‘ANY GIRL WHO WANTS MY HUSBAND WILL HAVE TO TACKLE ME FIRST’
Joan Okorodudu is one of the society women who stand out at every occasion. Her presence is always noticed, especially as she was a beauty queen, 27 years ago.
Twenty seven years ago!
Yes, that was when pageantry was seen as a thing for prostitutes, when parents disowned daughters who dared defy them and enter the pageant, when neighbours gossip about ladies who participate. That was the time, Joan braved it all, went in for the Miss Nigeria pageant and came out tops.
Joan told Spectacles that her parents were, however, different from many others in their generation, because they supported her in her pursuit to become a beauty queen.
“My parents supported me. They were okay with it. My siblings too were okay with it. They were all happy with me when I won,” she recalled.
Fresh then from a university in the US, Joan came back home to undergo her youth service. Incidentally, the Miss Nigeria beauty pageant was about to hold, so she quickly picked up the form and went in for it.
She told Spectacles she knew she was beautiful, but she never thought her beauty could win her a crown.
Emerging a beauty queen was really not the reason she entered for the pageant. She had her eye on some other thing, which she shared with Spectacles.
“I wanted the car prize that was attached to the crown. It was enough incentive for me. I never had in mind to become a beauty queen. I remember on my graduation day, Opral Benson was there and when she saw me, she said, 'Girl, you should be a beauty queen'. I just came back to Nigeria for my youth services and the pageant was about to hold, so I went in for it. But I tell you, my eyes were solely on the car.”
Armed with that determination to be a car owner, and with her beauty and innate qualities, Joan headed to the runway. She was not disappointed. She came back home with the crown and the car.
The crown and the car did not make her change her life style. Joan told Spectacles that becoming a beauty queen did not get to her head. Rather, she was still the same down-to-earth person she was before the pageant. She said money never meant anything to her.
“I never allowed my position to get to my head. I never allowed money or fame to rule my head.”
As a beauty queen, men got attracted to her as bee gets attracted to honey. But she had a focus; she didn't let the attention she was getting from the opposite sex ruin her already laid out plans.
When other beauty queens would have used the opportunity of the fame their crown brought them to jump from one man to another, especially those with the fat pockets, Joan remained hooked to the love of her life, whom she actually met before she became a beauty queen.
“Just as I got back to Nigeria, I met my husband. He supported me to be in the pageant. We have been married for twenty five years now,” she said.
When the issue of her husband came up, Joan was literarily translated to another world. Her face lit up with smiles as she eulogised her husband.
“He is a great guy. I can give him my kidney anytime there is a need for it. He is the best thing that has happened to me. He is the best brother, husband and father ever. We dance together, we go on vacation together and he still takes me out.”
But men will always be men, Spectacles pointed out. Does she really trust her husband as far as fidelity goes? Spectacles asked.
Joan responded, “I tell you, my husband is the best. I don't have any problem with him. Though at times I feel he nags because he is so meticulous, I still love him. I tell you, I can marry him again and again.”
She was a beauty queen, but that does not alleviate the fact that she is no longer a sweet sixteen. So, does she fear that a young lady could rival her for her husband?
Joan adjusted her designer sunglasses and categorically told Spectacles, “ Just look at me, any girl or lady who wants to take my husband must have to contend with me first. Oh yes, she must deal with me first.”
Going down memory lane regarding her life as an undergraduate, Joan disclosed that she was a big – time model back in the States.
“I have had 30 years of modelling career. I did a lot of jobs when I was in the university, to the extent that I was amongst the top finalists in the Miss Black America contest in the US during that time.”
With her vast experience in modelling, it didn't come as a surprise that Joan has decided to come up with a modelling competition – Nigeria's Next Supermodel – as an avenue to expose Nigerian models to the international scene.
She said, “Our models should not be paid peanuts. I want to raise the standard of living of the Nigerian models, to afford them a befitting quality of life. I want to curb their ignorance and discourage their exposure to vulnerable situations.”
As a one-time model and beauty queen, Joan is sure a powerful dresser and she knows this. In fact, she is a fashion designer and she wears what suits her best.
“One thing with us in this country is that we always overdress, even when it is not necessary. I am not in for that at all. I am in for simplicity in everything I wear, even in my jewelries.”
Bustier and strapless gowns might be the rave of the moment, but not for Joan.
“I am not saying there is something wrong with wearing such. But you ought to have the body for you to wear those kind of dresses. I am a bit overweight so I cannot wear such,” she said.