Interview

December 26, 2022

I grew up in Mushin, did menial jobs for survival – Mr. Nigeria, Ajewole Emmanuel Odunayo

I grew up in Mushin, did menial jobs for survival – Mr. Nigeria, Ajewole Emmanuel Odunayo

Ajewole Emmanuel Odunayo, fondly called Emray Chilling is current Mr. Nigerian International, the graduate of Insurance at the prestigious University of Lagos, is an award winning fashion, model and Event Entrepreneur. The Ondo State born who is committed to making social impacts, targeted at the youths in his community, Mr. Nigeria International has proven this by carrying out several pet projects under his NGO, Make-A-Difference (M.A.D) initiative to help young people become more valuable to the society and the country at large. He has leveraged his platform as a public figure to meet notable personalities, who have also committed themselves to support. The 2nd runner-up of Miss. & Mr. Ultra-Continental in Ecuador 2022, talks to Vanguard.

Kindly let us into your world?
I am Ajewole Emmanuel Odunayo a graduate of Insurance from the prestigious University of Lagos (Unilag) I am an Event planner, Fashion Entrepreneur, Model before emerging Mr. Nigeria International 2021/2022.

My childhood was like every other Nigerian child born to a family of 5 Dad, Mum and 2 older siblings. I hail from Ondo state (Akure) I lived with my grandma fondly called (IyaEleko) in Akure for about 4 years where i went to St. Anthony primary school situated in Araromi street opposite seminary school, I was unable to complete my primary school education in Akure due to challenges life thrown at a young boy who lost his Mom at the age of 2, I relocated to Lagos with my Uncle (Engr. Johnson S. Ajewole) where I was able to complete my primary school education at Ilasamaja road primary school in Mushin has God will have it, I was made the Senior Boy (Head prefect ) of my set, then further my secondary school education at Community Senior Secondary school (Works Yard) in Mushin.

How do you feel emerging Mr. Nigeria International?
It was a dream comes through for me, the level of attention and recognition that I have been receiving since emerging “The King” is overwhelming and this title has granted me audience amongst distinguished member of the society, invitations to top various officials’ meetings in the country also networking and contact expansion with highly influential individuals.

Being is this position has also meant carrying myself with poise and class wherever I go making sure that myself and Brand (Brendan and Crusader) are well represented and meaningful connections are made with highly influential persons.

Above all hard work pay off at the end why did I say this, I was determined from the very first day I registered for the contest to leave no stone unturned in achieving my desire goals, the road to achieving this high was tough and rough but against all odds I remain committed and never lose focus and here I am today filled with Joy and happiness for not quitting when it seem impossible.

Did you ever imagine yourself winning?
Yes, I do. I am not trying to be arrogant with my straight answer to this question but it’s a show of confidence and self believe.

One of the coordinators ask me during camping that who do I think will win this pageant without wasting much time I gave a straight answer “Me” he was shocked and asked why?

I told him that I understand my craft, I am uniquely made, and I am confident and possess all what it takes to be the good leader and a winner.

How was it dealing with other contestants?
Hmmm! those guys are awesome and talented, despite my self-confidence and believe I still have doubts within me during the camping period, because every shortlisted contestant who made it to the finals has a peculiar and unique talent so you have to be extra ordinary to stand out of so many talents.

I did not see them as a contestant, I saw them as motivators and inspiration to my goals, we bounded very well in camp, we built a family till date we have a WhatsApp group that we discuss and collaborates on individual project. In them I found a new family.

What significant role would you say the office played in your life?
One of the significant roles has been high level of creativity and drive to find solution and provide help in my own little way, the office has thought me to be modest in all what I do, I know so well from the beginning the weight the office carries and because I have had some experience in leadership role in the past, I have to be a good ambassador and a role model to the youths and the country at large.

What has changed about you since you won Mr. Nigeria International?
A whole lot has really changed; I approach new situations with an open mind and don’t put limits on myself. Vince Lombardi says “We would ACCOMPLISH many more things if we did not think of them as IMPOSSIBLE.”

I have upped my humanity service putting put people before me because it a call to serve, my focus and energy are on places where I make impact so that I can effect change and growth. My perception of success totally changed, I realize that someone else’s success doesn’t make them less likely to succeed there is no substitute for hard work; I have to keep working till my desire for humanity comes to reality.

2022 is wrapping off – How would you describe the year, and what should your fans expect to see in the coming year?
2022 has been a year I will not forget in a hurry, I had high and low moment but I am grateful for it all, I have met people who supported me and my projects also lost people whom I believe and cherish so much, friends turned enemy and strangers became true family.

I won Eko Heritage Awards (Pageant King of the Year) and Icon noble awards (Outstanding Beauty King of the Year) amongst other nominations from the pageant Industry. 2023 I am fully ready; I will be putting in the required energy to always achieve top-notch results in al ramifications humanitarian acts, community development projects and in my private business.

What do you think were the qualities the judge looked out for or saw in you that made them crowned you winner?
My self-confidence, my selfless act, my leadership skill, Charisma, Team player and ability to unlearn and relearn new things, during the camping process I was tenacious and always ready to make things work.

How did you do it, I mean been able to carry such a huge and prestigious office all through your reign without a single controversy?
With God all things are possible, the basic guide for me was understanding human behaviors pattern, like I said earlier I have been able to handle some leadership roles in the past, in my earlier stages in life, from been a senor boy in primary school, to a class captain in secondary school, to a social director in my tertiary institution also a platoon leader during my NYSC service, all this put together has shape me to be able to understand how to differentiate between official and social life.

We understand been in the spotlight comes with a lot of demands, especially attraction and distraction, especially from the opposite gender – how do you handle your female fans?
Smiling I always get this question and its funny to me because it’s normal to get attractions from the opposite gender and fans, it’s now left to individual to use diplomacy in this regard.

I have got for myself a rear gem, a jewel of inestimable value, my sweet melanin popping who I called Ice-lolly, someone who I know completes me, who understand me, accepted me and my flaws and always pray for me having such person with me shows that I am blessed and I am not ready to jeopardize it or hold it with levity, so my affections and emotions are been shared with just her, no room or space for distractions from any other admirers having knowing this I choose to draw the line between myself and the opposite gender for my sanity and peace of mind.

What advice do you have for the youth who are looking up to you in the society?
Hmmm! talk is cheap but actions are priceless, Naeem Callaway says (Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step) this was part of the motivation tools that pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I let go of my fears and took a step that basically has led me to my dream. Please forget the nah Sayers, rejuvenate your self-confidence and keep trying till you find a break through, Vince Lombardi says “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” so keep thriving in your craft it will surely pay off.