Karen Igho made history as the first female and the third consecutive Nigerian to win the Big Brother Africa Reality show.
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It’s Big Brother season, and what better time to take a trip down memory lane and profile one of the most-talked about stars the popular reality tv show produced?
Before the likes of Tacha, Whitemoney, or Laycon became household names; there was Karen Igho.
A woman of many parts, Igho, found fame when she won the 2011 edition of Big Brother Africa Season 6 also known as Big Brother Africa: Amplified.
Igho made history as the first female and the third consecutive Nigerian to win the show.
She was named co-winner of the show alongside Zimbabwean housemate Wendall Robert Parson.
She was the co-winner of the $400,000 prize money alongside Parson.
She got a six-country vote: Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Rest of Africa, regarded in the show as one country.
Many remember her as the vibrant housemate who dominated the Nigerian celebrity scene for a few years before moving abroad.
The one-time Big Brother Africa winner may have left the limelight, but her brief reign was a memorable one.
Life before BBA
Before entering the Big Brother Africa competition, Igho was in a popular Nigerian reality show, The Next Movie Star.
Surprisingly, during a stay in the 2009 edition of the show, she put up a laid-back front, a personality that was in stark contrast to that of her BBA appearance.
She also had several sordid tales about her. The news mills had it that she was once a stripper in the UK.
It was also reported that her father died of HIV/AIDS, and she was initially raised by her mother, who had to deal with gangs.
The result was that she ended up being raised by her grandmother.
She would later deny those reports stating that she was in the UK for school and had to make ends meet using legit means.
Born on April 6, 1984, in Plateau State, the media personality is a native of Urhobo in Delta.
Her parents separated when she met her biological father for the first time at 14.
She attended Southwark College, London, where she took a summer class in Theatre Arts.
Big Brother Africa
At the beginning of the show, she was perceived as a wildcard that reduced Nigeria’s chance of clinching victory.
Followers of the show believed that her persona was uncouth, brash and lacked the class and panache that previous winners, Kevin Pam and Uti Nwachukwu, were known for.
But week after week, she maintained her grip with the audience, keeping her in the house until she was eventually crowned the winner.
Following her run and eventual victory in the house, Karen found fame, especially in the Nigerian entertainment space.
Her outspoken and somewhat controversial persona endeared her to the Nigerian media.
The fame that came with the victory saw Igho placing her hand in so many pies, including movies, music, and radio presenting, among others.
One thing that kept Igho in the limelight was the news surrounding her breast implants.
She repeatedly explained that she found lumps in her breast and, to forestall cancer, opted for implants.
Even though she repeatedly claimed it was a life or death decision for her, critics said it was a convenient excuse to enlarge her breasts.
She also had difficulty convincing people that she didn’t put the news out to gain sympathy for winning the BBA reality show.
“People must understand that I didn’t do it to impress anybody. I did it for me.
“When I did it, I was young, and I had lumps; they took out some tissues, and in the process, my breasts were reduced.
“At that time and age, I was insecure that I had lumps that could develop into cancer, and my boobs were small, so I went to get implants.
“They are not even that big; sometimes it is my bra that makes them big, and people would be talking about my breasts like they have never seen breasts before.
“I didn’t do it for anybody. It was for me and because of the way I felt,” she said in a later interview
In 2018, she hinted that she had taken out the silicon in a tweet which she later deleted.
Karen vs cyberbullies
In 2013, Igho took to Twitter to reveal that she had cancer.
The response to her tweet seems to angle toward the belief that she was about to go for breast enlargement again.
It wasn’t the first time she would be experiencing such a backlash from internet users.
In an emotion-laden tweet, she wrote: “I have cancer. Are you guys happy? I will be undergoing treatment soon. Lord, I commit my life into your hand.
“I told the whole world about my lump, and I get bullied every day for being truthful.”
Music, other career paths
Before bowing out of the spotlight finally, Igho tried her hands at many things.
The ex-BBA housemate recorded a single with her younger brother Fresh Kiddo.
Back then, her brother was signed to Mikel Obi’s MMM records.
Since her exit from the Big Brother house, Igho has delved into various aspects of the entertainment business.
She’s featured in a few movies like ‘Blackberry Babes Reloaded’. She also hosted a show on Naija FM, ‘Wetin dey’ with on-air-personality, Ifektive.
She made her acting debut in the M-Net hit series “Tinsel.
In the years to follow, the reality star married her long-time fiancé, Yaroslav Rakos and promptly changed her name to Karen Igho-Rakos.
They married at a private ceremony in Jos, Plateau State, in 2014. The couple welcomed their kids in 2015 and 2017.
Upon relocating to the United States of America, Karen attempted to break into Hollywood with an appearance in a romantic comedy-drama, ‘And Just Like That.’
She currently lives in the US and has been involved in several movie projects.