5 Minutes With Frances Udukwu
Frances Udukwu is the reigning Miss Africa USA and the Founder of a non-governmental organization called Lead Girl Foundation. In this interview, Frances gives us an insight into her life, beliefs and advice to aspiring queens as well as people in general.
Hi Frances, briefly introduce yourself.
I am Frances Onyemaechi Udukwu, I am the reigning Miss Africa USA and the Executive Director for an NGO called the Lead Girl Foundation.
What is a day in the life of Miss Africa U.S.A?
Typically, no one day is the same. On a regular basis my day is filled with prayers, exercises, food, back to back meetings, phone calls and working on current projects. I sometimes read up on articles just for pleasure.
What would you say you have learnt in your time as beauty queen?
On a deeper level, I’ve learned the importance of humility, prayer and confidence. I’ve learned the importance of understanding who you are because it shows when you interact with people. I’ve learned the importance of being prepared. I’ve also learned the power of pageantry; most people think beauty queens are trivial but there’s a lot of impact beauty queens like myself can make in communities.
Your background is filled with tales of you embracing your culture, can you share your opinion on the dying African culture in the younger generation?
I’ll say African culture in this time is finally receiving the embrace and applause it deserves. Currently there’s a campaign #AfricaToTheWorld #buyAfrican and we can see people have started to notice the flavor, culture, beauty and talent that Africans possess. I remember growing up and being embarrassed for having a Nigerian last name and being laughed at for smelling like fish because my mum cooked African food at home. In those times, the African culture was almost dead to me because I didn’t want to associate myself because of the ridicule I received. Now, we have African and American music collaboration, successful business men and women wearing our clothing, I think it can only go up from here.
From an Igbo perspective; I will say our language is dying. I know a lot of young Nigerians who can’t speak their language. On the upside there are many resources to help like apps and websites that teach local languages. That way our languages are preserved beyond generations.
What do you hope to accomplish with your time in this position?
My goal has always been to expose the beauty, culture and talent that Africa holds especially in diaspora and to be a form of motivation and encouragement for the average woman, most importantly for the woman who doesn’t see herself worthy to assume any top tier roles.
With my NGO, the goal is to essentially implement programs across Africa and within the United States for women of color, that’ll help with becoming financially independent.
What are your long term goals?
Possibly going to law school and fulfilling my dream to work in foreign service or foreign policy as an ambassador or diplomat. I also want to continue with the progression of my NGO and becoming a progressive business woman who is in line with the #buyAfrican and #BuyNigerian campaign.
Words of advice to aspiring beauty queens.
Think beyond the crown. Although it might be your aim, making it your primary goal is a great disservice. Beauty queens should appreciate the opportunity to represent where they come from. It was the outstanding factor for me when contending for Miss Nigeria USA then Miss Africa USA. My last advice for people in general is to understand that no one can be more you than you. So be yourself throughout every endeavor that you set your heart to.
Words you live by.
Onyemachi is a word I live by because it is me, it is my middle name which means nobody knows tomorrow but God. I feel it is a reflection of everything I have been through in life generally.