Friday 26 August 2011

INTERVIEW: Karen Igho "I'm single and ready to mingle + PICTURE Of Her Brand New Look

I really dig Karen's new look, I'm not sure I understand the wrist watch and rolled up tissue though, but hey, she pulled off the pose real good. Below, Karen discusses life after her Big Brother experience and more.
Click READ MORE for excerpts from her recent interview. 
By the way I hear Karen's photo shoot for Ovation magazine is the bomb, guess that's more reason to stay in touch with us, we'll bring it to you once it's released

Karen, nice to have you!
Yes, it’s a pleasure to have you too, TELL (general laughter)
I’m from Warri, Urhobo.

Correct, Warri no dey carry last now.
I carry first now.

How does it feel to win $200,000?
It feels good to know that people actually love you, talking about the audience, Nigeria and the people of Africa. I feel honoured and great.

Did you ever think you would win it?
No. I was just thinking of minding my business and they called my name. I was so surprised and shocked. It still feels like a dream to me. Maybe by the time I wake up from this dream, it would be like five years later.

So, do you know what you would you do with the money now?
I don’t know. I wasn’t even thinking I want this money or that it would fall on my laps. And it fell. So, I’m still in shock. But, I’m still saying that whatever I’m going to do with it is going to be positive. I need to relax, think properly, to know what I want.

Your mother seems to be your number one role model?

Tell us about her.
My mum is my role model because she’s been through a lot in her life. She had me when she was 16. She has eight kids, I’m the first. She left my dad when I was two years old. She’s been through a lot and she got married to my step-dad.

Where is she now?
(Pause)… Don’t worry; she’s still alive.

During one of your chat room sessions, you talked about never meeting your dad. How does it feel like never knowing your dad and how did it mould you into who you are today?
It made me strong, brave and courageous. God has a purpose for me. Something has to happen for another thing to happen, isn’t it? So knowing my dad wasn’t the end of the world. It means I have a story to tell, which was telling my story in the chat room for Africa to hear. And at the end of the day, I just knew my dad like in the few last days before he died, when I went to live with him. A week after, he died. So you see where the bad luck is coming from. It really is nothing at the end of the day because I feel God already has and still has a plan for me.

How old were you when you went to live with him?
I was 14.

So you knew your dad for just a week?
I knew I had a dad. But I don’t know the first or last thing about him. All I knew is that this is my dad and whenever I see him, I’m happy. I didn’t know anything, not even his birthday as I’m sitting here. I didn’t know his likes or dislikes.

Your mum did not tell you anything about him?
You must remember my mum got married to somebody. And I didn’t grow up with my mum, but my grandmother in the village, where there is no electricity, and tap water. I walked around with no slippers, only pants. You know how we do it back home? Yeah, that’s how I grew up.

You moved to the United Kingdom in 2004…?
Who said that?

I’m asking.
I don’t know. But, at the end of the day, I moved to the UK because I was dating this guy at that time, we were dating and before you know, we travelled to the UK and I said I wanted to stay here and work and school as well. I studied Business Administration from Southwark College and did some jobs in the UK. I worked in a restaurant; also in a charity organisation called Outroot - they help deaf and dumb kids - where we go out to different parts of London to convince people why they should donate money to the kids to get them hearing aids and sign language stuff. I just found jobs here and there, you know how London is, nothing is permanent. And I was schooling at the same time (full-time). I tried to do my own business twice because that was what I studied, like selling things I bought from the UK.

There is this other part of Karen people have talked about?
Yeah, I let it out the way it is, regardless of who you are. I went to that show with no strategy. I went there to be myself; me being myself, meaning, you’re going to fight, quarrel… and when you do that, that’s life, you do that with family, friends and loved ones, and when you do that, you settle. I also don’t know how to pretend, I’m not a hypocrite. If I’m upset, I let you know that I’m upset. And if you want to come at me, I give (it back to you). You know, I went through that house because I was misunderstood. At the end, they understood me. Africa understood me, saw me, as a star girl who has been through a lot in life and all she needed was love. They saw that and related with me. I’m not all that bad. Africa proved that by giving me this money, because they felt I had a good heart.

And Zeus…?
What happened to Zeus now? (Laughter)

Tell us about Zeus, was that a strategy or you really felt something for him?
You know me. I’m a kind of person that doesn’t pretend. When I like a guy I like a guy. And if I want to keep you as a friend, I keep you as a friend. For me, Zeus is a very smart, intelligent young man. And you know, I had this side of me people didn’t see; the part of me that is smart. Because I don’t go about saying I’m smart, I don’t do that. So when Zeus came, I was Head of House (HoH) that week and he brought my smart side out, which I am very grateful for. I actually mellowed down and saw things differently. There are many sides to Karen. There is the loud, quiet, soft, sweet Karen, so many. So he brought that side of me out. He was the one guy I connected with among all the guys. But we couldn’t go further because he had a girlfriend. We just ended up being friends.

If the situation were different, would you have loved to go out with him?

Would anything have happened between you two if you had stayed longer in the House?
I doubt. Forget that you see me I’m all loud, but I still have my morals. I was in that house for 91 days and never had shower naked.

You met Denrele in 2007 at his birthday party and he encouraged you to enter for BBA show…?
Yeah, he got me the BBA form, filled it for me because my handwriting was ugly. And he told me to go for the audition, I asked him what should I wear and he said, ‘wear six inch heel and miniskirts’, I said God forbid, for where? He said, ‘so you stand out’. I said no o. You know that day I was wearing tracksuit and I went there, all through the stages, then travelled back to the UK. There, they called me back to come to South Africa, that I had made it to Big Brother. I went to the last audition and they told me to pack my bags and come. Ninety-one days later, I’m sitting here with the money. Thanks to whom? The Almighty God, Africa and Nigeria. Denrele is my close friend and like a brother.

