The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.
NAME: Wana Udobang
AGE: 29 going on 30
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria
LOCATION: Lagos, Nigeria
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: Wana “Miss WanaWana” Udobang is a force to be reckoned with – a force of creativity, that is. Simultaneously excelling as a writer, poet, broadcaster & On-Air Personality (for 92.3 Inspiration FM – Nigeria’s #1 family station & one of the leading radio stations in the country), spoken word artist, and a documentary producer (among many other things), this insanely talented young woman isn’t your “Jill of all trades”. Nope! She’s a master at every. single. thing. she. does.
I know what you’re thinking, “How is she even human?”, but that’s the beauty of what The Journey to Beautiful is all about: to show that every insanely talented, gorgeous, successful woman is just as human as the next; that we all have stories to tell, and journeys that we’re on.
Wana’s spirit shines brightly, from her megawatt smile to her unforgettable voice, and it’s clear that the journey is simply beginning for this incredible woman.
WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE?
I often see myself as a daughter of the universe. A believer in self-expression; a story teller, dreamer and a positive spirit.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
Hmmm … my hips and thighs, and my face. My cheekbones, I have to say, specifically(I barely ever use blusher as a result)
WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
My personality. I am as much an extrovert as I am introspective, and I have a strange ability to bond with people quite quickly, for some reason. I also have a great deal of empathy and I think that helps with understanding people a bit better.
WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE? HOW?
In relation to physical traits, I have always been big and thus teased, taunted and told all sorts; so, I went through very long periods of self-loathing. On the bright side, I got to a point where I wanted to be defined by anything other than what I looked like; so, I was always developing other aspects of myself, gifts and personality. When I think about it now, it was my way of overcompensating, because I kind of thought I didn’t get a beautiful body pass. In that case, I would need to be smarter, sharper, funnier and more capable. However, you become all those things and the self-loathing doesn’t go away because things happen, and the trigger sends you back to that bad place of deep insecurity and dissatisfaction.
So, I say, take care of yourself – body, mind and spirit,
On the non-physical traits, I still struggle with the fact that I am quite open. Sometimes, I wish I could be a bit more enigmatic just for the sake of it, and maybe because there is something a bit alluring about people who don’t let out very much. However, it never quite works out that way. I also find that, in my openness, others feel more comfortable being vulnerable and sharing. So as much as I beat myself up about it, a little afterwards, I think it is for the greater good. So it is one of those catch-22 situations.
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My parents got divorced when I was ten years old so my father hasn’t been a part of my life. But I suppose, inadvertently, it has made me very strong, independent and self reliant; but, more importantly, seeking validation within myself and not from other people. When you grow up that way, you are always self-taught and figuring things out for yourself, so there is a certain fearlessness that you develop as well, which has been quite helpful in the way that I live my life. There is no one telling you about what is possible and impossible which has been hugely influential for me. So in my world, there are no limits or boxes. That kind of freedom is indescribable.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
Not exploring my gifts, talents and myself to their full potential scares me. I am of the belief that I have so much to offer the world, and not being able to do that, leave some kind of impact is really frightening. However, I always just take it one step at a time and do the best I can in the process. I’m not one to put pressure on myself.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
Family, friends and just being submerged in a creative space. I am happiest in the midst of good food, drinks and great conversation. I like to laugh and I love to discover.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
That’s a difficult one because I just do things I love and enjoy and then set myself challenges to know how far I can push myself. So I don’t know that I’m too acknowledging of the things I do as achievements. But I suppose if I did have to mention things I have done that I am proud of, they would include graduating with a first class, releasing my spoken word album Dirty Laundry, creating the documentary Sensitive Skin. I think there might be other things, but I suppose as I set myself newer challenges, I forget the old things I have done. I do think your best years are ahead of you, though.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
Oh gosh, when I’m happy, I feel the most beautiful, and I’m happiest when I’m productive, the work I’m creating is impactful, and the people in my life are healthy. Once there is good health, both mental and physical for myself and the ones I love, then I’m good. That puts me in a good place and a good place is happiness for me and I think the beauty radiates.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
I think beauty for me is being my authentic self, when I’m able to just be me and not be bothered by anyone else’s opinions or constructions of whom I should be. It’s also acceptance of myself both inside and out.. The loud, the overly bubbly, the sometimes moody and overthinking philosopher. The wobbly belly , the saggy boobs and the very firm thighs. The childish smile, the flirty eyes and the wannabe burlesque dancer. It’s moving from loathing to acceptance and then to loving. It’s knowing the power that you hold inside of you. Most of all, it is confidence, and being unafraid to rock that confidence. That is my version of beautiful.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
I just surround myself with positivity. Positive people, genuine people and clean energy. I am also very reflective, so I do a lot of taking stock, meditating and taking responsibility so that I can own up to what needs to be fixed. I like walking as well: I’m thoroughly in my head and in my own company. I also try to stay in a happy place by making other people happy, being productive and creative.
WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
I think almost everyone I meet on a daily basis is constantly inspiring me. I love anyone that is a dreamer, a doer, that doesn’t put limitations on themselves, and even when there are limitations, they are ebbing their way through it and navigating those barriers. I’m also inspired by people that are open and allow themselves to be vulnerable.
But I always say my mother’s strength and, interestingly, her complexity is a constant inspiration.
Watch Wana’s amazing documentary, Sensitive Skin, on living with severe psoriasis in Nigeria. It’s subject is the very inspiring, Glory Edozien, creator & host of The Inspire Series.
Also, prepare to be blown away by Wana’s spoken word talent. Here’s a little taste:
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