By RUMMY CHUKWUMA and NNEKA UCHE
Twenty-two year-old Onyinye Ilechukwu, current Face of CandyCity Entertainment, an online entertainment platform is a graduate of Microblogy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A native of Anambra State, she emerged the new Face of CandyCity last year.
In this chat with Entertainer, Onyinyechi, whose tenure ends in June and who is the last child from a family of four girls opens up on how she won the crown and her challenges including her pet project and why she wants to create awareness about cervical cancer.
What were the challenges you faced during the pageant?
There were lots of challenges. You have to be bold. If you have the fear of failure, you won’t win. I stayed awake all night and tried to drag my friends to help me tag people to like my picture; you have to keep tagging people and you have to be online. You don’t just depend on your friends because most people you know wouldn’t even go online to vote for you and talking to people you don’t know to vote for to you is kind of weird.
Were you into modelling before or you just heard about it and decided to go for it?
I’ve been modeling since my secondary school days. I was beauty queen in my secondary school and also at the university, I was the Queen of my department and the face of my faculty magazine. Before now, I’ve done some pageants. Consistency has been the watch word.
How old were you when you started modelling?
I was in secondary school and about 14 years-old. I made it to the top five. The subsequent year I contested again and I remember my classmates told me that if I don’t win, I’d better change school. Due to that I had to give my best and I eventually emerged winner.
As the Face of CandyCity, is there any project you are working on?
Yes I’m working on my pet project, ‘My Libri My Pride.’ It means ‘my book my pride.’ ‘Libri’ is an Italian word which means ‘book.’ We are targeting Ajegunle. I chose Ajegunle because there is a high rate of illiteracy, child abuse and drug abuse there. This campaign is emphasising the consequences of anti-social behavior. I want them to see education as the key to actualizing their dreams and personal development. My major project aside this is something I started last year. I’ve worked with Project Pink Blue. On October 3 last year we did a breast and cervical cancer awareness. I’m an ambassador for Optimal Care Foundation. Every Friday, we do free screening for breast and cervical cancer and February 4 is World Cancer Day.
How did your folks cope with you being a model?
Now they understand perfectly well but while I was in Secondary School, I really didn’t have much support. You know, when you have friends and family behind you, you tend to do well. But later my sisters were behind me and I did well. Today my dad is happy seeing me on TV and on newspapers. At times he is even the one to call and tell me my story is in the papers.
Does your career affect your relationship in any way?
I take my relationship very personal. But guys have problem with women in the entertainment industry. I travel a lot and when I do, they don’t really understand. Right now I am single because I don’t want to have problems with guys because they don’t understand.
As a beautiful lady, how do you handle male advances?
I know how to handle that very well. It doesn’t even disturb me at all. I was once a Sun Girl for the Saturday title. I woke up that morning to see so many missed calls from home and abroad. My male fans are the least of my problems.
Did you ever experience sexual harassment as a green horn?
I’ve always had females as my managers. However, I’ve worked with men mostly in the movie industry because I’m an actress as well. I am a very strong-willed person. If I find myself in that position, I will not succumb because I know what I have. You are not doing me a favour because I am giving out what I have; that is how I see it. If that doesn’t work out, better opportunities will come as long as you are not desperate and I am not a desperate person.
So what is your ideal man like?
My ideal man should be God fearing and smart. I like people who are highly intelligent. I like men who can teach me stuff because naturally, I learn very fast. My ideal man should also dress well, be clean, talk well and have charisma. I like them tall, dark and handsome
Where do you see yourself five years?
Five years from now I see myself as a mother and a role model. My ideal age for marriage is 26.