By Tony Ogaga
It is one thing to win a beauty pageant, but another issue winning two pageants and becoming a two-time-queen. That is the story of 20-year-old Oluwapelunmi Babajide, a graduate of Mass Communication, Oduduwa University, Ile Ife, Osun State.
In 2019, Pelumi emerged Miss Southwest Nigeria and now she is Miss Red Carpet Queen Nigeria. She beat 12 other contestants to emerge winner at this years edition of the pageant.
The new queen recently paid a courtesy visit to the The Sun Newspapers Ikeja City Office, Lagos. She opened up on growing up, pageantry and plans for the future. Enjoy it.
Welcome to The Sun. How are you doing?
I am fine and thank you for welcoming me to The Sun newspapers office.
How did you know about Miss Red Carpet pageant and how did you feel the moment you were announced the winner?
I was ecstatic; it was overwhelming! I felt really great. It was like a shock because I wasn’t really expecting it. Let me put it that way. Pageantry is always a surprise; it’s hard to know the winner. And besides, there were lots of pretty and smarter girls in the house. However, I wasn’t intimidated. I did not shed tears of joy, but I was shocked and dumbfounded! It was like the world stood still for me and I was seeing everything in slow motion, and then I broke out in a frenetic dance. I got to know about Miss Red Carpet Queen on their (social media) page last year. I wanted to register for the first edition, but I said no, the time was not right. So, this year, I decided it was about time and here I am today. We were in camp for two weeks. It was a great experience for me.
Tell us about growing up, were you born with a silver spoon?
Yes and no. I am actually from a polygamous home. You know what it is like – I like this one, you don’t like that one. This one is better and that one is not good. Dad had three wives and four kids. It was a war front, but my mum was not fighting anybody. It is complicated though. I was the only child for my dad from my mum.
Has it always been your dream to be a beauty queen?
Yes of course. Obviously, I loved watching TV and admiring beauty queens while I was a kid. And those days, I always told myself, ‘Pelumi, you would soon get there. I looked up to Nona Sharwa and Chidinma Aaron. And by the way, this is not my first time of going into pageantry. Actually, I was Miss Southwest Nigeria and so, I am two times a queen.
Really, what does it feel like being a two-time queen?
Nothing special (laughter). However, people are like, ‘you won your first pageant and now you are winning a second one, what is this girl doing That was my fear initially, but it was straightforward. I feel great. I think the secret to my success is prayer and research.
Which of your parents did you take your looks from?
My dad; he is tall and handsome.
Did anybody try to discourage you when you started going for beauty pageants?
For my first pageant, I did not experience such thing. My mum and family pushed me. But this second one, I discouraged myself. I had issues with voting online, but then I had friends who insisted I had to give it a shot no matter what. They were like just go for it and have fun’. However, dad is not really down with the modeling thing, so I didn’t tell him. I later hinted him and then my mum updated him. He is scared for me that I will be victimized as his only girl, because of the impression that models are prostitutes. But I am trying hard to convince him that it’s not what he thinks.
As a two-time queen, how has beauty pageantry impacted on you?
Beauty pageantry has opened doors for me. I have met lots of big people and I have learnt a lot. My year as Miss Southwest Nigeria was very exciting!
Beyond being Miss Red Carpet, what are your plans?
I have just one more pageantry to go for and that is MBGN; that is where I have my eyes, and that is because it is a platform that takes you to the world.
There is a high incidence of rape in our society. Have you ever had any experience about rape?
I had a close encounter with a victim of rape when I did my pet project for Miss Southwest. It was at a school in Ibadan, Oyo State. The rape issue was so sensitive so I said, if you know you cannot talk, write down your thoughts on a sheet of paper. I read different stories about rape and it was horrendous. Most of the stories revolved around commercial motorcyclists (okada men) harassing and raping them. For some, it was their father, but their mother did not believe it. And that is why I thank God for this platform. So, I am going to focus on secondary school students because they are naive and need guidance. It is wrong to think that what you wear is what makes men rape you.
Some people believe the modeling industry is a recruiting ground for prostitutes, gays and lesbians; have you had any encounter with such people?
In Nigeria, I dont think those impressions can be corrected. No matter what you say, people will always say models are prostitutes, but that is a wrong impression. And also, I have not encountered lesbians and gays. Maybe, I have not got to that stage yet.
Whats the greatest decision you ever took in your life?
That is participating in Red Carpet Queen pageantry and winning.
Tell us about the guy in your life?
There is no guy in my life for now because I am pursing my career. At this stage of my life, you don’t expect me to focus on a man. I should be building my career and when I arrive, a suitable man will find me.
But dont you think they might be intimidated by your success?
That would be the thinking of men that are not successful.
Could you describe your ideal man?
He has to be successful and a go-getter.
So you cant date a poor man?
No, not at all because I am not broke.
How about a broke guy meets a broke girl, they fall in love, work together and then become successful, and the story ends so beautifully. Dont you want something like that?
No, like you said, a broke guy and broke girl, but I am not broke (laughter).
What are your dreams?
In the next five years, I will be doing great things in the industry. I am also eyeing Nollywood. I also intend to go to a modeling school abroad. I equally want to become a successful model and work with aspiring models in order to enlighten them. Most young people believe that once you get into modeling, ‘boom, you are made’ but it is not like that. So, I want to guide them.