POWER PLAYING LADIES! JA Observer’s NOVIA, AFRICAN WOMAN’S REGINA, PR MAVEN JESSICA, JASMINE AND OMOSEXY!
I spent Friday night at the very lush restaurant Mango Tree in Belgravia with a set of power playing women from the industry. At the elite intimate dinner were British PR maven Jessica Huie, new African woman’s Editor Regina Jane Jere, lifestyle editor for the Jamaican observer Novia McDonald-Whyte, and the biggest Nollywood actress / singer- Omotola Jalade Ekeinde otherwise known as Omosexy! We talked about so much. Omotola’s travels across the world with and without her airline pilot husband Capt. Matthew Ekeinde, (apparently they are the Angelina and Brad of Nigeria!) . How she manages to stray connected to her 4 children whilst abroad-I offered to teach her how to use skype. We discussed her impending trip to Jamaica where the Jamaicans are notoriously not impressed by any celebrity whether Beyonce or Nicki Minaj. If they spot Usain Bolt in the street they nod and walk on by. When I pushed Novia to reveal whom Jamaicans were really fanlike over she said…’no one ever really-except…Adele’! Omotola is about to be catapulted into the international sphere with her very own reality show The Real Me, which starts on October 8th on OHTV -Sky channel 199. So she will soon be the Kim Kardashian of the African continent and as Nollywood’s already so huge internationally, no doubt the international press will soon be onboard to place this curvy, tall glamazon woman in our daily tabloids.
Omotola was refreshingly and frankly open considering that she had her camera crew capturing every moment of her evening from fork to mouth to conversations. We discussed her thoughts on London (I’ve been here so much I know it really well), to her diva daughter Mariah (she is the biggest diva) WELL what do you expect when you name her that LOL?, to playing jokes on us (I’m on a diet I cant eat anything-proceeds to order everything and laughs ‘did you really believe me?’), to revealing ‘the only wine I drink is port wine’- as I laughed and told her that’s my mums fave too! It’s always the fact that the bigger the star the more likely they are to be fully involved with numerous charitable causes because they want to give back and Omotola is no exception. She’s regularly involved in extensive charity work in her home country of Nigeria. Another attribute A Lister’s always have is they’re articulate and opinionated and here again Omotola was no exception. She was brutally frank on her thoughts on her fellow African music acts, actresses, food, places that she’s travelled to and more. We picked out mutual friends like MTV Africa’s Alex Akossi and OK Nigeria’s Alexander Amosu. With Novia’s input we all discussed the various circles of black society both in Jamaica and the UK and the difference in cultural rituals and society. There seems to be a bigger more connected circle of affluent, wealthy black middle class families and communities in Kingston than in London. Novia promised to look after Omotola on her trip to JA the following week and lo and behold a few days later
JASMINE WITH OLYMPIAN TASHA DANVERS!.
Next I had a longer chat to Tasha Danvers-the Olympic 400 mere hurdles medallist. With all things Olympics behind us and Paralympics ahead of us I’m still totally fascinated by athletes tenacity and minds as well as their bodies. I deal with a lot of daily pressure but Tasha explains that hers is mind and body pressure ‘’As an athlete there is a lot of pressure especially if you are on a world class elite level, because there are expectations from your country, from your head coach, and more importantly from yourself. So there is a lot of pressure to perform well consistently, so you have to put that in perspective and remember to have fun while you’re competing so that you can perform to your best, because some people don’t perform very well when they know there is so much pressure on them’’.
Tasha was such a big name at the last Olympics we wondered why she had retired to focus on TV presenting. She explained ‘I retired because I had just had enough. I was just getting injured so much with constant niggles here and there that would take me out of training for a week and then we’d be set back a week and then another thing would happen and then I’d be set back a month. So eventually you get to the Olympics and it’s like I wouldn’t be able to go there and perform to the best of my ability. I could have probably gone on the team for decorations, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to go out of my career on that standard’’.
