beautiful but I have been taught to appreciate myself, to carry myself with dignity and to believe that what I believe about me is what I will be so I have always thought I was beautiful, intelligent, well behaved, responsible, the entire package. So when people appreciate you, throw you compliments, you appreciate it and think maybe I do have it, maybe I am really all that.
So beauty for you is not limited to physical appearance?
Beauty can never ever be only about physical appearances.
You graduated from the University of Lagos with a 2.1, must have taken a lot out of you considering the many distractions you obviously faced once you were crowned MBGN.
It wasn’t easy, was very challenging because I was now like a gold fish that had no hiding place but I made up mind to do what I had to do. I could have travelled abroad but I thought I was almost done here so why don’t I just stick it out and then do my Masters abroad. I said to myself, I am the most beautiful girl in Nigeria, I cannot afford to embarrass myself so I had to finish and finish very well. I thank God.
Do you miss the life of a beauty queen?
To be honest, I am still a beauty queen and I have had a better life after my reign. During my reign I was representing my country all over the world but now I am representing myself which is fine because I am my country so it is still the same thing. I am still celebrated so I cannot miss it, I only miss going out to represent my country and meeting 500 other girls doing the same. Apart from that, I don’t really miss anything. I am actually happier now. Heavy is the head that wears the crown so I feel lighter.
Can you enlighten us on the camp experience, how are things really at those things. Cat fights, jealousy, rivalry?
It is lovely. Challenging but it props you for the pageant because you are mixing with people from different backgrounds and you get to really know who you are. It opened my eyes to see that people are diverse. I enjoyed every moment of it.
I understand you do some environmental work with the Lagos state government
I don’t work with the state government, I was given an award and made an ambassador for the environment.
Are there responsibilities that come with it?
Not really, it is only what you want to be responsible for. I am an ambassador, it is an honorary award for people that help the environment and have a passion for it and I was picked to be one of those people. I picked the area of tree planting and environmental advocacy before I left the country.
You have a business initiative, Elle Poise, tell us more
I have Elle tech now which is an environmental consulting agency because my core career is the environment. On the side, are things I enjoy doing like fashion, media so why not? I am coming out with my own fashion line soon.
Having maintained a decent reign and with your post-MBGN example, are there young girls interested in pageantry whom you mentor?
Yes there are young girls who come up to me and I am always very happy to mentor because society is like a naked wire these days so you have to protect young minds and lead them towards the right path. It is refreshing to meet young ones who want to do things the right way, the hard way. Because at the end of the day that is the only way that is truly satisfying.