Former Miss Kenya (2004) Juliet Ochieng has undergone serious transformation. From the petite girl, to now a plus size, she opens up to Cheptoek Boyo about adding weight and why she loves her body
You come from humble beginnings...
So true. I was born in Kisumu in a family of six children; I have two sisters and three brothers. My dad was a teacher and my mum was a businesswoman. In 1996, my dad died of tuberculosis. My mum took the responsibility of raising us.
Our lives changed since my mother could barely make ends meet. They were nights where my mother would go hungry because there was barely enough food for all of us. She would sit and watch us eat while she made jokes. She acted like everything was okay. In 2002, she also died. I started living with my big sister.
How did you become a model?
I thank God since I have that ‘go- getter’ spirit. In 2004, I was in Nairobi modeling for Surazuri Model and Casting Agency, that’s when I heard about Miss Kenya. I auditioned in Nairobi but competed in Mombasa. Luckily, I was crowned Miss Mombasa, then I later competed for Miss Kenya and I won and represented Kenya at the Miss World Pageant in China. That same year, we broke the usual stereotype on what a Miss Kenya should be and I am proud to be one of the pioneers.
Tell us about your hubby
I met Joel Darche in a club in 2007. It was his second night in Kenya. We struck a conversation and before we knew it, we were madly in love! We got married in August 2013 and now we have two girls, Savannah Georgie, 7, and Summer Rose, 4, all in primary school.
Being a wife, mother, how’s it?
Since I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a mother and when it was the right time, I had no qualms. Being a mother is challenging but also beautiful.
You struggled with weight loss after birth. Was your husband supportive?
I thank God I have a loving husband who supported me. I moved from a petite girl to a plus size. He is my biggest cheerleader. I was never this confident when I was small figured; I intend to stay the way I am. I have no problem with my body size, I wear what fits me and I don’t force myself in small clothes. I am fabulous.
Recently, your were featured in a lingerie campaign, tell us about it
It was a Valentine’s campaign for Double Dees lingerie. I was the face for the month of February, I loved working with them and currently, we are in talks for a new project but I’m also open to other brands. I am also doing body awareness campaign. I’m on mission to tell women you are beautiful just the way you are, as long as you are confident in your own size.
You also have a project with Jaber Foundation, what is it all about?
I want to give back to the community. I have teamed up with Jaber Foundation to empower women in Kisumu, from the rampant issues of skin bleaching. I want to use this platform to encourage women that being black is beautiful. We will also do a Facebook campaign to honour 100 influential women in Kisumu and a pen pal school programme between under privileged schools and others countrywide.
You have collabos with Collo and Akebulani, any other in the works?
This year, I am not releasing any collabos but I will soon release my new single Nikweli, which is the first song I ever wrote. The song is about my life, from childhood through to adolescent, motherhood and now.
Your will be featuring in a new TV series City Divas, how do you choose your roles?
I love the role of powerful women is society which is easier for me to play so expect more of that. The series is my production in collaboration with Nollywood Company, Eureka Media. It also features top Kenyan actors and renowned actresses within continent.
You have been a victim of cyber bullying...
My husband and I were attacked with the most vicious accusations. They said the most outrageous things involving fictional characters that don’t even exist in my life or my kids’ lives. I am standing up for my family and I will protect them. Yes I’m taking action because I don’t stand for any kind of bullying. I can’t discuss the details for now. My husband and I are even stronger.