A fun read? Towie's Gemma Collins discusses her new guide to being a diva
The Only Way Is Essex star Gemma Collins talks to Hannah Stephenson about her celebrity life, whether she would pose nude again and how to be a diva
BIG, bold and brassy, Essex girl Gemma Collins has never been backwards in coming forwards, especially when there are headlines to be grabbed.
From a nude shoot for Heat magazine, to a fabricated sex tape story and controversy about her head being Photoshopped on to numerous models' bodies on her clothing website, 'The GC', as she likes to be known, is never far from the spotlight.
The 37-year-old former car saleswoman and Towie bombshell, who burst on to TV screens in the hit series in 2011, has made her name out of a string of reality shows.
She signed up for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2014 – only to quit the jungle just three days in (reportedly the minimum time celebs must stay on the show to get paid), voicing her dissatisfaction with the lack of food, saying: "Even a murderer gets fed three times a day."
She also plunged into the diving show Splash!, and became the seventh housemate to be evicted in series 17 of Celebrity Big Brother in 2016. Now she has brought out a book, called The GC: How To Be A Diva.
Today, after much to-ing and fro-ing on our interview time and date, I finally catch up with Collins, who is keen to know that I've read her new book, even though she herself doesn't seem totally sure about what's in it.
"It's a fun read, isn't it?" she says confidently. "Yes," I say, a little less so.
Amid the froth of the guide, the Romford-born celebrity writes that she was bullied at school because of her outgoing nature and that the bullying continued as she got older. Today, the memory eludes her.
"I've not read that bit in the book, where was that? I've not seen that bit so I can't comment on that." Time to move on.
Was she always ambitious?
"Yeah." Silence. Waiting for the next question.
So, how would she describe a diva?
"I think a diva is used as a negative word. It's more about being a woman and knowing what you want. So many people misuse the word as someone that's a nightmare, but it's not, it's just about an assertive woman who knows exactly what she wants."
The book features numerous pearls of wisdom on the subject, such as: 'A diva knows what she likes, and the things she likes are often pink and are always fabulous.'
The outspoken Towie star admits: "From a young girl, I always knew I wanted to be famous. Mum always wanted me to be famous, so she got her dream in the end."
She says she's recognised all the time when she's out and about. "People say, 'Gemma, we love you!' They start grabbing me and touching me. They go absolutely crazy. When I go out with my mum we know there's going to be pictures. It's just all part and parcel of what I do."
She claims she has two different personas – one is the larger-than-life, bubbly, bold GC, the other is the Gemma Collins when the cameras aren't rolling.
"I'm just a normal girl. I'm quite sweet and normal away from The GC. The GC is, you know, like the Towie character. It all says it in the book. That's the character that's made me famous. The real Gemma is a lot more softer. The GC is a lot more firmer.
Read more: Gemma Collins' trapdoor tumble
"I like being famous," she continues. "Just recently, it's gone to new heights because once I fell off the stage [she fell through a stage live on television in October as she was attempting to present an award at the Radio 1 Teen Awards 2017], it's gone really crazy for me. It is full-on but it is fun."
Her on-off relationship with fellow reality TV star James 'Arg' Argent, is currently on – they live together in Brentwood, Essex and have a home in Marbella.
So, what is it about him that she loves?
"I don't know. I ask myself the same thing." Another long pause.
What first attracted her to him?
"I don't know really. I think it was his hair."
She says she wants to get married and have a family in the future.
"Every girl wants that."
So, is Arg 'The One'?
"I don't know. How can you tell? How would you ever know?"
And we're back to the diva guide.
The GC waves the flag for curvy girls and offers an alternative calorie-burning regime, listing how many calories you can burn walking around particular shopping centres. The plaza at the MetroCentre in Tyne and Wear, for example, is 3.5-miles long. Calories burned: 294.
"If you add in the raised heart rate caused by the sight of a bargain and the weight of the bags you carry, it's a full-body workout," she declares.
Body image is not a problem for The GC, although she falters when asked if she'd ever do another nude shoot like the one she did in 2011 for Heat, to prove she was curvy and proud.
"I probably wouldn't do it again now. I don't know if I would. I might do. I don't know if it's something I'd need to do now. I think everyone's seen enough of me for the time being."
:: The GC: How To Be A Diva by Gemma Collins is published by Headline, priced £16.99.