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BN Saturday Celebrity Inteview: Back on the Nigerian Scene, Model/Media Personality Isio Wanogho Dishes on Kissing Chris Attoh, the Journey So Far & Her New Projects

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Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (3)Pretty, chic, fun and focused are just a few words that describe Model/Media Personality Isio Wanogho. With a huge array of campaigns in print and on TV as both a model and presenter in her eleven year career, she gracefully surpassed her peers, earning a great reputation and popular acclaim.

Being the last born of five children to a ‘very intellectual’ family, Isio did not relent in her educational pursuits, endlessly breaking the stereotype of the bimbo model.

With her modelling career taking the back seat in the last few years, Isio’s bountiful career still sees her recognized as ‘Isio the model’ even though her other exploits have brought in more income.

Equipped with her effervescent and elegant personality, Isio sits at the Scarlet lodge and discusses with BN in-depth about her new projects and how she’s about to woo the world yet again.

As a model, one of your most striking features is your very beautiful eyes. Your eyes have raised a lot of comments as to if you’re mixed-race or have some Asian blood in you. So, are you?
To the best of my knowledge, I’m not Chinese (laughs) or mixed. I get a lot of disappointed faces when people ask, mostly abroad, where I’m from and I tell them that I’m African and more specifically, Nigerian. They seem to expect something more exotic, like my grandfather is Japanese and my mother is Egyptian. But, no, I’m a pure bred Urhobo, one hundred percent.

I read in a tabloid that you are related to Cynthia Bailey from the Real Housewives of Atlanta because you two look alike.
May be we had a common ancestor or her Kinta Kunte was taken from my tribe (laughs). Honestly, I wasn’t like this when I was a child. It was there but it wasn’t so obvious and the older I got, it became more obvious so I decided to highlight it. It’s very easy for me to do the wind thing because I don’t have to spend so much time contouring and all that. The older I got, my nose started becoming straighter and my eyes started going upward. When I was younger, I was the butt of a lot of jokes because of that actually.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Lagos. When I was five, I went to boarding house. A school called May Flower at Ikene, Ogun state – Tai Solarin’s school. The reason for that was my father wanted all his kids, male or female to be very strong and very self-reliant. I had barely formed and he just bounced me there. All of us were in the school so there was no whining about it. I spent twelve years there and came out when I was seventeen. I started modelling when I was eighteen.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (4)

You’ve made quite a comeback on the social scene. What was the reason for the hiatus and where have you been?
I was away for two years. I’m such a nerd. That is something a lot of people don’t know about me. I love to read and study. I come from a family of intellectuals so I can’t be lacking in that regard. So, I went away to do my Master’s degree in Europe. I went to a design school in Italy to study Interior architecture. I couldn’t imagine just having a bachelor’s degree and being done with it. I have a bachelor’s in creative arts and wanted to delve a little further. Apart from that, I have several diplomas – it’s ridiculous, about four actually.

So you have quite a love for school?
I love to study. I went to finishing school. I studied Italian and did some computer programming courses. I did fashion design. I really just love to study because I was lucky enough to know my strengths and know what I like to do. And, maybe it is because of the boarding house influence as I was allowed a lot of expression. If you are good in many things, you owe it to yourself to pursue that many things and find out which one you like best and that’s just what I do. I love to model. I love being a socialite because it’s fun. I love to paint, read and study so I do all these things. For me, it’s not just about one thing and ignoring all the others. I do everything I love.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (19)

You were recently made the Youth Ambassador for Global Unity, Peace & Development. How did this happen?
Before this happened, an organization, African Youth Society told me they had been studying my life and career for about two or three years. I had no idea. They wanted to give me a role model award sometime back in 2010. They let me know, as they had studied me and found out that I pretty much made myself. They were quite impressed and wanted me to mentor other young people; especially since people thought that modelling was quite frivolous. They wanted to use me to show people that you could be a good model, be well-educated; have a good image and still sustain a great career. After that, its governing body decided to make me a youth ambassador instead. I am still very excited about it.

