By Chinasa Afigbo
On March 21, 2022, during the viral #Kukumachallenge on social media, Miss Lydia Okojie joined the trend with a detailed video of her background and tireless journey to stardom.
The video depicted her as the daughter of a mechanic father and a petty trader mother, raised in the interiors of Benin city.
She had financed herself through the university by hawking the popular ‘zobo’drink on the streets of Benin. But all those are bits of history as she is currently the MBGN Miss ECOWAS 2021 and has used her crown to advocate education for the street kids. Without being ashamed to share her small beginnings, she wrote on Instagram, “It took much courage to post and be a part of this challenge.
I hope you get inspired by watching me on my journey to becoming a beauty queen.” Her video set the internet agog with fondness as people found her story inspiring.
In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, Miss Lydia Okojie who’s the CEO of Lydia TV, a media setup that oversees event planning and red carpet hosting, recounts her grass to grace story.
My name is Lydia Okojie; I am from Esan North East-Uromi, Edo State. I hold a Bsc in Accounting Education. I grew up in Benin city. Growing up for me was tough because my siblings and I never had the best of our needs. But we created our fun to give life meaning.
Lydia is the incumbent MBGN Miss ECOWAS. She’s God-fearing and loves to keep a simple life. All my life I have always wanted to inspire people and I am glad to be doing that with my story.
Growing up in the neighbourhood with my petty trader mum and a mechanic dad
Looking back, my growing up inspired me to explore great opportunities, and I am grateful for what my parents were able to make out of my siblings and I with the little they earned in their jobs. Honestly, it wasn’t easy trying to soar above all that happened around us.
Hawking as a young beautiful girl
I decided to hawk to support my parents because that was our source of livelihood. It was through hawking that my mum was able to support my dad for the family’s needs. Being a young girl and the eldest child, hawking made me a laughing stock among most of my friends in school.
People didn’t want to associate with me because I was not among the happening babes in school then. I was teased all the time; some called me names because of how I looked.
I used to be very skinny back in school and wore the dresses my parents could afford. But I remained focused because of the home training my parents gave me. I didn’t want to disappoint them, knowing that they did their best for me.
How I perceived my dreams
God saw me through my hard work and resilience. Every day that passed, I gave myself to learning and becoming a better version of myself. This was how I was able to pull through.
Delving into modelling
I started modelling officially in 2016, after I won Miss Photogenic back then in Edo State. Consistency and dedication have brought me this far.
Challenges faced in my modelling career
I had a lot of funding issues because I had no sponsor, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I made sure I put in my best and I rehearsed almost every day until my skill was good enough to sell itself. I also did a lot of reading and research, and with God’s guidance, I was able to pull through.
Projects executed as Miss ECOWAS
I’m still the current Miss ECOWAS Nigeria. I’m a street child education advocate, projects I’ve executed and which I am still executing are giving back to my society through helping children who hawk on the streets after school to pay their school fees. I have donated stationeries to various schools in Lagos. I assisted secondary school students in different states to purchase JAMB forms. I have also rendered financial support to market women and petty traders in Lagos and Benin.
Three women who inspired me
My mom (Mrs Florence Okojie) is number one, followed by Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Message to every girl child
Life is a journey, each step takes you closer to your success. If you miss a step by cutting corners, it will take God’s grace to find yourself again. Give yourself to learning, believe you can, and trust God for the process. Do not give up for any reason, there’s always a light waiting at the end of the tunnel.
What it takes to be an entrepreneur
Creativity and good marketing skills bring about good entrepreneurship. Identify the audience that needs your brand and get your product out there through maximum publicity.
My modelling career has given me lots of memorable moments, starting from when I won the 2016 Miss VTE (Vocational and Technical Education). In 2017, I won the Miss Crystal Edo top model and Edo state Next Top model. Then in 2021, I won the MBGN Miss ECOWAS crown. All these platforms have allowed me to give back to society which has been my earnest desire.
Lessons learnt in life
To be my best me and stay strong no matter how difficult it gets because hard times don’t last forever.