Beyond being beautiful, graceful and possessing queenly qualities, current Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria,Anna Banner, has the addictive and charming ‘girl next door’ personality. This was more than obvious as NET sat with her to get to know her.
In this interview, she talks about her pageantry experience, future aspirations and relationship status.
How did you get into pageantry?
I was persuaded/advised by a friend to go into the pageant. He thought I had the quality and that I could do well. I procrastinated for about a week before I eventually got the form.
On getting into the camp and being surrounded by other beautiful girls, did you ever envisage winning the MBGN?
I was intimidated at first. I felt the other girls I met there had better qualities than I did, and I felt they were more beautiful than I was, so, I was very intimidated. I felt I wasn’t even going to scale through the first audition. It occurred to me that I could win a week before the pageant, because I realised that no matter how beautiful and intelligent you are, winning would take the grace of God, and I had that grace of God covering me.
Also, I realised that I had a queenly quality, which is about the personality, and that was an advantage for me.
Can you describe the sensation you felt when you won?
I was extremely blank and still when they called Bayelsa, till I realised that I had won. I was very happy and excited. It is
a moment of my life that I can never forget about. It is one of the happiest and most memorable moments of my life. It is a moment to remember — a moment of victory, of hard-work turning into success.
In your opinion, do you think you deserved to win?
Everyone deserves to win but I think I deserved to win because I had striking qualities and all, but I would say that we are all winners. The judging starts from the first day you get into camp, so they judge every single step you take. And from the first day I got there, I just wanted to be myself because you can’t be fake for a long time. So, being real and the grace of God helped me win.
You once said that your father was initially skeptical about the whole thing. Has he come around?
You know most of our parents have this mindset about pageantry, where they feel if you want to win, you will have to do some dirty things like sleeping with someone to get the crown. So, I and my mom had to sit down with him and convince him before he could agree. And he trusts me and knows that I always keep to my word. But, lo and behold, nothing like that happened. The officials were not even giving us face; some of them were very strict. So, I didn’t have to do anything to please anybody or win anyone’s heart.
Since becoming the MBGN, what major differences has there been in your life?
Most things have changed, although I’m still myself. Some of the things that are different is that people now tend to treat me differently, in a special way; also the spotlight is always on me at events; I also get messages from young girls saying I inspire them.
How was the ‘Miss World’ experience?
Miss World was fantastic, awesome and off the hook, and also annoying especially because it was a coming together of girls of different races and orientations, and everyone had different behaviours that could be annoying and hard to relate with. But I was able to relate more with contestants from Indonesia, India, Guam, Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, Ghana, Zambia and South Sudan.
I was friends with those people and we really had a blast. We didn’t really see it as a
competition but as a fun experience.
What would you attribute to your failure to at least make the top 10 list at the pageant?
I don’t know what exactly, but I know I did my best. Another thing that might have contributed was that before Miss World, I was sick, so I didn’t really have much time to prepare. I fell ill around the middle of August and Miss World was September 3rd. I was down with Malaria, and was in the hospital for like five days. After I came out of the hospital, I had to rest for a further one week, so I had little time to get the things I needed for the pageant. You are expected to bring traditional costumes, flag, historic books and so many requirements that I needed to take, but my illness prevented me from going fully prepared. But I thank God for everything.
You were given a role as the Special Assistant on Culture and Tourism by the Bayelsa State governor. What does the position entail?
It entails me giving the governor good advice on culture and tourism. The governor has a lot of Special advisers and once in a while, I tell him what I feel from my perspective.
It is customary for every beauty queen to have a pet-project/cause, what is (are) yours?
I don’t have a foundation yet, but my pet-project is on Health and Education. The foundation is going to help with scholarships for those who want formal education and skills acquisition for people that do not want to go to school or cannot afford to go. On health, I am focusing on cancer, especially breast cancer.
Your reign is fast winding to an end, what else would you want to accomplish before July 2014?
I’m trying to open a clothing line and also trying to create my foundation.
You once said you’d love to go into journalism, is that something you’ll be venturing into after your reign?
Journalism has been my dream career ever since I was little. I have a passion for journalism. I want to be like Amanpour and work in CNN. That’s my biggest aspiration. And that is what I will be studying in Middlesex University, Dubai.
What else do you intend to venture into after the expiration of your tenure as MBGN?
I’m going to start school in September; so definitely, I have some time to do other projects before going to school.
You recently posted a picture of a Diamond/sapphire ring. What’s the story behind that?
It was like 3-days before Valentine. And it was given to me by a friend of mine, who is like my godfather, an elderly white man. I was actually given two rings, a sapphire/diamond ring and gold/diamond. He gave me that because my birthday was around the corner and Valentine as well, and he wasn’t going to be around on those two occasions. I was very excited because that was my first diamond ring. He even gave me the certificate for the rings. So, right there, in his house, I posted it on Instagram. But I didn’t add anything like ‘my boo gave it to me’.
What are the rings worth?
The Diamond/sapphire is 26karat while the diamond/gold is 36karat.
After winning the contest last year, you said you were all about your career, and not interested in a relationship. That has obviously changed. Who’s the lucky guy?
No, it hasn’t changed. The guy who gave me the ring is just a friend. He is not my boyfriend. There is nothing between us.
You are single and you plan to remain single?
Why should I plan to remain single? I am single for now but I don’t plan to remain single. When I have a boyfriend, everybody will know.
What would you want your 1-year reign to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as the Queen that sticks to her word, as a humble person who’s respectful, sincere and grateful. I also want to be remembered as a Queen that doesn’t give up easily, as someone who gives her best in whatever she does.
Who are your role models in the beauty world and beyond?
In the beauty world, I would say Tyra Banks, and in general I would say ‘Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia.
Besides being beautiful, do you have any special talent?
I write a lot. I write poetry, articles, and factual stories. I also like singing but I can’t sing very much. I’m also good at acting.