The circumstances surrounding the birth of fast rising model and beauty queen, Kossy Okonkwo couldn’t stop her from attaining greatness.
To her, winning the maiden edition of Queen Varsity Afrika beauty contest and reality show was the beginning of good things to come, and a right step in her quest to becoming the next Miss World.
In this interview, the Yabatech undergraduate of Technology chronicles her journey to fame and fortune. Enjoy it.
What sparked your interest in modeling?
Whenever I’m asked this particular question, I just smile. My role model sparked my interest. A role model is someone you admire and look up to. My mom is my role model. She’s one woman who inspires me to be strong and focused in whatever I do. I just love the fact that in my growing up years till date, she has remained unshaken with whatever life throws at her. Her encouragement and advice have shaped me into the person I am today.
Being a model is really fun. When I was younger, I would put on different outfits, strike different poses and beg my aunt to snap me. I’ve actually wanted to do it because I believed I could and have all it takes. Though, when I turned 17, I started adding flesh, which discouraged me at some point. Later, I decided to try again, and this brought me to Queen Varsity Afrika reality show.
Tell us about Queen Varsity Afrika Beauty Plus Brain pageant and reality show in which you recently emerged winner.
Queen Varsity Afrika reality show is not just an ordinary show. For me, it was like a life school where you get to learn, unlearn and relearn. It’s very unique, first of its kind, modest, fun, educating, and there is no nudity. It’s a show that defines a true woman; a true woman is not just beautiful but must be intellectually inclined. Queen Varsity Afrika is focused on bringing out the best in a girl child and that’s very phenomenal.
You won the maiden edition of the pageant, how confident were you at the show?
I was just determined. Naturally, I’m very confident. If I have double mind about something, I don’t go for it. So, being confident is the key to being my real self. I was very confident throughout the show. I gave it my very best, and the rest is history.
Is this your first time of participating in beauty pageant and who encouraged you?
First and foremost, this is the first time I am participating in any form of beauty contest. So, when I found out about the contest, I was like, ‘let me give it a trial’. My interest was inspired because I have always wanted a platform to teach youths how to channel their passion into income. I believe this is a good one and I can take it up from there. I’m always confident in whatever I set my mind to do.
The competition is a screen affair and you eventually won. How do you feel with the victory and what’s the magic to that effect?
My joy knows no bounds. I feel really good and I see so much light ahead. The experience was interesting especially the initiative of learning a skill. The other contestants were all amazing and unique in their own way. But I guess this is fate taking its full course, and l will say I was favoured and blessed to be the winner. So, it’s just God that made it possible being a TV reality show and a contest for beauty and brain. My mom and her sisters believed so much in me and always supported my decisions. So also my best friend. I remember when I mentioned the competition to her, she encouraged me to go for it, and she was with me throughout the preparations.
How many of you contested and what’s your relationship with the finalists?
We were 17 girls that contested. I am very free, accommodating and usually optimistic. I had great relationship with the five finalists.
Being a youth ambassador, what impact do you intend to make in the life of youths?
As a youth ambassador, I would love to bring my vision to life. As a lady in technology, I found out that ladies don’t pay much attention to that sector. Not only that, majority of Nigerian youths don’t even have an idea of such an amazing field. Technology is the future and we, the youths, need to cue in. So, I want to make the impact of propagating technology in Nigeria, and in the whole of Africa.
Would you say beauty alone makes a woman?
Beauty alone doesn’t make a woman. But beauty and brains are a plus, which is what beauty pageants are trying to make the society see. Beauty is never enough, beauty fades and that’s why we need the plus. To make a good woman, wife, mother, daughter, entrepreneur, politician etc., the woman must be intellectually inclined! Queen Varsity Afrika looks forward to what lasts and not what fades.
Pageantry is usually filled with tales of immorality, what is your story?
Everyone has different views. For me, being immoral is a choice. It’s not the fault of pageantry; rather it’s the fault of over-ambitious people who would do anything to get what they want. I had a normal relationship with the organisers. I bonded well with them in my own way. The contest really contributed to my development, which includes self-discovery, discipline, education and health. It also has given me the opportunity to carry out my vision of propagating technology.
How much was the star prize?
The star prize was N1 million. I have been to several auditions like Miss Lagos, African Diva etc., and it didn’t work out. I love being on screen, and since I can neither sing nor dance, I chose the one I could do. The platform has opened me up to other contests like Miss World.
What are your challenges?
There are lots of great things about wearing the crown as the queen of tertiary institutions in Africa. That alone is a challenge. But it’s really the fulfilment you get from a job like this. And it is a job that comes with responsibility.
But it’s something that I really found fulfilling because I was able to work with so many cause groups.
What’s your kind of man?
My kind of man should be God fearing, tender and one who is emotionally stable.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I have a boyfriend. He contributed greatly because he gave me moral support. My boyfriend always says ‘you are a beauty and you must shine brighter’. My love life has been fun and educating. Though, it has experienced ups and downs, we have stuck together in a storm.
Could you please tell us a little about your background?
Kossy Okonkwo hails from Ogbaku in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State. I was born 22 years ago. My mum had me when she was just 18. My father rejected the pregnancy but mum refused to terminate it. As a single parent, my teenaged mum had to rely on her parents for my upbringing, and it was a bit difficult.
My mum later traveled to Lagos to complete her secondary school education as well as eke a living. My grand parents in the village raised me. My grand father died when I was 4-years-old and I had to stay with my grandma. Two cousins of mine later joined us after my grand father passed on.
When I completed my primary school, I moved to Lagos and stayed with my mom and her husband.
This became the hardest part of my life. And from the experience, I derived the motivation to become a better person. It was really hard because there was nobody to help my mom. She couldn’t further her studies because there was no money. However, mom was able to send me to school, and after secondary school, I had to forfeit the admission I gained in 2015 because mom couldn’t raise my school fees.
When Yabatech offered me provisional admission, my mom had to borrow money from a micro finance bank to pay my school fees. I had to start working part time to support myself. In 2017, I decided to do something different, so I took some professional courses, first on web development, then blog chain technology, and also digital marketing.