Artistic director Kevin Dowsett tells us what Gemma Collins 
was REALLY like at theatre 
school ahead of her DOI debut…

As self-confessed ‘diva’ Gemma Collins prepares to get her skates on for Dancing On Ice 2019, we 
can reveal that the TOWIE star has never been frightened of speaking her mind – even 
when she was eight years old.


Young Gemma attended TheatreTrain (1989-1995) where she spent three hours every Saturday doing dance, drama and singing lessons.
We caught up with her former teacher, Kevin Dowsett, 66, who tells us, ‘She’s never been shy in her life.’
He explained, ‘Most adolescents go through a period of self-consciousness but “brash” is a good word to describe Gemma. She wasn’t frightened of saying 
what she thought to anyone. There’s a kind of integrity and honesty in that… she was born ready to get on the stage, 
nothing could hold her back.’

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Before Gemma, 37, joined TOWIE in 2011, Kevin says he received a ‘funny’ call from her asking, ‘I’ve decided to be an actor. What do I have to do?’ 
to which he replied, ‘You’re a one-off. Be yourself darling!’
And the rest is history.

So, as Gemma prepares to face the sharp tongue of DOI judge 
Jason Gardiner – who’ll be watching her every ice move – 
will the GC suffer a meltdown?
She quit ‘I’m A Celebrity…’ in 2014 after 72 hours in the jungle and threatened to walk out of Celebrity Big Brother just days before having an epic rant over her ‘Essex blow-dry’ but Kevin says, ‘People can be crushed by throwaway remarks, but being a performer since she was a kid has made Gemma quite gritty inside.

‘I hope she gives Jason as good as she gets – she won’t suffer fools gladly. I don’t think she’d crack. But you never know!’
Beneath her tough exterior, there’s another side to Gemma.
‘She was disciplined,’ recalls Kevin. ‘She had good habits and wasn’t an egotistical student.’

Gemma – who will join Richard Blackwood, Brian McFadden, James Jordan and Saira Khan on the ice – revealed last week she’s aware of the ‘grafting’ that lies ahead.
‘I know how hard it is,’ she says. ‘I’ve done my research! I am scared, I am nervous. 
I really want to give it a go. I love the costumes. 
I love the fun factor!’
And Gemma’s not the only one who’s worried.

When we asked Kevin if Gemma will struggle compared to tiny dancers, he says, ‘Yeah, of course she will. When I knew her, she was slim, she wasn’t the Gemma you see today. I didn’t know she could skate.’ And he has some advice.
‘Tapping into your own emotions is more important than getting the steps right. I wish her well. I hope she doesn’t fall!’
With Gemma’s experience 
of taking a tumble, we’re sure she’ll manage to style it out!