So, what duties have been bestowed upon you as a result?
I will soon start up my own foundation. I have an interest in hunger because it’s very dear to me. Out of the three most important human necessities – food, clothing and shelter, I decided to focus on food because I can relate to it. My foundation is going to be about alleviating hunger. I want to have a soup kitchen where twice a day, every day for the rest of your life if you wish, you can come and have a good meal. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re coming from. Some people are so poor and it is sad how we take some of these things for granted.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (1)Every day, as a model, I am reminded about this. People come to me saying, “You have a great body. I am too fat. How do I lose all this extra weight?” And, I’m thinking to myself, “You don’t know how much of a luxury ‘being fat’ is”. Some people are so poor and hungry that they have no choice but to be thin and skinny. I was in a boarding house for so long in a school that was very hard. I know what it is to be hungry and be crying. I know what it is to eat fish bones and treat it like your chicken or to be so thirsty that I would be crying. Don’t get me wrong, my school wasn’t a poor school but it was very hard, almost like a military school. So, if food is one thing I can give back so that you never have to cry, I think I have done my part.

What are some of your fondest memories as a child?
Growing up, I used to love Kung fu. I was a tomboy. And, with my love for modelling since six, by the time I was becoming muscular at thirteen, I had to stop. You know those mops you can unscrew the head from the stick? I used to use those sticks to smack anyone who was getting on my nerves. I used to play fight with my friends and siblings. I love action movies. I’m not the type of person to watch romantic chick flicks.

(Gasps) My mother never knew about this, but she’ll find out now, sorry mummy. There was this neighbour of ours who had a flat roof. My siblings and I would climb up to the top of his house and jump into a pile of sand from it. And, we kept doing it over and over again until we got dirty and tired. It was so exciting. I had an amazing childhood.

How about your fitness now?
I do pilates regularly.

No diet regime?
Well, I don’t eat a lot of grub. I try to eat healthy. I don’t take a lot of milk because I’m lactose intolerant. You need to know how to mix your food. There are a lot of foods you shouldn’t eat together. For example, you shouldn’t eat watermelon with other fruits. It doesn’t digest well. Your body is a machine. Would you pour water and petrol into your car’s fuel tank? No. If you’re not having a very active day, I don’t think you need three full meals. And, even then, I might have one real meal and maybe two light snacks. I cook a lot but I make sure it’s diverse.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (2)

What’s your specialty in the kitchen?
I make a very good Edikan kong soup. Also, my coconut rice with chicken is very yummy. I can cook most things that are not Hausa food.

Does your man love your cooking?
I try not to spoil people I’m dating. I would cook for you but we’re not married so don’t be expecting you’ll see a meal every night. There are certain privileges I have reserved for only my husband. As a boyfriend, you get only a little bit of a taste. You can’t get the privileges of a husband without taking the responsibilities of one.

Mai Atafo Dream Wedding II - June 2013 - BellaNaija (3)

What was it like kissing Chris Attoh at Mai Atafo’s “Dream Wedding II”?
Chris is such an amazing person. It was so short that a lot of people missed it. I actually got a prank call from a girl shouting, “you kissed Chris… blah blah blah” and I was like “Sister, it is not that hard. Relax”. It was a really short kiss. It was supposed to be long and deep and romantic but it was nice.

Did you two rehearse the kiss before the big day?
No, we didn’t rehearse. I had gotten the brief and I knew it was going to happen but all I kept saying was “Chris, don’t come and spoil my market”. He just laughed and kept reminding me that it was acting so it’s fine.

Would you say Chris Attoh is a great kisser?
Kissing Chris was… (giggles) He was very gentle. We’ve been friends for about six years and we’ve done a lot of wedding shoots together. If I was going to kiss someone, I would rather it be my friend. To all of Chris’ female fans, please don’t send me any hate mail.

With the chemistry you had on the stage, some people made comments that you and Chris have dated before.
No, we haven’t. He’s a nice guy and he’s just a friend. Also, the fact that I said we’ve been friends for six years doesn’t mean that we hang out regularly.

In that case, who’s the man in your life right now?
I’m not among the school of people who think that being single is a death sentence. On the contrary, I have lots of fun. I’m more successful when I’m single because I’m driven and focused. I don’t like dating but I enjoy being in a relationship which is tough because I need to date before it can evolve into a relationship. What I mean by this is that I’m not one of those girls who goes in and out of relationships. I give myself time to deal with whatever went wrong and if we can’t fix it, then we move on. I give myself a long time to make sure I don’t repeat past mistakes. And, yes, I’d have lots of suitors during that period but, you don’t just date because you’re scared you’ll be alone. You date because where you’re going to is better than where you’re coming from. Until I can find someone that can give me that, there’s no point. So, I’m at that point where I’m ready to make the decision. I’m single right now.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (11)

What about marriage?
My mother has never for once, pressured me about marriage. Right now, I’m twenty nine and I’ll be turning thirty this year. My mum got married when she was twenty six and then my dad was in his mid thirties. She always tells me that a bad marriage is the second worst thing in the world, next to going to hell, so I should take my time and be with the right person. And, we don’t believe in divorce so my mum always tells me no one will give me an award if I rush into it.

