Why I rejected Zenith Bank job for Miss West Africa Nigeria pageant – Sophie Ann Diete-0Spiff

By OPEOLUWANI OGUNJIMI

When twenty-four years old Sophie Ann Diete Spiff decided to stick her neck out for the Miss West Africa Nigeria crown, little did she realise she would come tops. The journey to stardom was rough, so also was securing a job as a graduate of  English and Literary Studies from Niger Delta University, a job which eventually came next day after she was crowned Miss West Africa Nigeria, 2013. Here are loads of Sophie’s experience. Excerpt:

What was growing up like for you?

Growing up was okay. It wasn’t difficult. I was born in Sokoto and grew up in Zaria. Later, my family relocated to the South when I was 17.

So, what kind of upbringing did you have?

My parents are God fearing people and they are disciplinarians. So, I had set rules I had to follow. There was no messing around at home.

While growing up, what were those things that prepared you for the ‘run away’ profession ?

Actually, there was none. It was something I had inside of me and I didn’t tell anyone about it

While growing up, what were those things that prepared you for the runway profession ?

Actually, there was none. It was something I had inside of me and I didn’t tell anyone about it

Why did you keep it a secret?

Although I had passion for the beauty world, I was scared because my parents wouldn’t allow me pursue my dream.  This is one aspect of my life I nurtured inside of me. I didn’t tell anybody about it until I was really grown. And even when I made my first attempt at beauty pageant, I kept it away  from my parents.

That was when and for which competition?

That was in 2008, Miss Intercontinental. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to camp till the D- day. That was when I opened up to my mum and she didn’t have a problem with it, neither did she blame me for keeping it to myself. She only wished I had told her earlier since it was my dream.

What happened at the Miss Intercontinental pageant?

*Sophie Ann Diete

*Sophie Ann Diete

It was okay. In fact, that was myfirst attempt and I made the top five. I was very happy because I contested alongside girls who were really good and there were plenty of us. So, making the top 5 was a big deal for me then.

Did you have any training before going in for the competition?

No, it was my first attempt. But when we got to the camp, we had trainers so I was able to pick up one or two things.

How did you get into the Miss West Africa competition?

A friend of mine told me about it and I decided to apply.Then I went online and saw that the competition was a huge one, and decided to give it a try. I applied and was invited for the audition.Thereafter,  I was selected for the one week camp. It was a beautiful experience, and what made it more beautiful was that I won the pageant at the end of the day.

What was the mindset you had when leaving for the camp?

I didn’t know I would win but I was optimistic. I have this belief that the moment you think you will lose then, you have lost. So, whenever I’m doing things with other people, I always place myself on top. I feel like I’m the best person there. So, I worked with such mindset.

What were those challenges you faced in the house?

Like I said, it’s something I do with a positive mind. Although, I met a lot of beautiful girls at the camp, I didn’t let that bring me down because I’ve been there a couple of times. Usually, when in camp, they look at a lot of things. You don’t just have to be beautiful. You have to be of a good moral standing too. Some girls just go to camp to have fun. Some go there for different reasons but I didn’t go there for that. I went there to win. So, I believe I was following the rules

At the point when they were about to announce the winner, what were you thinking?

They called the 2nd runner up and it wasn’t me. I just told myself that was a really good spot and it won’t be that bad if I came the 1st runner up. Although I wanted the crown, I still would be happy to be the 1st runner-up. I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind and the MC was wasting time announcing the winner. But when they eventually called the winner, it was me. I was so happy that I just stood there and started laughing. It was so beautiful.

Were your parents at the finals?

Nobody was there. I was there alone.

So, who was the first person you called?

Actually, they stayed up at home to watch the show but they couldn’t because I didn’t tell them which station aired it. And back stage, I gave my phone to someone to hold didn’t have time to reach them. They had stayed up for so long, and when they didn’t hear from me, they’d started dozing-off. Then, I called my father’s line with the phone belonging to one of the officials. He was so happy. He woke my mother up and everyone was all over the house.

What were you given as the winner?

I was given a brand new car, a Kia Rio 2012  model,  an annual salary, a wrist watch by Watch Locker, shoes, Macson Hair gave me a hair, then NK Klassic in Asaba make me beautiful outfits every months.

And the race for the Miss West Africa International started

Yes. The Miss West Africa Nigeria team had lots of people who had their hands on deck and I didn’t really have time to go home and rest for a long while because the international pageant was just a month away.   And since Dissy Lateral Entertainment is the company I work under now, they had to groom me.

And the D-day when you were to leave the country came

Yes, we left the country on the 17th of March, to Cape Verde Island.

So you saw other African beauties

Actually, before I left Nigeria, all I thought about was how beautiful other queens would look like. But when I got there and saw other girls, I felt better because I was sure my beauty could compete well alongside theirs.

As a graduate, are you looking forward to working after you might have dropped the crown?

I’m a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State. I don’t intend to look for any job after I drop my crown. Since I graduated in 2009 and went for my NYSC in 2010/2011, I’d searched for a job to no avail. I wrote several aptitude tests even in banks, but I was not lucky to secure a job.

Ironically, a day after I was crowned as Miss West Africa Nigeria, I got a call from Zenith Bank to resume work the next day.  It was so funny because I’d applied a long time ago and had waited for the job to come but it never did. When I received the call, I just told the caller,’Thank You’ and put a call across to my mum and we just laughed it off. I have a better job now because it’s something I love doing and I know I’m going to enjoy it.

So, now that you are back, what are you plans?

Not winning the international crown is not the end of the world. I still have lots of plan. I want to start working on a charity project called We Do Care Nigeria. It’s going to be a subsidiary of the main organization called We Do Care. It’s there in Cape Verde, headed by the former Miss West Africa International.

So I volunteered to be in charge of it here. It’s a package where we reach out to people who are less privileged, hungry, those who don’t have clothes to wear, and those who need help from the government. I intend to start soon but I still need to get funds from the governments in Nigeria.

I also intend to work with the old people’s homes and the physically challenged because I have passion for them too.

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