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Beauty beyond skin

GENERATION NEXT
By MAUREEN ODIWUOR | January 26th 2014
                                       Pauline Akwacha                 PHOTO: COURTESY

By MAUREEN ODIWUOR

Generation Next: Tell us about Miss Grand International 2013 Beauty Pageant?

Pauline Akwacha: Miss Grand International is a new beauty platform whose main sponsor is Singer Corporations. Miss Grand International 2013 held in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 19, last year, was its first edition.

At the end of the event, Miss Puerto Rico, Janelee Chaparro, was crowned winner out of 84 contenders drawn from 71 from countries in the world. I was Kenya’s representative.

GN: What criteria did they use to pick you as a representative?

PA: Miss Grand International has a Franchise Holder in every Country. In Kenya, the holder is Beauties of Africa Organisations’ Andy Abulime. I was picked through a nomination carried out under the exclusive agreement of Beauties of Africa Incorporated, based majorly on past modelling experiences such as television commercials, advertisements, and participation in various modelling shows.

GN: What do you think made you stand out?

PA: I had an edge having been a top ten finalists in Miss World Kenya 2012. I had also gotten a few tips from Miss World Kenya Academy, frequently consulted widely, and endured catwalk lessons from various choreographers. I have also featured in several adverts including the Kenya Airways Msafiri Golf Credit Card advert in October last year and Nakufeel Facebook and Twitter edition adverts.

GN: So this is not your first time in public limelight?

PA: No, it is just that I always try maintain a low profile. I feel being a celebrity is too heavy for my liking, preferring it does not take centre stage in my life. It is my opinion that it makes one lose focus.

GN: What are some of the challenges you encountered as a model?

PA: I went to the contest the same week my father was buried. My face was pathetic from mourning and I had stopped working out for sometime. I almost failed to go, but my family encouraged me not to quit.  The Nakufeel Facebook Edition advert also posed a challenge I remember. After being picked from more than 500 ladies who auditioned, I almost quit when I was told I would perform in undergarments. I only took part after the script was changed allowing a long skirt with a long slit.

GN: Did you aspire to become a model growing up?

PA: No. I never even imagined it. All this began in college when my friends urged me to give it a try.

GN: What was your experience like in Bangkok?

PA: It was wonderful. From the culture shows we attended, the visits to temples, great sites and even the elderly people. Not to forget was the language barrier. My escort had to activate a translator in her iPhone so that when I texted her she got the translation to understand.

GN: What will you be remembered for at Miss Grand International?

PA: I was known as the intelligent girl. After a one on one interview with the judges, they were amazed at African girls. In fact my intellectual capability pushed me to the top 20.

GN: What has changed since the contest?

PA: I now look at things differently. I have an international focus on life having interacted with some most beautiful women in the continent and great business personalities.

GN: What projects are you championing for?

PA: I want to bring a different approach to the modelling world and break the tendency where all models want to be fashion designers. I intend to start an empowerment project for upcoming models that will also encourage them to be career men and women. There, I can be a mentor brainwashing aspiring models with good ideas. My target is youth between 16-26 years interested in modelling. The main point I want to drive is that beauty and brains should go hand in hand. When a model falls on the runway, there should be a doctor model to assist.

GN: Talking of careers, are you studying?

PA: I graduated from Daystar University in June last year with a degree in Communication majoring in Public Relations and a minoring in Marketing.

GN: Give us a bit of your family background.

PA: My mother, Pauline Akwacha runs a popular hotel in Kisumu called The Hangover Hotel. It has a history dating back to the mid 1960s and was spearheaded by my late father, Wilson Akwacha who passed away recently due to heart failure. Ours is a big family of eight children including my stepfamily, and four nieces, and a nephew from my sisters. I pursued my Ordinary and Advanced Level of Education in Uganda at St Lawrence Citizens High School — Horizon Campus before joining Daystar University.

GN: What do you do for fun?

PA: Dancing to Lingala music is my main weakness ever since I was a small girl. I also enjoy watching documentaries, swimming and reading.

GN: Future plans?

PA: I want to follow in my parents’ footsteps and be a world-renowned hotelier.

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