How did you guys meet, the first meeting how was it like?
You know, it’s either you have this wow factor or you don’t. And he said I had this wow factor.

BBA said you were unemployed before entering the house?
Yeah, because I left my job and had no job to go back to, so I was unemployed.

So, are we going to see you probably in Nollywood, music… what are you going to be doing after Big Brother?
To be honest, the sky is my limit. Whatever will come my way, I am willing and open with all my heart; whatever it is, be it acting, modelling, deejay, or appearances, billboards… whatever will come my way, it’s fine. With me, it’s like I want to try everything, whatever I’m good at.

Do you see yourself as a role model?
Do you see me as a role model?

It’s a thing of the mind, I might see you as a role model, but you might not…
When you say role model in such a way, yeah I believe you should be true to yourself. All role models should remember that. I was true to myself, I was honest, straightforward. You know, that’s what life requires from one. Number one, be yourself, believe in yourself. Follow your dreams. Never ever give up, because I know that God has a plan for everybody, it might take long, years even, but that plan would come to pass one day.

You and Luclay were quite close?
Yeah, Luclay and I were like brother and sister. But, I didn’t understand Luclay because he’s an actor. And after what he did to Lotus when she slapped him. When we had a fight, I was thinking of pushing myself into slapping him too and they evict me. After what he did trying to pull my pants down, knowing that I had never had shower naked in the house, I want to show Africa what? You know, I felt I should not be happy, so I just took a step back on our friendship. We’re still friends now and have forgotten about what happened. But, on that show, I didn’t know if it was really him. I even told him that I didn’t know who he was anymore. But, we’re cool now, just keeping it real.

So, who would you say were your best friends in the house?
Mumba (and) Baby P because I saw myself in them. Like Baby P, she’s been bullied a lot when she was young. I was bullied a lot in primary school, in my life and everything. And, Mumba comes up she’s been through hardship, just like I have. She’s done farming, lived in the village as well. Things were not all rosy for them. So I relate with them.

Not much is known about your background?
Yeah, I went to so many primary schools, StarTribe Primary School, Township Primary School, then Government Secondary School, Hopeshe in Jos. When I finished, I went to college in the UK.

What about your relationship with Vina?
Yeah, Vina is a nice girl, initially though, she was doing gra-gra, then later she calmed down. But she’s fun to be with.

Are you related to Peter Igho?
Yeah, I’m his niece. He’s my dad’s elder brother. My dad is the last born in their family.

Are you close to him?
He’s like a dad to me.

So he must have been one of the first persons to call you when you won?

Have you seen him since?
No, I would go to Abuja and see him.

Do you regret anything you have done in the past before Big Brother?
I don’t regret anything, because if you regret something now, you’re going to regret everything in your life. I just feel whatever happens, happens for a reason. They say if you don’t make a mistake, how would you learn out of life? So whatever mistake I’ve made has taught me a lesson.

With due respect, you never mentioned it, but the story goes. Did you really work as a stripper in the UK?
You know, when people first see me, because I’ve done bikini and lingerie model. You know, just like I get love, I get hate. And people who hate me would do anything to bring me down. Not everybody can like me so; the ones who don’t like me would want to twist the story. Of course, I’m sexy, of course, I got a boobs job. But do you know why all those things happened? People want to go about twisting their own stories but at the end of the day, I just want people to be true to themselves, not carrying stories that are not true. Strip clubbing? I never went to the strip club for one day. Why should I work there when I have the opportunity to work and get paid properly? If I had worked as a stripper, why didn’t I bath naked in the Big Brother house?

In the case of the boobs job, some people don’t believe your story that you did it to remove lumps on your breast? 
You know, people would want to believe what they want to believe. But, at the end of the day, it’s me telling you my story. I don’t think people have any right to go your line when you don’t know the person and you didn’t go through the process. You have to be in my shoes. For you to judge me, you need to walk a mile in my shoes. To be honest, there’s nothing to lie about. At the end of the day, it’s my body. I just want to make it clear that this was the reason why I did it. (Breast) lump is nothing to joke about, it could happen to anyone, wife, mum, sister. And it happened to me, and I’m saying that this is why I did it. Can’t people just respect that? What if I actually did that because I had lumps?

So you are actually saying that you did it because you had lumps?

But, there are views that this also has side effects?
But, you have to understand that when I did it, I was very young. It was like, ‘if you didn’t do the silicone, the lumps would spread all over, and be more developed’…. I was very young.

What did you miss most about your real boobs?
Maybe it is knowing that if not because of the lumps, I would have had my own boobs. You know where I’m coming from. So, I just feel that it doesn’t take anything away from me, but that I still have to answer questions about that.

So, what about your love life?
Right now, I’m single and ready to mingle. (General laughter)

What kind of books do you read?
Magazines to know what’s going on; newspapers, novels, I read anything that educates me, not just one thing. When I read a book, I want to gain something out of it.

Can you give us an example?
(James) Hardley Chase is not bad, M&B (Mills and Boon), I like that. Though my favourite book is Married to her Beauty

What do you feel after 91 days in the BBA House; do you miss the House?
Yeah, I’m beginning to miss it. Before, I was like I want to come out. When I came out, I was like oh, I miss Big Brother. I miss the House. At the end of the day, it’s a relief.

Did you ever deal with low self-esteem?
Yeah, when I was a kid, I was bullied a lot.

Did you ever contemplate suicide?
Of course not, why I wan kill myself? (general laughter)

What are your hobbies?
I love to swim, cook, and dance. I love to travel, read. I love to play football. I love watching movies as well.

What were your childhood dreams?
I wanted to be a lawyer and a nurse.

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