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I was meant to shine, so I will reach Hollywood

ANITA FABIOLA KYARIMPA:  She is more famous as the host of NTV’s Be My Date show. Joseph Ssemutooke talked to the beauty who is also an actress.

I have to begin by saying that you are so beautiful, it even hurts. In fact, allow me to suggest that first and foremost, you tell us what it is like being very beautiful –whether it’s inconveniencing or blissful.
Hahaha. Crazy question. But I will only say that I’m very comfortable in my skin, that I don’t in any way feel bad about people considering me beautiful. I rather consider it a blessing.

Okay. And how often do people stop in the streets to simply stare at you, or make loud comments about your looks.
Very often, to be sincere. However, I guess that being a TV presenter, people out there stare not just because of their consideration of my looks, but also because they have seen me on TV. They stare in shopping stores, when I’m out at a public function, even a few guests on Be My Date have told me that they came to the show with looking at me in person as one of their chief motivations.

From your experience, what is it exactly about you that people find most attractive.
Hahaha. I think it is my hips. I have heard so many comment about them, questioning whether they are real or fake. Even the guys who have come to my show to look at me in person, apparently they have mainly wanted to look at my hips first-hand and ascertain if they are real.

You have already rushed us to your show, Be My Date. I think you pull it off perfectly. But tell us how the concept came about, whether you are the brain behind it…
Thanks for thinking that I pull it off perfectly. I try my best. However, I’m not the brain behind it. I was only picked to present it because the production team at NTV thought I could pull it off. I had unsuccessfully auditioned to present at the station when they wanted someone to do Log In, and when they conceptualised Be My Date, they consulted me as a person they thought would do it well.

And do you think you are really helping the people you host to find love?
Well, what we do is provide them with an opportunity. That is a fact no one can dispute. As regards actually finding love, you know love is a complex issue. Good enough the show is about much more and people don’t come with the idea that they must find love on it or they are dead. Some come just to have fun, others to simply appear on TV, name it.

You are sounding as if you haven’t had people from the show who have gone on to have serious relationships, or even marry.
Don’t get me wrong. I keep a tab on all the couples hooked up on the show, and I can say with certainty that there are a few people who are still dating since hooking up on the show. Only we haven’t had any couple who hooked up on the show getting married. In any case, we have had only 45 episodes so far, so we are still relatively young as a show.

Some conservative people think your show is perverted, that looking for partners the way of Be My Date transgresses our cultural values regarding romantic relationships.
Hehe. I understand that Ugandans aren’t so familiar with the dating culture and are only waking up to it, especially in its modern form. So I can only wait for such people to fall in line with the reality of the times. If anything, the fact that Be My Date is now the most watched show in Uganda means many people appreciate it and what it has to offer.

And some other people have complained that you sometimes bring very haphazard characters on the show –chaps who can hardly express themselves, who have warped ideas of romance.
I have heard that before. But the people who make such complaints should remember that this is Uganda, and the show features ordinary Ugandans from different backgrounds and with different profiles. So the people they see reflect our society in its true form. People should also remember that if someone hasn’t impressed you, they still have a right to search for a partner and to date once they’ve found the partner.

Well, moving on to the lady who helps others’ quest for love. Have you found love yourself?
That is a very private matter I can’t discuss in public.

Could you, however, talk about the number of applications you receive from men and how you deal with them.
Applications don’t find much of their way to me because I have learnt to shield myself from unwanted encroachers. I have learnt to guard my private territory such that very few people can ever get to it –as you can see getting to me for this interview yourself wasn’t easy.

And what if I introduce the story of Sarah Kizito’s son Mored, that you were romantically linked with him and had a planned wedding to him only stopped by his mum who didn’t approve of you?
I won’t discuss Mored at all, as that’s a very private matter. But I will comment on the rumours of animosity between Ms Sarah Kizito and I. Those rumours were only fabricated by the media. I’m at good terms with Ms Sarah Kizito and we have never fallen out over anything.

And if you still won’t talk about the particular individuals in your love life, perhaps you can talk about your general philosophy on love, whether you believe in it, whether you believe in having children and a family.
I believe in love, sure, that is why I help people find it on my show. It is a show in line with my beliefs. And I surely hope to one day get married, have children, be a proper family woman (wife and mother). But that’s far off, I’m only 20 and for now I’m concentrating on my career and studies.

Career and studies! Tell us that you are a student!
Yes, I’m a second year student of Mass Communication at Makerere University.

