She is a fourth year Law student at the University of Botswana (UB) and while it will probably take a bit longer before she graces the courts, Neelo Oppedal wants to change people’s mind-set about fitness. As the local ambassador for USN, Oppedal hopes to dispel misconceptions about the body building and protein supplements.
Not long ago as a student at Kgaswe High School in Palapye the 22 year old may have brushed aside any talk of landing herself an endorsement deal. “I have always wanted to be a lawyer,” she tells Lifestyle. Her love for the profession, she says, was fuelled by watching various legal dramas on television. But as much as she loved law she always felt the urge to explore her “creative” side. She would borrow a friend’s camera and start taking random pictures.
She had aspirations to work in the media especially TV and radio. “School can be a bit too monotonous,” she says. In 2009 she landed an internship opportunity at Yarona FM and learned a thing or two about the industry. Five years later in 2014 Yarona FM ran a ‘fan experience’ competition where winners would get an opportunity to interview local artists and celebrities at their inaugural music awards ceremony (YAMAs). “My audition was successful and I got to do live interviews on radio.” Oppedal also landed a role as a presenter for production company, Dee Zone’s ‘Pula Power’, a youth edutainment programme airing on Btv. She hosted a segment called ‘Katch Up’. She hails Dee Zone’s Thabiso Maretlwaneng as a great mentor and inspiration.
While still with Pula Power a friend recommended her for the ambassadorial role at USN for which she was eventually considered. “It presented a great opportunity to take my fitness to the next level,” She says. Part of her responsibility, Oppedal tells Lifestyle, is to “bust up the myths” surrounding USN products. “We want to change people’s perception that USN products are for building strong muscles such as those of professional body builders,” she says. “We also want people to know USN is a comprehensive healthy lifestyle nutrition supplement that is suitable for both men and women. The supplements allow your body to utilize fat as an energy source more easily and this greatly assists women aiming to lose weight and stay trim.”
She says it was partly for this reason that the company chose to have a young female ambassador who is not a body builder. “That is why they have Boity Thulo as their brand ambassador in South Africa,” she says. Oppedal says being a USN ambassador comes with great responsibility to take fitness seriously in order to be seen to be walking the talk. “I have to look the part,” she says, adding, “I wanna be an example to young women that they don’t have to be a certain age or weight in order for them to start taking fitness seriously and choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.” She says her excitement upon landing the endorsement deal was short-lived when she remembered the responsibility that comes with the job. “But I am not complaining,” she says. With a healthy lifestyle you get to live better and age better.”
She says she takes supplements according to recommendations from a nutritionist. “Suitable supplements vary from one individual to another.” Meanwhile Oppedal is on internship at Chibanda Makgalemele & Co attorneys. “I love the fact that it is dominated by women because I’m all about women empowerment.” She says however that she is still not sure if she wants to practice law when she finishes school. “I take my law studies and my other aspirations seriously. Law school is very demanding and it makes juggling the two very difficult. Oppedal is also a part time model. “I usually work with Aobakwe Molosiwa whose designs I find very beautiful and inspiring. But don’t expect to see me on the runway. I don’t have the height for it.”