Have you been engaged before?
Yes, I have and that is more of a reason why I don’t want a repeat of any of my past mistakes. If you’ve been engaged before, you realize that before you do it again, you need to make sure it is worth it.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (9)

Do you have any celebrity crushes?
I really like Chiwetel Ejiofor but nobody is going to tell me if he’s married (laughs). My type of man is very masculine. I also like Usher and Jason Mamoa‘Khal Drogo’ from ‘The Game of Thrones’ TV series. I like Michael J. White.

Are there any celebrity females you ‘admire’?
People tell me I have a great body but I think the person with the most amazing body is Blake Lively. I also like Amber Rose‘s body.

How about your TV career?
I’ve got a few projects in the works.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (8)

Back to your art, you mentioned that you love to paint. How did you get into painting?
Yes, I do. I actually have a studio in my house. During my bachelor’s degree, I majored in painting and sculpture. I have an exhibition coming up soon around September and I have to showcase about ten paintings. So, that’s another aspect of me.

I was born with the gift of art. I never ‘learnt’ how to be an artist. You know that kid that would just sit somewhere and scribble on all her notebooks? That was me. It was only natural that I pursued an education in it. I’m an artistic and creative person. When I tell people all the things that I’ve done and all the things in my CV, they say – “Wow! How can one person do all these things?” But, it’s not so difficult if you allow yourself to be fluid. It’s all about creation and expression and there are so many mediums to do this. For me, there are no limits – from fashion to oil on canvas; or graphic design, whatever. If you throw me in a desert, I would make sculptures with sand. As long as I can express myself, whatever medium is fine.

Did you miss modelling while you were getting your Master’s degree?
I did. I modelled in Milan, not professionally though. The primary reason of me going abroad was to get my Master’s so I was focused but I just couldn’t resist. Modelling is such a beautiful thing. I can’t explain it; you just have to feel it, especially when I’m on the ramp. It’s like how a dancer feels when they are in the zone. I love Latin dance, by the way.

As a Lagos socialite, there aren’t so many opportunities to salsa at events or at the club. What is night life like for Isio Wanogho?
I go to events to meet my industry friends and have chats. But, I won’t dress up and go to a club. I would dress up to go to the movies with my friends or go to the park or maybe even go jet skiing. I’m not a club person. I would rather dress up and go to a Salsa club.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (7)

What else do you enjoy doing while you’re ‘off-duty’?
I love to cook. I love to read. I love to laugh so I hang out with people that make me laugh. I swim but I would only swim if I knew that my feet could touch the floor. My head has to be above the water. I would swim in the ocean if I had a life jacket. I actually prefer that to a pool. I did that when I was in Porto Venere in Italy. We swam in the Mediterranean and it was a lot of fun.

Most recently, a lot of Nigerian models have braved the art of nudity in photography. Being an artist and a model, would you ever consider posing for such?
Oh no! Why would I do that? Modelling is about selling something; it’s about an ideal. Because I use my body as a vessel to promote someone else’s creativity; that is what it is. You can make the clothes scanty, nudist or what have you, but I’m not selling my body to you. I’m selling your clothes on this body so people can say – ‘Wow! That looks nice’.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (6)As an artist, I understand body art and the body as an art form. If I see a nude portrait and I think it looks nice, I would applaud the photographer. For crying out loud, I’ve painted live nude models in arts class while we’re studying the body’s anatomy so I’m no stranger to nudity. But, for me, it’s a no. My body is a very nice gift so I’ll keep it under wraps (laughs).

Speaking of covering up, you always look very fashionable at events. How would you describe your style?
Comfortable chic!

What would you never be caught wearing?
Brown fishnets. There are other things but that is at the top of my list.

Do you have any favourite African designers?
Frank Osodi, Mai Atafo, Deola Sagoe, Tiffany Amber, Da Vida and most recently, Folake of House of Maflax.

