Chika Lann, an ex-international model and showbiz personality, courts controversy with her eccentric style. She became an internet sensation with her hairstyle. Lann recently caused a stir at Balogun Market in Lagos with her PVC campaign. In this interview with Chinedu Ibeabuchi, she speaks about the controversy trailing her personality, career, family life and upcoming reality TV show
• I realised that I intimidate many people; they always want to put me down
You recently embarked on a social media campaign targeted at Nigerian youths. What inspired the move?
Many things led to this, but, I think the pivotal point was after the recent tanker accident in Lagos and the several loss of lives. You see, like everyone else, I complained bitterly on social media and then I realised that wouldn’t change anything. So, I decided to take it to the streets. I am simply awed by the level of creativity in the entries that I have received so far. So much that I wish I could reward every single entry. Nigeria is blessed with so many talents and I hope this challenge will not just end here but will be a catalyst that would trigger real change.
You featured in ‘Oyinbo Wives’ a Lagos TV series and Linda Ikeji shaded your performance. How did it make you feel?
I am indifferent because I have realised that I intimidate many people and they always want to put me down. I don’t take them seriously. I appeared in a single scene in ‘Oyinbo Wives’. I went out with my friend – who is one of their characters – and when they saw me, the producer was wowed. She insisted I must join them. After the shoot, they really wanted me to be part of the show but I refused as I was working on my show then – The Expatriates Wives.
Tell us about the Expatriate Wives?
Like the name suggests, it’s a TV reality show about women married to expatriates. The show chronicles the lifestyles of six ladies married to expatriates in Lagos. Viewers need to expect drama and more drama. In the show, we get to understand what it means to be married to an expatriate.
You are married to an expatriate. How did you meet your husband and why the preference for a white man?
Oh la! You want to know everything. Well, my husband and I met at a wedding ceremony in France. We have been married for 13 years now. Inter-racial marriage has its own challenges outside of the normal challenges of marriage. But we truly love each other so we have a way of working things out.
Some people have a certain misconception about a Nigerian married to an expatriate. How do you handle the snide remarks?
People are entitled to their opinions. I really don’t care about their remarks. If you wait long enough, people are going to talk bad about you no matter what you do or say.
Does your expatriate husband eat Nigerian food?
My husband is an African man with white skin. If you see the way he enjoys Nigerian food, you would be amazed. His best Nigerian food is boiled yam with palm oil and fresh pepper sauce.
Tell us about your educational background?
After my secondary school education in Nigeria, I left for France to further my education. I also did some courses at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, which is about one hour from Annecy, where I lived. I studied Image Consultancy at Sterling Style Academy.
How did you get into the modelling industry?
It was a case of sheer providence. I never struggled to be one. An agent approached me in the middle of a shopping mall in Paris. He asked me if I was a model and when I said no, he was surprised because he felt I have the face and carriage of a model. He signed me into his modelling agency and the rest, like the popular saying, is history. Since my modelling career started in Paris, I didn’t need their approval. But since I came from a very strict religious family, I am sure they wouldn’t have supported it.
What are some of the most notable jobs you’ve done as a model?
Being a model in a big city as Paris, I got a lot of notable jobs. Some of the ones I can remember was the Brazilian Night in Paris, and my deal with Bretz, a world-class luxury designer brand.
Modelling now appears to be an all-comers affair.
The modelling industry has its challenges but it’s a growing industry. People have started taking modelling as a serious career path. Going into modelling out of laziness is a fallacy because modelling is hard. It requires a tremendous amount of discipline. You have to be the right size. You have to watch what you eat. You have to work your butt off because there are so many people fighting for the same opportunity as yourself. It’s easier working in an office than being a model.
Some young models are being taken advantage of (sexually). Why is this so?
I have nothing to say to that. Desperation can lead people to many things and some people are going to take advantage of that desperation. This is not peculiar to the modelling industry because it happens in other industries. Some people sleep their way to the top in an office setting.
So why have you stopped modelling ?
I got married and I started a family. Family and modelling go well together. And since I felt I’ve done well for myself career-wise, I chose to nurture my family for some time. After all, once a model, you will always be a model. I set my priorities right. It’s simple, actually. I understand my family comes first and my career takes second place. With that understanding in place, things are quite easy.
You have a unique fashion sense. What defines your style?
My style is defined by my personality. I believe one’s fashion sense is the first identity people see. I don’t like to blend in with the crowd; rather, I like to stand out. You can see that in my fashion.
Why do you still maintain that your hair cost N40 million despite doubts around this?
It costs N40 million and I don’t know why people find it difficult to believe. It’s not a publicity stunt and I can invest in my hair and invest in the business at the same time. That is exactly what I have done. I believe it is my money and I will spend it how I wish. I would repeat it again that my hair is a work of art and it is worth N40 million.
How long have you had this hair?
A short period of time. I know many people are confused about many aspects of my hair, but I don’t care. I will like to keep it like that.
Why spend so much on hair when there are other profitable ventures to invest in?
This question is assuming that I don’t have profitable ventures. I do actually. And if people don’t understand that spending money on your own image is also a profitable venture, then they don’t know much about business.
So what else do you do for a living?
I am a TV personality, producer and also an image consultant.
How have you coped with the backlashes that have followed?
I never allow what they think about me get to me. I try to live my life as normal as possible. But I must confess, it hasn’t been that easy. I am the kind of person that loves my freedom. Sometimes, I just want to go out and get stuff. But recently, that has almost been impossible because of people coming to take pictures with me.