By Iyabo Aina
Almost all beauty queens seem to have something in common- they are all very slim, but not Sharon Ifeoma Anya, the newly crowned Miss Tourism Nigeria World 2015. A Mass Communications graduate of Igbinedion University, Okada in Edo state, she is no doubt very beautiful but a little fleshy for what you might consider a conventional beauty queen.
She walked into our office penultimate Thursday in the company of her PR people, exuding confidence with regal air of a true queen. She has that lithe poise and walks with provocative delicateness that gets you thinking the floor she walks on is made of eggshell.
Clad in a red gown that hugs her body to reveal a curve that looks more of a movie star than a beauty queen and adorned with her crown and the tag ‘Miss Tourism world’, she calmly took us through the journey that saw her emerge as the face of tourism in Nigeria. To her, she would never forget the moment she was crowned queen.
“When they declared me as winner, the first thing I said was “Jesus.” And the good thing was that the microphone was not with me, if not, everybody would have heard me and probably laughed out loud.
I was really surprised because I wasn’t expecting it because I was the biggest in the pageant; I mean size-wise because I’m a plus size model, and it wasn’t like I was the prettiest in the camp. It was simply an act of God. So, I was taken by surprise, but I was happy as well. At the same time, I was very confident in myself because this is my third crown. In the beginning, I never thought I had a chance. I decided to go for it just to showcase my talent and myself to the world. But I kept faith with God and my hopes in the hand of people. So, I wasn’t really expecting this crown at all, but here I am, lucky and happy to have it,” she explained.
She might have a little shortcoming regarding her size, but Sharon is no stranger to pageants. Before winning the Miss Tourism World, she was in two other pageants before that and she had a crown and a third-runner-up medal to show for outings.
“The first one I went for was Miss Ebony, then I was really younger. I did that just to promote myself and to know what I am good at and what am not good at, so I will be able to work on myself. I was the first runner up of the pageant . Then when I got into University in 2008, in my hundred level, I contested for Miss Ebinejo University and I won and this is my third crown and it’s a big thing for me.”
Explaining the reason why her passion lies in pageants, and not in any other area of entertainment, she said, “Actually, there are different ways to showcase oneself and talents but to me, I feel pageantry is really something I can use to bring myself to the limelight. One other thing is that I don’t like being idle and so I engage in many activities either to get busy or promote myself. So, one day I said to myself that I should try my hands at pageantry. When I went for Miss Igbinedion University, I didn’t come out just for people to see me, I actually came out in order to represent my school in different occasions in Nigeria.”
So, how was it like in the camp? we asked her and wanted to know if there was any case of sexual harassment from any quarter, but in her usual calm disposition, the queen assured us there was nothing of such.
“No, there was nothing like sexual harassment from any male or female. Believe me, it was fun all the way. The officials and the girls were simply beautiful. No one took advantage of anyone. In fact I got to meet different girls and we practiced a lot. I love to dance, so I got to learn how to dance there and do different things. There was nothing like sexual harassment,” she reassured.
However, as fun as the camp was, she admitted it was no tea party as each contestant had to be on top of their game to win. “Of course, I met tougher contestants, because in life people are bound to encounter challenges, but it’s by the grace of God that we overcome them. So, while in camp I noticed that everybody wanted to win but then I didn’t let that get to me in any way. I just kept my head higher and kept doing what I understood,” she offered.
On what must have stood her out amongst other contestants, Sharon believes it must be something in her composure and her desire to always want to make whoever comes in contact with her happy. “ I will say the way I composed myself helped a lot. I brought myself in a way that I didn’t allow people to see me scared. I didn’t allow fear to overtake my talent, so I just brought myself down and I put on a very good attitude for people to love me. So I would just say that basically, my composure got me the crown.”
Her composure and confidence must have done a lot to help her but she also confessed that her mum’s belief in her was also key to her ‘can do’ attitude. That added fire to her passion. “Actually, my parents are so happy for me because they saw it coming and reason being that they believe in me so much. When I was in secondary school I used to partake in several cultural dances after which they would use my pictures for their calendars. One day my mum called me and said ‘you know you are going to be a star some day’ and here I am today and they are really so happy for me.” Her face twinkled with smiles.
Every beauty queen has a pet project they must undertake during their reign. For Sharon Anya, her pet project was designed to ignite her childhood passion, which is to become an actress. She knows beauty queens do not reign forever so she had her vision kid in glove with her mission for her reign.
“One of my mini-projects would be to act in a movie showcasing Nigeria’s tourist sites and I have actually done a couple of movies too. Presently, I am about setting up an NGO foundation and it’s going to be to promote culture and tourism in Nigeria among the youths. I am doing this because I want to keep the youths busy by helping them to bring out their talents. And I am still seeking government sponsorship which I think is really important. But aside that, I’ve done a pet project with Tecno mobile brand. We went to different public schools to share educational materials to them and though I just won I still have a lot on my table but that’s my major pet project now” she revealed
“Pageantry generally consists of different talents and pageantry itself is a world unto itself. And under it you can sing, dance, talk, it’s just about showcasing everything you can do with your body and brain.
The problem with girls is that they think pageantry is all about looking pretty, but it’s about giving people what you have and what you can offer,” she explains what pageantry really means to her and maintains there is nothing ugly or obscene about it.
“As a model you should be ready to show off your body. And you should put yourself in that situation that even though people look at you it doesn’t mean that you are showing them your nakedness. We are always covered and we don’t walk out naked. When people stare at us we are not thinking they are looking at our nakedness or exposed body but rather the beauty within and how it can be used to pursue the cause of human needs.”