Isio Wanogho - July 2013 - BellaNaija (10)

Are you putting your Master’s degree in Interior design to use yet?
Yes! I have my own design company, Isio DelaVega Design Studios (IDDS). I have staff who work with me on a wide array of works. The company also has fashion and communications departments. For now, all our energy is focused on satisfying our interior architecture clients. Over time, we’ll be able to expand in the other areas.

Tell us one of your unusual habits
When I get really happy sometimes, I go completely naked and sing at the top of my voice all over my house. I only do this when I’m alone though. My neighbours think I’m very crazy. Generally, I also don’t sing if there’s anyone there. I just do it for my own personal pleasure.

It was great chatting with Isio and from BellaNaija, we wish her the very best!

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51 Comments

  1. Grayce

    July 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I like what she says about cooking for a man who is not ready to take on the responsibilities of a husband. Women take a clue

  2. nky

    July 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I have always loved Isio…….. Nice interview

  3. bimpe

    July 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    she is gorg! warm personality, beautiful smile, you go girl!

  4. Oaken

    July 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    She looks prettier with hairstyles that conceals some of her forehead

  5. nene

    July 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    this woman is gorgeous., and yes, it’s her eyes. for some weird reason people think eyes like that are asian. not really. those are the shape of a cat’s eyes, asian eyes are slanted, yes, but they only have one eyelid which makes them look sleepy, hence they do double eyelid surgery. isio’s eyes are the shape of a cat, and she’s a very gorgeous woman.

    • polob

      July 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you o.I have cat eyes too and people keep asking if I have Asian blood .Asian eyes are slanted and if you place me next to an Asian person my eyes aren’t anywhere close. What irks me is people think it’s a compliment to say “you have Asian eyes”…like seriously!!

    • kayla

      July 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      say the truth………u like d attention it gets u. plus ppl r attracted to dat kind of eye******speakin frm xperience!

  6. milly

    July 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Pretty Urhobo lady! She is so so cool!

  7. MN

    July 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Isio! I have always loved this lady! What made me fall entirely in love with her was one of the facebook posts years ago….. i think she called someone “anofia” and “akobi elede” ….it was so freaking hilarious, I love the fact that she s a driven, focused, intelligent, artistic, sensible, inspiring, grounded, ambitious woman…. I’m a FAN!

  8. Deelicious

    July 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    i like Isio plenty much!!! met her last year at one of the Open mic theatre events last year…shes so beautiful…lovely personality too. keep up the good work dearie. you’re very inspiring 🙂

  9. www.myHairmyBeautyNigeria.com

    July 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    She is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! and seems really smart.

    Loved this interview!

  10. chizzy

    July 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Wow! Only dat man dat takes responsibilty of a husband deserved to be cooked for. Yes.

  11. The Fairy GodSister

    July 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Wow! Four diplomas, a Masters and she still wants to study? She just climbed to the top of my ‘cool’ list. She reads like she has a good head on her shoulders, and I really respect that.

    Plus she’s gorgeous!! Like effortlessly!

    Good luck to her!

  12. sweetie

    July 20, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Isioooooooooooooooooooo Nice interview #irepunilag hahaha

  13. Chigbo

    July 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    She s cool.

  14. Ona

    July 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    “People have always told me i have a great body but i think the woman with the best body is Blake Lively”. Self-absorbed much?? Questioned had nothing to do with u tho. Question clearly asked who u admired in the industry.
    PS: Her body is average…..but i LOVE the kinky curly hair she’s rocking in the 2nd pic. Love it!

    • Ona

      July 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      *question

    • Grayce

      July 21, 2013 at 1:40 am

      no one should call u a hater… u are a true constructive critic!!!I concur

    • Idak

      July 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      There is no space for constructive critics on BN,we only acknowledge haters here 🙂

    • silas

      July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

      i concur… her body is really average… she looks average too, nothing extra-ordinary. but she sure can have an intelligible conversation and that makes her really beautiful!

    • THANG

      July 21, 2013 at 3:29 am

      THANK YOU!

      SHE NEEDS TO LAY OFF THAT “FEELING MYSELF” PILL!!

    • cos i say so

      March 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      WHY are you shouting

    • Msunderstood

      July 21, 2013 at 4:06 am

      I also think her body is average especially for a model. She sounds cool tho.

