Lagos bread hawker-turned- international model, Olajumoke Orisaguna, shares her grass-to-grace story with TOFARATI IGE
What are your childhood experiences?
I remember mostly the birthdays and the Christmas periods. My mother made an effort to make them memorable for the family in her own way with the little that she had. It was fun growing up with my family even though we struggled as well. I also remember there were times we had to go hungry. However, I thank God for where I am now.
What were your childhood ambitions?
Growing up as a child, I wanted to get married early so that I could help my mother. I also fancied being an actress even though it seemed way out of my reach. Several times, I would imagine myself on TV screens.
What were your expectations when you initially moved to Lagos?
The plan for moving to Lagos was to work hard and take care of my children and also assist my family back home in Osun State. I had heard people describe Lagos as a land of opportunities, so I moved to Lagos in search of greener pastures for my family.
On the morning of the day you photobombed Tinie Tempah’s photo shoot, what were your original plans for that day?
My plan, as usual for the day, was to go out and sell all my bread and probably restock to sell some more.
Can you take us through what actually happened from the moment you walked into the photo session to the point where the picture became popular?
I was going about my business selling bread when I walked past the photo shoot and went my way; I didn’t regard it as anything extraordinary. Days later, as I was hawking on the street, I heard someone call out omo oni buredi (bread seller). I turned around quickly, hoping it was a customer who wanted to buy bread. The man who called me then told me that a woman had been looking for me and he directed me to TY Bello’s office. As I approached the office, millions of thoughts rushed through my mind because I wasn’t sure why a woman I didn’t know could be looking for me. A part of me was scared and another part of me hoped she would buy all my bread. I got to her office and she was so excited to see me. She told me she had been searching for me even as she gave me food and told me to feel at home. She spoke with me in my mother tongue and that put me at ease. She asked if I didn’t mind if she took pictures of me. I didn’t know why she wanted a picture of me but I told her she could. She then said I should discuss with my husband that she would like to help me build a career as a model. My husband was sceptical at first as he was concerned about my safety but he later gave his consent. She had my shoot for ThisDay Style magazine and that was how the journey began.
What was your reaction when you were first told to pose for pictures?
It was strange for me at first because I hardly took pictures before that time and I could not really understand the big deal about taking pictures.
Had people always been telling you before that you are photogenic?
I was not in many pictures before I met TY Bello, so I didn’t get many comments about being photogenic or not.
Do you still interact with your colleagues at the bakery?
Yes, I do so occasionally. We were friends back then and that has not changed. The difference now is that my new life comes with a lot of responsibilities and hard work necessary to build my career, so I don’t have a lot of time on my hands.
Can you tell us about all the brand ambassador deals you have?
I have a brand ambassador deal with Payporte as their 1k Store brand ambassador. I’m a brand ambassador for Shirley’s Confectioneries, and I have brand affiliation with Stanbic IBTC.
In what ways has Sujimoto assisted you?
Sujimoto gave me the house where my family lives now. He has been very supportive of me.
Sujimoto has been like a father to me. His impact on my life has been huge. He has been there to guide me and advise me. He is very approachable and he always creates time to give me audience despite his busy schedule.
Did you ever imagine that you would live this kind of life?
I never imagined I would live this kind of life at all. I mean, as a child, you could daydream once in a while but I never knew it will come to reality one day.
What talents and skills do you have?
I’m very good at acting and modelling is now part of me as well.
If you are to establish a company, what kind of business will you like to invest in?
Truthfully, I think I’ll go into confectioneries.
How well have your kids adjusted to your new life?
My kids have had no problem adjusting to this new life. In fact, they enjoy it.
Is Stanbic IBTC still paying your children’s school fees?
Yes, they are.
How has your fame impacted on your relationship with your husband?
My relationship with my husband has not changed; the fame has had nothing to do with my relationship with my husband. However, we have both had to make adjustments. Like every other relationship, we have our normal differences from time to time.
What job does your husband do now?
My husband’s life is private. He isn’t the one in the limelight.
What’s the most memorable thing that has happened to you since you became famous?
The scholarship given to my children by Stanbic IBTC and being able to earn enough money to take care of my family.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve been to since you became popular?
The Cruise&CHillz boat party in October last year at Lekki, Lagos. It was so much fun and I met a lot of people.
What are your likes and dislikes?
My likes include honesty and humility. I dislike dishonesty, lies and pride
How do you relax?
I watch movies or I sleep. I feel there’s nothing as relaxing as a good sleep.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I like denims and short dresses. I think my style is a bit uptown but most importantly, I wear whatever I feel most comfortable in. I am still learning about fashion trends and getting better.
What is the most important lesson that your experience has taught you?
There’s no such thing as impossibility. It is very important to remain humble, work hard, be good and keep trusting in God.
What are the challenges that you currently face?
I have had to learn a lot at once, modelling for the runway and taking pictures, as well as new language acquisition. I have had to adjust to being comfortable in front of the camera. Sometimes, it is difficult for me to meet up with so many expectations given a very limited time.
What would you consider as your achievements since you became a popular person?
I participated in a personality building programme at Poise School and for me, that is a big deal. I have also met people I never thought I would meet in my life. I have been able to secure my children’s education; a privilege that I didn’t have at their age. I represent big brands now and I am currently studying and also learning a number of skills. I have a voice and a story that inspires people and most importantly, I have people who I do not know personally who love me and are very passionate about my success.
Do you have any substantial investment?
That is my personal life and I prefer not to discuss that here.
People are insinuating that you are now pompous and hard to reach, what do you have to say about that?
I am still Olajumoke. I know how I got to where I am now and I do not intend to forget my roots. The truth is that I now have a very challenging schedule and I have to manage that and maintain my home so I now have less time for myself. My management is keeping me really busy between my language lectures, modelling lectures, make-up classes with Zaron Cosmetics, ambassadorial duties and modelling jobs. I apologise to anyone who thinks I have an attitude but there’s a price to pay for upliftment and I can’t disappoint those who helped me get here and who are working hard to ensure that I am successful.