On the 20th of July 2013, during a night of glamour inside the Banquet Hall of the Bayelsa State Government House, preparedness met with good fortune and turned around the life of 18-year-old Anna Ebiere Banner, a secondary school graduate was crowned the 2013 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN), outshining 31 other beauties to win the most coveted crown.
Anna represented Bayelsa State and walked away with N1million cash prize, an investment package worth N500,000 from a finance company, a brand new car, Cartier luxury wristwatch from Polo Limited and access to represent Nigeria at the upcoming Miss World Beauty pageant holding in Indonesia on the 28th of September 2013.
Anna did not only walk away with all the mouth watering prizes, the Governor of Bayelsa State – Henry Seriake Dickson, announced that Anna will be his Special Adviser on Culture and Tourism and serve as the State’s Ambassador, as she is true indigene of Bayelsa State.
Just a week after winning the pageant, OnoBello.com caught up with Anna at a photo shoot session at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos. The beauty queen reveals to us that her schedule is hectic but she is managing and adapting to her new role. She shares moments leading to her crowning with and how her life has been transformed overnight since winning the most coveted MBGN.
OB: How did your parents react to it when you told them you were taking part in the MBGN pageant?
AB: From the scratch, my mum was okay with my participation in the pageant, it was my dad that was skeptical. He told me to be very careful because guys out there are wolves, so it took some convincing before he could bulge, I had to make him realize MBGN is a prestigious organization with their values intact and right now, I guess he is more than convinced.
OB: Coming into the competition and seeing the array of beautiful contestants like yourself all battling for the crown, did you think you stood a chance of winning?
AB: Well, in camp I must admit, I had a lot of competition and the stake was high but I had to psych myself up to the point that I began to believe in myself and that strengthened my confidence so that I was able to be at my best, with that said, I also had it at the back of my mind that MBGN isn’t a do or die affair so I put in my best and I was prepared for whatever came out of it.
OB: So how did you become a contestant in the MBGN pageant?
AB: Actually, I was encouraged by a friend to buy the form, I procrastinated but I eventually bought it.
OB: Tell us about the feeling you had when your name was mentioned as the winner
AB: At first, I didn’t believe it was me (laughs), I literally questioned myself in my mind asking myself if that was really my name but at the end of the day, I was very happy and overwhelmed …and I cried (laughs and makes funny face).
OB: You cried too, Isn’t that becoming ceremonial at the end of every pageant?
AB: Oh no! There are some tears you cry and you fake it but if it is something that means so much to you and has to do with your dream, I bet when you achieve that, you will feel it and it will get you all emotional.
OB: So how do you plan to spend your tenure as the queen?
AB: Whew! At the moment, I have a lot of work piled up for me but I trust God, Silverbird Group and Bayelsa State Government to help me. Also, I will begin work on my pet project which has to do with HIV/Aids campaign. I’m also looking into education both formal and informal.
OB: Have you participated in any pageant prior to the MBGN?
AB: No, not all, this is the first time I’m participating in any pageant.
OB: What legacy will you love to be remembered for, even after your reign as queen?
AB: I will love to be looked upon as a role model for young women out there. I will love to be seen as a lady of substance and courage because I didn’t expect to win but here we are, so I will love young girls to see me and believe in their dreams that they too can do anything they set their minds on.
OB: How has your life changed since winning the pageant?
AB: My life has changed a lot but my person has not changed at all, as a matter of fact, I still feel like the same person, I still feel like Anna. The only thing that has changed is that I’m more famous. I go out now and people are all over me trying to take pictures and the likes, apart from that, I’m still well grounded in my principles and values.
OB: You’ve had your hands full since winning, have you had any best or worst day yet, as queen?
AB: Everyday has its own drama, some days are good while some are stern, I won’t say I’ve had any bad day, just tedious due to the number of interviews, photoshoots, press conferences and all.
OB: So you have not had any day of rest since becoming queen?
AB: Nope, no fun right now except in the job.
OB: Since becoming queen, you must be meeting a whole lot of people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, tell us about some of the wonderful people you’ve met?
AB: Well, I’ve met a lot of people but mostly, they are the people around me, like the Silverbird crew and the ‘girls’ but I have not really had time to go out and mingle. I guess that will come with time.
OB: Give a word of encouragement to girls who would love to be like you in the near future
AB: Let me encourage girls out there by saying, have confidence in yourself and know that whatever it is you want to be in life, you can achieve it if you believe in God and in yourself. Be the very best you can be in life!
MBGN Finale Photo Credit
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