    • Simya

      July 22, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Yup!!! I thought I was the only one that noticed how self absorbed/pompous she appeared….so indirect with answering questions. Definitely not feeling her personality, however, she’s a smart and beautiful lady and I wish her all the best

  15. Aduke

    July 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    You studied interior design not interior architecture, Oniro. I was there with you remember….. Snobbish and rude as hell. Not like the sun shines out of your ass or anything like that.

    • dinky

      July 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      We attended the same secondary school. Although, she was a tomboy, she has always been really smart and she was my senior.When it comes to art, indeed, she is a natural. I remember someone dissing her at a meeting and instead of going verbal, all she did was take a chalk, walk to d black board and sketched the imagine of someone suffering from Kwashoirkor (not sure that’s d correct spelling…). we all clapped!

  16. Nora

    July 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    She seems like a really cool person……plus she is beautiful….I liked d part on boyfriends and food.

  17. Kiky

    July 21, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I have always loved Isio, she is so cool and level headed, remember her from our days in Unilag…all the best girl.

    geneafrique.com

  18. dee one

    July 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

    One of my best BN interviews this year, she sounds like a straight forward person and I like that.

  19. SCHOLAR

    July 21, 2013 at 3:25 am

    NOTHING AGAINST HER BUT SHE TOTALLY CONTRADICTED HERSELF HERE, SAYING…

    “I swim but I would only swim if I knew that my feet could touch the floor. My head has to be above the water.”

    BUT WENT ON TO SAY….

    “I would swim in the ocean if I had a life jacket. I actually prefer that to a pool.”

    DOES YOUR FEET TOUCH THE FLOOR IN AN OCEAN?!….IJA

    • Chikaka

      July 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      Well spotted.

    • CurvesAndEdges

      July 17, 2014 at 2:14 am

      she said she WOULD swim in the ocean, which suggests that she hasn’t…… understanding is key

  20. comment awaiting moderation!

    July 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Luv her in Glo Gbam show,she speaks well..No guestion about Ruggedman?

    • Idak

      July 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      You dey find trouble o!

    • ba-na-na-na

      July 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      As in

  21. Dan

    July 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    She is. So understated. Her intelligent has never stopped amazing me.

  22. Not Mrs. Williams

    July 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    What’s the story with she and Adebola Williams though? They are always together at events. Methinks they make a cool couple.

  23. BubblyBliss

    July 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    She is beautiful but her face is somewhat… forgettable. Every time I’ve seen a picture of her, I’ve wondered, who’s this beautiful woman and then I see her name and I’m like: why won’t her face just stick.

    • birdieblue

      July 22, 2013 at 1:28 am

      I think its cause her face is adaptable/ or easily can change. looking at the pics here I feel the only thing reminding me it the same person are her eyes. Beautiful lady though and I admire her for admitting the need to just take a break from the dating scene sometimes and owning her different strengths.

  24. lanre

    July 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

  25. Candy

    July 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

    @ Scholar, dont conclude! If am not mistaking, i guess why she said swim in d ocean with a life jacket is because a life vest enables u float on water. hence swimming with ur head above d water. 🙂

  26. Babious

    July 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

    longer weave suits her better.

  27. Jummai

    July 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Her feets are not so great!

  28. Hurperyermie

    July 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

    nice shape and beautiful face

  29. Harvey Nashhh

    July 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I really liked the interview. On the contrary I don’t see a self-absorbed person, I see self confidence and self-awareness in a young woman who clearly knows her strengths and weaknesses. One can easily mistake confidence for ego. To each his own though. Nice one BN.

  30. beeee

    July 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    @BubblyBliss……you sre suffering from Amnesia ……lol!

  31. bestow

    July 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    lay off my girl. Haters gonna keep hating, but am gonna keep loving.

  32. Aderonke

    August 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I have not met this lady but from this interview she is intelligent and has a great personality. I think she will be fun to hang out with, very real and sincere…love u already Isio!
    I have stolen these words from u “You can’t get the privileges of a husband without taking the responsibilities of one.” well said sis

  33. JO

    November 24, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Isio is really stunning and intelligent lady with class. Love her. Her face is not forgettable to me.

  34. JO

    November 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Love is Isio. Stunning and intelligent lady

  35. chifire

    July 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    ISIO. My best friend (in my head).

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