An athletes daily routine is taxing. Tasha reveals ‘An athlete’s daily routine will vary depending on the athlete but for someone like myself who trains early in the morning I would get up say 6am make sure you eat enough at that time to assimilate the food which will allow you to be able to perform at training without killing yourself. SO that would be an early morning routine so I would train about 9.30 that’s when the warm up would start. Finish training about 12 o clock depending on the session we would then maybe have an ice bath or a massage then go off and get on with lunch and dinner and that sort of thing depending on the day it might be a weights day so we might have weights or it might be circuits it really varies but it will be a mixture of long runs, technical work say hurdling and nutrition and physiotherapy’’.
Comparing the experiences from Sydney and Beijing Tasha laughed ‘’I always wonder why people compare one Olympics to another because what I find is that each Olympics really just showcases itself. Sydney was fabulous; it was definitely one of the most amazing games there were. Beijing actually really shocked me because I thought it was going to be very rigid and everything was going to be structured and you wouldn’t be able to breath but it was amazing the people there were so friendly, they put on a fabulous show, the opening and closing ceremonies were great, so I think they all have done really well in their own right’’.
I often ask music stars what winning means to them with the live stage accolades and crowds singing back your songs to you. tasha revealed sporting is no different ‘ For me getting a bronze medal in the 400m hurdles was a really amazing moment for the fact that I had been through so much to get there .that year had probably been the worst preparation you would want to have as an athlete going in to a major championship like that I’d had Achilles problems, I tore my hamstring two times, I got a virus, it got to the point when I was at my Olympic trials and I almost didn’t get picked. They could have picked someone else and that’s how I had been performing I think the head coach got 42 texts within the first hour that the team list came up asking why they picked me. So to stand at that start line in that final was a big deal for me and I’d already come much further than anyone expected, so when I crossed that line it was just a great relief .the moment that my name came up on that scoreboard still it gives me goose bumps that just solidified everything I had been through was worth it’’.
I loved Tasha’s definition of what truly makes a winner. ‘‘It isn’t crossing the line first, it is someone who is willing to go past their pain threshold who is willing to push past difficulties, over hurdles, and is not willing to accept no as an answer. Its the way they are able to change and adapt to different situations, so you know people lose their jobs, they don’t know what to do? The winner is the person who says you know what I’ve lost my job I didn’t expect to but I’m going to make a plan and I’m going to make this work- those are winners- people who are able to adapt and also people who love their community and look after their community. Those are winners!’’.
Regarding the fact that Africa hasn’t hosted the Olympics Tasha enthused ‘’I think the time has come for Africa to hold an Olympics I mean look at the size of the place, its massive, surely we can find somewhere in Africa that is capable and ready and able to put on an Olympics’’.
With the Paralympics starting this week we discussed the fascinating athletes that put even more struggle into their craft than their able bodied peers. Tasha argued ‘’ I’ve heard a lot of people complain that Oscar Pistorius who runs with the blades has an unfair advantage I find this very difficult to accept because I feel like God whatever he’s had to go through to get to this position where he’s able to run, he’s probably been through a lot and made decisions that we should feel blessed that we’ve never had to make decisions like that ,so to say that he has an unfair advantage I can’t deal with that but each to their own!’’.
Speaking about How big an impact the Paralympics will have on the disabled communities watching Tasha said ‘’I can’t speak for disabled communities but I know that if I saw someone like myself doing something that was amazing I would feel that it would inspire me to do something amazing too. so I can only imagine that for a disabled person to see someone in their same situation going out and achieving amazing achievements that’s going to inspire them to say ‘hang on a minute I don’t need to look down on my situation or feel that I am any less than because look at him and look at her,they’re doing it’ and so I think it’s important because able bodied and disabled people must be able to inspire each other’’.
Tasha finished by speaking on her plans for Rio 2016.’’In 2016 I might be involved in another sport and you might see myself again at another Olympics but most likely I will be involved in broadcasting which is the area that I would love to get involved in so who knows watch this space!’’.