Whoah! Aren’t fellow students always lining up for autographs and pictures with the diva you are? Aren’t you so much a centre of attraction you distract the entire class and yourself?
Not really. Of course I often get comments from the students, and even the lecturers, in the form of “I saw you on TV,” and the like. A lecturer may even ask me to comment on something in class as a person who has practical experience of what we are studying, and some students have approached me for pictures. But that’s where it stops, the rest is serious studies and co-operation with classmates, without the attitude that I’m a diva or a celebrity.

And at the hostel, or when you are walking around university?
I don’t stay in a hostel as I have my own apartment. I also escape attention from students outside my school because I drive myself and don’t walk around a lot.

That sounds like you are a loaded young woman for your age, with a lot of money which I’m not sure can come from just your presenting job.
Of course I don’t rely on only presenting. I have other personal businesses, and I also do other jobs. For example, I’m the spokesperson for Palletier Teenage Mothers’ Centre, a charity-based organisation in Nansana, I’m also an actress, an event host and organiser, among other things.

How much do you earn per week or month, for example.
That’s my private issue, but it’s enough to sustain me the way I wish to live.

I guess several retakes are lined up against your name, seeing how impossible it must be to balance all you work with studies?
Haha, no retakes. I simply ensure that I properly prioritise and utilise my time correctly. I work during the day and study in the evening, ensuring I don’t miss lectures. I’m aware that I have to have an education to succeed at my other endeavours.

You talked of acting as one of your other endeavours. How did you get into it and how far do you intend to go with it?
I have always loved acting since my school days, and I hope to pursue it all the way to Hollywood. I’m such a big dreamer, you’ll excuse me. My first experience was on the Bollywood movie Escape from Uganda, where I had a very minor role, but now I have a major role in the local series Studio 256 which started airing on NTV last week.

Who are the actresses and actors you love or look to and the productions you enjoy?
I basically love series. I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones, and currently I’m watching Empire. Among actresses and actors, I love Zowie Seldana, Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington. But my African role model is Bonang Makeba, the Face of Revlon.

Most people remember you coming to the limelight at Miss Uganda 2013, where many thought you should have won the crown instead of being 1st runner-up. Looking back, would you say all you have achieved in the entertainment world now is because of Miss Uganda?
Well, I wouldn’t say everything is because of my having been at Miss Uganda, but I would say the Miss Uganda experience has contributed very greatly. I’m a fighter personality who always goes for what I want till I have attained it, so with or without Miss Uganda I was always going to push the doors in entertainment and media. But then Miss Uganda gave me a pedestal and made things easy for me; it gave me a strong headstart such that doors opened much easier than if it hadn’t been there.

So what do you have to say for those who criticise Miss Uganda as an exploitative and worthless project that makes girls wayward?
Those people don’t know how much good Miss Uganda does for the girls who participate. You are taught how to make your beauty count purposefully, they teach you etiquette, they give you life skills, all for free because you don’t pay a penny. Brenda Nanyonjo (Miss Uganda CEO) surely deserves a lot of credit for her work, not negative criticism.

You’ve mentioned that you were always meant to be pushing at the doors of the entertainment and media sectors. Why do you think so?
I grew up presenting and engaging in all sorts of entertainment activities at school, and I always knew it was a direction I would take. I was once Miss St Lawrence, Miss London College, Miss High School Uganda in 2012, was vice president and president of the interact and debating clubs at school… my mother also showed me a picture where at 14 months, I was voted Most Beautiful Baby in East Africa at a competition held in Kenya.
You hadn’t said that you grew up in Kenya!
No, I didn’t. I grew up in Ntinda. I went to school at St Francis Primary School Ntinda and Aga Khan Primary School, then went to St Lawrence London College for six years.

What’s the family you come from like.
I’m the first born of two girls and one boy, born to a mum who owns an importing company and a dad who is a former journalist and now owns a tour company –Pearl Tours and Travels. Actually my family has been very supportive of me or I wouldn’t be where I’m –but they all always support me in my aspirations and efforts, and that has even helped to keep me in check and on track.

Talking of being in check, there are those who think you dress very skimpily.
I really don’t think so. My clothes are only body-hugging, and that’s because I like my figure and body. Otherwise they are never even too short.

And pictures of a very sexy you, bikini clad by the poolside, are making the rounds on social media, by the way, driving people crazy.
All I have to say about it is that people should watch out for fake Anita Fabiolas. There’s actually one who uses my pictures, ask people for money, promises them personal meetings, they should watch out. I don’t get personal with people on Facebook.

Your final message should go to the beautiful girls out there, faced with so much attention everywhere.
My message would be that they keep focused and try to do something with their lives, other than just being beautiful airheads. People will discuss your beauty and even seek to make you commit mistakes you’ll regret, but you need to know what you want and what is right for your life.

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