Yenagoa—Everyone with a career has a dream to excel and reach the summit of that profession. Accordingly, the drive to succeed in one’s career is spurred by different reasons in different people.
For some, career success is a must because they want to change their family story of poverty and penury. Some simply want the fame and plush life that comes with a successful career while others want to just succeed at what they do.
But for Queen Okutabo Sabrina Okolai: the current Miss Bayelsa, her reasons to succeed in her beauty pageantry and modelling profession was somewhat odd.
She said what made her hungry for success in her profession was to prove a doubter wrong who had questioned her ability to “fit in into the pageantry world.”
In an exclusive chat with Mangrovepen.ng, Queen Okutabo disclosed that modelling/pageantry was not her first love but later took interest in it.
“Firstly, I didn’t have it in mind to be a beauty pageant model. Modelling wasn’t my thing because I was more of a sports person but somehow along the line, I took interest in it (pageantry) and what inspired me to go all out at modelling was what someone said about me.
“The person questioned my ability to succeed at the pageantry modelling. The person asked what makes me feel I will fit into the pageantry world. This was because I used to dress in shorts and masculine clothes.”
“So I took it upon myself to succeed at all costs in modelling because I didn’t want to become an odd character or person.
“And I wanted to prove the point that I can fit into both worlds of sports and pageantry. I took it as a challenge because I love challenges,” she said.
Queen Okutabo, 24, who grew up with her grandmother in Okpoama, Brass in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State contemplated trying out pageantry in 2019.
In her first beauty pageantry show in 2020, she emerged victorious, becoming the Queen of Nembe Se that Year.
While reigning as the Queen of Nembe Se, she applied to contest the Miss Bayelsa pageantry show the following year and emerged as the winner.
Within two years, Okutabo had become the face of pageantry modelling in Bayelsa state by virtue of her instant successes in two of the major pageant shows in the state, and on a career path that she had not always thought of taking.
According to her, “The exciting thing about being a beauty queen is that you’ll have the opportunity to meet people higher than you whom you can learn from.
“You meet new people, which opens windows of opportunities. And of course fame, depending on the level you operate.
“On the downside, you will have to sacrifice a lot of time, effort, and energy to humanitarian causes. This is a good thing but you will hardly have time for yourself; that’s the disadvantage.
“Aside from that, not every event you will attend because your life is practically being managed by other people. You will be required to be on a diet so eating what you like or indiscriminately is prohibited.
“Again, there is this stigma that comes with being a model just like being an actress in Nigeria: which is that models are loose persons, so that is a big challenge. It’s quite challenging and hard.”
Queen Okutabo having graduated from the Department of Theatre Arts at the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, is also a thespian, a runway model, content creator, and creative writer.
The multi-talented Bayelsa beauty queen however said she wants to be a soldier when asked about her plans for the future.
According to her, it has always been her dream to join the army, a dream which was borne out of her love for force uniforms.
“In the future, I am open to anything not just restricted to beauty pageantry and acting. Anywhere I find myself I will adapt and give my best but the dream I’ve always had is to be a soldier.
“Since at a tender age, I’ve always loved (army)uniforms. So I would love to see myself one day in one.”
She however added that her immediate plans after she had handed over her crown to the would-be Bayelsa Queen 2022 is to partake in the mandatory National Youth Service (NYSC) and afterward contest in more pageantry shows.
Queen Okutabo also speaking on the lingering ASUU strike said being an ex-student was devastating for her during her time whenever ASUU was on one of its numerous strikes.
She further urged both the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government to reach a solution soonest so that students can return to school.
She said, “I feel terrible about the strike because I was once a student and I know how it was devastating for me back then.
“So I urge both parties involved: ASUU and the federal government to disagree to agree. They should find a common ground and resolve their misunderstanding and ensure schools resume soonest.”
Advice for young models and people looking to go into modeling
Queen Okutabo advising prospective young models said what is required to make it in the industry is firstly love for the occupation and then dedication, hard work and passion.
She said modelling is not always a lucrative venture, especially in the beginning and it is also costly to sponsor.
In her words: “I would advise that pageantry modelling and maybe other forms of modelling are not that profitable, especially from the start.
“Before you probably make it big in the industry and to the height you want to be you have to be patient, dedicated, persistent and show an incredible level of passion and hard work.
“It takes time, energy, and strategic planning to become a successful model. Don’t go into it because people are doing it but be resolved within yourself before you take the step.
“I must also add that beauty pageantry modeling is expensive and requires a lot of funding because you are oftentimes required not to repeat clothes to public functions so you need money to get clothes and other material things.”
Also commenting on the prevalence of internet fraud and prostitution among young people in the country and particularly in Bayelsa State, she said:
“Life is hard but young people in Nigeria must learn to earn a living through legitimate and acceptable means.
“We must as young people jettison these ill ways of making money to embrace hard work and genuine ways of living like learning skills to survive with them.”