Over a decade ago, the world was held spellbound, watching the 2001 Miss World Pageant. Among the bevy of beautiful women was our representative, 21 year old Agbani Darego in a simple , green Frank Osodi dress with diamante trimming on the neckline. The night stood still when Agbani was frowned Miss World 2001. The first black woman to ever win the coveted title.
Our beautiful swan has now come of age. She is still looking every inch as radiant as she did during her reign and has added poise, maturity and elegance to her attributes over the years. She brigs style correspondent Ruky Salako up to date on her glamorous journey and career since 2001 and her plans for the nearest foreseeable future.
Tell us a little about your growing up.
I’m the sixth of eight children. I was born in Lagos but grew up in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I’m lucky to have a very close-knit family as they’re my support system. I haven’t always loved being one of the babies’ of the house, because everyone thinks they know what’s best for you but today I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful I have their experiences to draw from and their advice, support and love to keep me going.
You lost your mum at a very tender age; do you think this changed the person you would have been?
I can’t say if it changed who I am or not. I truly don’t know that. However, I do know I became quite independent at early age because I had to, that being said it also brought my family closer; we had to lean on each other and I’m certain she would be happy for that.
You were the first black African woman to be crowned Miss World, can you relive that exhilarating moment?
It was a wonderful moment, indescribable even. It’s a great honour to have that title bestowed on me, not just Miss World, which in itself is a feat but to be recognized as the first Black African woman to have the title! I’m forever thankful to God for that privilege.
When you emerged Miss World in 201, you promoted yourself as wanting to be a computer scientist as well as a top model, should we still expect a scientist?
I was studying Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Port Harcourt when I went in for MBGN and the Miss World, but I had to take time off to finish my reign. I have since gone on to study and graduate with a degree in Psychology from New York University, so I guess you could say I am a scientist after all
Did you get a lot of doors open for you in the modelling industry because of your title?
On the contrary, you have to work that much harder for people to see you as a model and not just a beauty queen. They are two very distinct industries.
What does it take for a model of colour, especially one of African descent, to make it in the cut-throat world of modelling in New York City?
Irrespective of colour, the modelling industry is a cut throat one like you said. You have to learn to be confident and not take things personal because for every yes that one gets, you probably had 5 no’s before that. And when you add the colour d=factor, it gets trickier.
During your reign, were you opportuned to come across anyone that made a deep impression on you?
I can’t limit the people that have made a deep impression in my life to my reign. I was fortunate to have met a number of interesting characters during that year but I continue to meet people that have made lasting impression on me and I appreciate everyone of them and the lessons I was and I’m able to take away from these encounters.
Do you still have to conduct yourself in a certain manner, even after almost a decade of your reign?
A lady should always conduct herself in a certain way, regardless of a title or not.
Who are the best people you have worked with in the fashion industry?
I’ve been fortunate to work with master photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Marcus Klinko, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Moussa and now TY Bello. And I must say being surrounded by these talents was an experience in itself.
More to come…….