By Josephine Agbonkhese
Alluring, brainy and eloquent are words that best describe Caroline Oresanya Yetunde, the University of Lagos Creative Arts final year student on whose head now sits the Sisi Oge Pride of Africa crown for 2015/2016.
In this interview, Yetunde who defeated 23 other contestants at the pageant’s 9th edition which held in Lagos recently, shares plans for her reign, her journey into beauty pageantry and as one who weirdly prefers to stay behind the camera in spite of her beauty, she reveals that her ambition is to be the world’s biggest creative director.
What do you suspect stood you out?
I think my sense of creativity did. We were at the camp for two weeks and while there, we were engaged in different activities like, cooking, and mind games, talent hunts and much more, and I think I had an edge over all others in all the activities. I came first in the story-telling competition. I was just being creative all along. I represented the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa but the costume I wore wasn’t what the usual descendant of Zulu will wear.
I wore just a bra and a beaded costume and then a hat. I was just creative with the costumes. I designed my costumes myself, drawing ideas from what we had done earlier in school. We always make costumes in my department at the University of Lagos. I didn’t have any special designer for this contest. My costumes were all self-made and borrowed.
Is this your first time in a pageant?
Yes, it is. But before now, I have been involved in various modelling jobs. So, this was really a new challenge for me.
What attracted you to the contest?
It is a different kind of pageant and unlike other pageants in Nigeria, this one promotes African culture, values and heritage. It takes you back to your roots and forces you to learn more about the African culture and traditions. And besides, unlike other pageants, which lack continuity, the Sisi Oge pageant has continually run for nine years now without ceasing.
How did such attract you when your peers are falling head over heels for everything western?
Parents who were rooted in the African values and tradition brought me up and my parents used to tell my siblings and I never to forget our roots. I am from Ogun State. This pageant helped me to study more about where I come from and about the culture and traditions of my people and even my language.
Now that you have been crowned Sisi Oge 2016, how do you hope to utilise the platform?
My aim is to positively affect lives and make people happy. To achieve that, I’m carrying out a research on the needs of the people around me. Once this is concluded, I should begin work on how to meet their needs.
Also, I intend to carry out economic empowerment programmes. Sisi Oge has a strong partnership with the Lagos State Government and I hope to partner the state government as well on my projects. Last yuletide, I worked with children with Down Syndrome, and I believe that is a good starting point for me.
Are your parents in support of you being in beauty pageantry?
My parents are always in support of what I do as long as I am doing it right and that it’s what also makes me happy. They always give their advice and give me moral support as long as they are sure I am doing what will make me happy.
At what age did you start modelling and what was the first job you did?
I started modelling at the age of 15. I have done a couple of adverts for products such as Lux and many clothing lines.
It is believed that crowns are usually given to people whom the organizers prefer. Would you say you deserved the crown?
The contest was 100% free and fair. I never knew anybody when I entered for it. I just bought the form and then went for the auditioning and a couple of days later, I got a message that I had been shortlisted for the next round of drilling and I kept qualifying for every stage.
The truth is, I actually never went there for the crown. Rather, being my first time in a pageant, I went there to gain experience and be a better person. Even when I looked around my fellow contestants, I felt I was nowhere near winning the crown because every other contestant was beautiful and extremely talented. I was amazed when I made it to the finals and got the crown.
What aspect of Creative Arts are you studying?
I am in the Theatre Arts section but I focus basically on directing because I love being behind the camera.
Why would a beauty queen prefer to stay behind cameras?
I have come to realize that being behind the camera has got a lot to do with the brains. And besides, I like calling the shots. Anybody can act but believe me, not everybody can direct.
But a lot of actors/actresses end up directing these days in Nigeria. How about that?
How many of them get it right or are on the edge? Directing involves a different kind of creativity, not just standing in front of the camera and imitating an action or a situation like most actors/ actresses. Here, you are responsible for every action in the movie or on stage. You are the only one that calls the shots and so it takes a lot of creativity, determination and hard work to be a good director.
My ambition in life is actually to be one of the best directors in Nigeria, Africa and even around the world. I am inspired by great directors like Tunde Kelani and Kunle Afolayan.
What was your prize and how do you feel about it?
As the winner of the face of Sisi Oge 2015/2016, I am a proud owner of a brand new car, some huge sum of money and other things.