AFTER seven attempts at becoming a beauty queen, Collette Nwadike eventually emerged the first black girl to be crowned Exquisite Face of the Universe, in a keenly contested competition at the 2015 edition of the Exquisite Face of the Universe pageant in Sao Tome.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with her about her grass to grace story.
How was the experience?
It was wonderful. I had a great time. At first, I was looking forward to meeting friends. We had 50 girls from different countries. The competition was on my mind but I wanted to make friends too. I wanted to have somebody to call when I travel to other countries. When it started, I met all the girls. They were so pretty. I really enjoyed myself. I must say it was a stiff competition but my previous experience helped me a lot. I also had it at the back of my mind that people at home were expecting so much from me.
How does it feel winning?
I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I am thankful to God. It was a tough one for me but I thank God I was able to make it.
What gave you an edge over others?
When the judges were asked what their criteria were, they said, they are not just looking at the face but for someone who is intelligent. Someone who is beautiful in and out. Someone that can represent the brand. I think I fit into all the categories.
What part of the process was most challenging?
It was adapting to the change of environment. The food, the girls from other countries. It took up to four days to get used to the environment. Then, coming back to settle down in the environment I am used to.
What went through your mind when they called the top 10?
At top 10, I was still calm but at top five, I was the first person to be called at top five. After all the questions, they reduced the number to three. The other two girls were saying you are the winner, you did well, you won Best Evening Gown. At that point, I saw it coming.
Have you always wanted to be a beauty queen?
I saw myself as a queen while growing up. When I was of age, I used to admire the likes of Bianca Ojukwu, Regina Askia. I saw how beautiful and glamorous they looked on television. I used to say that I wanted to be them some day. It is usually a dream I had a long time ago. It is like I am living my dream now.
How were you able to prepare yourself in order to achieve your dream?
I know being a pageant queen requires a lot of discipline, people don’t get it. If you want to succeed in this industry, you have to be disciplined. I can remember that my question for the night was to tell them who a beauty queen is. As a beauty queen, you have to be a role model. You shouldn’t just be beautiful outside alone but inside as well. If you put all these in one, you will know how to conduct yourself, groom yourself for your dream.
How will you combine being Exquisite Face of the Universe to your role as a special assistant on tourism to Anambra governor?
I will have to decide on that later. I just came back to the country. I may have to resign. I will decide later. I have a year to do this, to serve the rest of the world. I have the rest of my life to serve my state.
You went in for almost seven pageants before clinching your new title. How does that feel not giving up?
I have always been an expectant person. I work hard and I persist in whatever I do. If I wanted something, if you don’t give me today, you will give me tomorrow or next tomorrow. I will continue to persist until I get what I want. I am like the woman in the Bible. The woman was always going to the lawyer that does not fear God nor man but her persistence got her, her request.
What challenges did you face before getting here?
So many people did not believe in me. I was in school then, I had to leave the school for beauty pageant camp and I came with nothing at times. People used to say can’t I forget about beauty pageant and face my studies. But, I wanted to study and at the same time, I had a dream to be a beauty queen. It was so discouraging, at some point, people will write negative things on paper and pass it around the school. People gossiped about me a lot.
Looking back to those times, how does it feel getting to your dream?
People who know me know my story that I am persistent. That I don’t give up. I owe all thanks to God, then the people I have met who have helped me on my way to the top.
Who will you dedicate this crown to?
I will dedicate it to every struggling girl out there. Every girl who has a dream should not give up. Even when you don’t have your parent’s support because at first, I didn’t have my parent’s support too. It was later they supported me. As long as what you are doing is legal, don’t give up.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN