Former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Sabina Umeh, is a bundle of talents. She is a singer, songwriter, dancer, choreographer, designer, model and actress. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the Theatre Arts graduate of University of Benin says beauty, regardless of cost, translates to being expensive, while being expensive does not always necessarily translate to beauty. Excerpts:
It was a beautiful experience. I am blessed with a very close-knit family and was raised in a happy home with plenty of love, music and laughter. My parents instilled in us a great sense of independence to make and trust our choices of career, spouses and so on, whilst being closely guided by them. We were also exposed to the greatest love of all, the love of God.
Like almost every child, and even some adults, my fantasy was to become a big star, in music especially, and then acting, modelling and so on. I am blessed with the good and rare fortune to claim my dreams, and hereby proclaim major glory to God for blessing me with the ability and capability to live in a reality that is my dream. I never took for granted the huge privilege of having and raising my beautiful children and still having the bountiful bonus of a fun career. Show business is my calling. Music is my ministry. My children are my life. The lesson here? Follow your dreams but always remember what really matters.
How being the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria influenced my life.
I was crowned the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, in 1990, a few days after obtaining my degree. I considered it a perfect platform to catapult me from anonymity to popularity and therefore, a great springboard for my show business career. I’m thankful that it worked out. I do not imagine that anyone is self-absorbed or delusional enough to think she is the most beautiful girl in Nigeria, in Lagos, or even on her street, because as it is rightfully said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Mr Okonkwo will tell you that Mrs Okonkwo is the most beautiful ‘girl’ on the planet, so there you go. The crown for me was a blessing, a means to an end. My real legacy is defined by what I went on to become as a result of the special privileges the crown afforded me.
Modelling has always been a lot of fun for me. It has never been a do-or-die affair as it is something I kind of fell into as a beauty queen who also happened to be a theatre artist, so, it pretty much came with the territory.
Personal philosophy of life.
I believe that it is important to stay childlike and train one’s mind to appreciate the simple things in life like breathing and laughter. Also to appreciate the constant things like family and good health. Think about it, for great things to happen to us, the simple things must already be in place. Besides, when we take time to appreciate and enjoy the simple, constant things, we will find out that we are surrounded with reasons to be happy. Happiness blossoms into joy and joy in turn breeds love. Love of life, love of people and love of God. My other philosophy is to always be myself, thereby effortlessly remaining unique because there is only one me. I must first of all be the best ‘Sabina’ I can be, before I can be a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend or role model for anyone else.
Combining the home front with my career.
I strive to create a healthy balance guided by a clear knowledge of what my priorities are. Number one is family. Everything else is a very distant second.
On my musical career.
That was my childhood fantasy, remember? With my show business career, music is my first love. For me, music encompasses all that is theatre. I am an actor when I sing my lyrics or lines. I am a model when I’m wearing my costumes. I am a dancer when I perform and I am a singer when I sing, so with music I’m everything. I just released a promotional CD/EP, which is a preview of the soon-to-be released ‘Warrior’ album which is set to hit the international market in the first quarter of 2013, with an international tour kicking off in Nigeria. I titled it ‘WARRIOR’, because life is a journey of constant battles. Some we win. Others we lose. It is a cyclic dance of overcoming challenges and celebrating victories. The album ‘WARRIOR’, speaks about love and ‘war’, with love overcoming all. To win life’s battles and ultimately the war, we must be warriors. ‘WARRIOR’ is about you and I. It is about that special person, who, at every turn, shows strength and resilience in times of high and low tides. It is the story of our lives. A testament to the ultimate warrior. The One and Only, the Alpha, the Omega, our very ‘Rock of ages’. Having lived and recorded for many years in the UK, the US and Nigeria, my brand of music, Afrogenic Pop, is an effortless fusion of all of the lives I have lived, the synthesis and complexion of my humanity. ‘WARRIOR’ celebrates the sanctity of life, the power and pain of love and fidelity. It captures the supremacy and the truth of self belief, emphasising our dreams, aspirations and idiosyncrasies. My music is cathartic, purgation of my very soul. I have learnt to stay grounded and true to my inner ‘angels’, strongly believing music must be didactic, relevant to my time and space.
Coping with male admirers.
I am warm and cool at the same time. Warm, because I am nice and polite to them. Cool, because it’s ‘cool’ to have them (laughs).
Definition of style.
Style is an external expression of one’s spirit and personality. I do not believe in trends. Style should be as diverse as there are people. If it looks good, feels right and is appropriate, it is my style.
I love huge bags and totes because I am always on the move and I like to carry all my ‘joy’ with me.
Best beauty advice I have ever received.
Drink lots of water. Water is the best and cheapest skin and health care ‘product’ ever.
What I will like to change about myself.
I don’t know about ‘change’. Flaws and imperfections form the blueprint of who we are. There are however, some things I’d like to improve about myself though. I strive to be a more generous person, to think more of others than myself. It is generally human nature to be selfish, but with the benefit of maturity and experience, it becomes a matter of choice.
Shopping for my fashion items.
I buy items regardless of brand names. An item does not have to be a “designer” item to be beautiful. Style is in knowing how to mix, match and create a look with whatever is affordable. Beauty, regardless of cost, translates to being expensive, however, being expensive does not always necessarily translate to beauty.
My main stylist is a gentleman named Kese Jabari Akamune of the House of Kese Jabari, you may have heard of him (laughs). I play a huge role in my image too because I have a very clear idea of who I am and how I want to be portrayed. I have worked with US based Closet Consults and Fiskani Wardrobe Consultants, who have styled the likes of Akon, Nelly and Chilli of TLC. I have also worked with various Nigerian designers through the years like Funmi Ajila of Regalia, Frank Oshodi, Mon Ami, Nobel and of course, my dear friend, the late Remi Lagos, a lady of absolute class. I look forward to working with many more Nigerian designers and stylists.
Keeping in shape.
Chasing after my four kids (laughs). Seriously though, I have always been on the slim side. I do work out a little bit, however, since the body is impacted more by what we put in, as in food, than what we put out, as in exercise, a healthy diet therefore, is paramount.
Secret of my youthful look.
The grace of God, without a doubt. It is owed to my genes really. I will only take one per cent of the credit for having a healthy, childlike, bubbly attitude to life. Life is beautiful!