Little Princess of the Universe, award winning actress and model, Daniella Okoye has revealed how she narrowly escaped rape at a tender age of 11, after a pedophile lured her into a room during an audition for a fashion show in Lagos.
In a chat with TS Weekend, the teenager who marked her 15th birthday earlier in the year with an exquisite photo shoot narrated how it all happened.
She recalled: “I was just a toddler then. I was 11. It was a traumatic experience I will never forget. But for providence, I would have been raped at a fashion show somewhere in Lagos, but I wouldn’t mention the place. First of all, the guy asked me to come inside the changing room, so I innocently went inside to change my costume for the next round of the show when he suddenly locked the door, got close to me aggressively and pinned me to the wall. But God Almighty sent someone that came to rescue me when I shouted with a loud voice.
“It was a terrible experience. Rape is not what any woman should go through. It’s a total abuse of womanhood. Though, I have forgiven the guy who tried to rape me, I (thank) God that my mother and manager, Ebuka Peters are always around me to protect me these days.
“In all of these, I have been motivated to start up a cause tagged: ‘Educate a Girl Child’. The reason is not far-fetched. When a girl child is educated, she knows her rights and has street credibility especially regarding to how to relate with the opposite sex anywhere she finds herself.”
A while ago, Okoye was in the news after her 15th birthday photo shoot went viral, and indeed, Nigerians were shocked to discover that the kid actress and model had come of age.
What has changed about her since she won the coveted crown of Little Princess of the Universe? A smile brightens her features as she responds: “Yes, quite a lot has changed. It has given me the opportunity to partake in educative programmes like the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child that held in Lagos State. I have met and interacted with prominent people in Nigeria and abroad including the Governor of Bodrum in Turkey. With respect to fame and stardom, it has not been easy but I am myself in my relationship with people.”
She adds reflectively: “The Little Princess journey is six years gone and still counting. I have been myself. The pageant has opened new doors for me as I was among those that acted in a movie called ‘Elisa’ and I played the lead. So, it has been an exciting journey for me.”
With her birthday pictures that went viral recently, have boys started courting her? She breaks out in laughter, as she says:
“You know the world we are in, people with different characters and temperaments. I thank God for His wisdom that enables me to dismiss them politely.”
Burden of stardom
Talking about burden of stardom, she quips: “There are lots of things that I can’t do any more. Being a celebrity has robbed me off my privacy. Yes, I am acting and it is a lead role. However, I wouldn’t want to say much because we are still working on set. ‘Isabela’ is going to be another award winning movie and I am calling on my fans to watch out.”
How has she been balancing acting and academics? “Acting does not affect my education because it is normally during the holidays that I have time for it. I am in senior secondary school and I am studying art subjects. I have not made up my mind on the course to study in the university. However, I would like to be a super model, open a school that will train girls who want to contest in beauty pageants, and also, I want to be a fashion designer,” she stated.
Which of her parents did she get her looks from? “A lot of people say I look like my mum but funny enough, my dad says I look like him. But if you ask me, I will say I look like my parents because they both look alike,” she revealed.
Sharing her happiest moments, the indigene of Enugu-Uku, Anambra State has this to say: “My happiest moment was when I was present at the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant at Eko Hotels and Suites. I was touched and can’t wait to get to the age to participate.”
Ever since she hit the limelight, it has been a roller coaster experience for the starlet. Her role in ‘Elisa’ got her a CAMA award for Best Teen Actress among others. And now, she has landed another lead role in a new movie entitled, ‘Isabella’. But how is she coping with stardom? “CAMA award took me to new heights I never believed I could achieve before I clocked 15. Truth is I can’t believe I am 15 already. I give God the glory because it can only be God. The CAMA award blew me out of my mind! I was surprised and at the same time happy. I felt encouraged especially as I got to know that I am the first teenager to win such award. Wherever I go, fans just keep screaming and calling my name and it could be overwhelming sometimes.
However, Okoye has an advice for wannabes. Hear her: “They should be good in anything they do, and above all, they should be God fearing.”