When Gwendolyn Elohor Okutele with all her po­tential as beauty queen contested the Miss Galaxy Damsel pageant and lost, she never gave up but she focussed on the dream she had as a child which is becoming a cynosure of all eyes. Indeed, today, she has never looked back as she stands tall with her dream accomplished as Miss Face of the Niger Delta and Miss Nolly­wood 2014/2015. In this interview, the Delta State-born beauty queen who has featured in several Nol­lywood movies including Jack and Jill, Men in love, My fantasy and Unthink­able, talks about her star­dom. Excerpts:Could you tell us about yourself ?

I am Gwendolyn Elohor Okutele, an Okpe-born beauty queen of Adagbra­sa-Amukpe extraction in Sapele Lo­cal Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. I’m the first child of my par­ents. I started my education at Tender kiddies Foundation Primary School and attended Davogha Model College both in Sapele Delta State and then proceeded to Government Girls Sec­ondary School, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Subsequently, I attended Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State where studied Mass Communication. At present, I am a 400-level student of Business Admin­istration at Ekiti State University, Ado- Ekiti.

How do you feel about win­ning the contest?

I feel very fulfilled and grateful to Almighty God, because it has always been my dream and desire to be a beauty queen right from childhood.

How long have you been modelling?

I ventured into modelling in 2008 when I first contested the Miss Galaxy Damsel pageant in Lagos State. Though I didn’t win the ultimate crown, I was the 4th runner-up and eventually I won the Miss Amity Award (most friendly contestant). In 2013, I contested the maiden edition of Face of Niger Delta beauty pageant and eventually won the prestigious crown. Again in 2014, I competed and won the maiden edition of Miss Nollywood Nigeria beauty pag­eant which was another first in my ca­reer. The pageant was organised by BK Global Movies and this was the icing on the cake that subsequently opened more modelling and acting opportuni­ties for me.

Tell us about your model­ling background…

Since 2013, my modelling career has grown astronomically and to the ex­tent that I get calls from different mod­elling agencies for one job or the other.

What were your challenges as you prepared for stardom?

I didn’t actually encounter problems d u r i n g training because I was al­ready prepared for l e a r n ­ing and personal devel­opment. Also I am focused. I l i k e to learn d e ­s p i t e whatever experience I must have at­tained in the field. When I meet a new instructor, I learn with an open mind . Besides, I believe anything worth do­ing is worth doing well.

Have you been the face of any brand ?

I would like to keep that personal for now since I am yet to finalise the jobs that have come my way.

Why did you go into model­ling?

I have always dreamt of being in the limelight since childhood. I believe I was born to be an entertainer. I was inspired to contest beauty pageants in 1994 when I first watched Miss World beauty pageant. I told my dad I want­ed to be a model when I grow up and surprisingly he encouraged me. He re­minded and urged me in 2008 to give modelling a trial and here I am today. That’s how it all started. Entertainment is my first love and I love to always be in front of the camera. This encour­aged me to positively impact the so­ciety.

What are you using the platform to achieve or cam­paign for?

I have been using the platform to serve humanity since I am very passionate about charity works. The essence of living is giving, so I regularly visit widows, orphanages, schools, hospitals, remand homes and the prisons to distribute gift items. It gives me joy and a sense of fulfilment .

How did you know about t h i s com­petition?

A friend told me.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in relative obscurity in Sapele, Delta State, Nigeria. Though I was not born with a silver spoon, I was raised in a comfortable and responsi­ble home where I lacked nothing while growing up.

There are lots of other beauty pageants spring­ing up. What distinguishes yours?

Nollywood is a massive brand in the world today and I believe as the gate­way of entertainment in Nigeria, the brand easily stands out from the rest because of its huge name and remark­able leverage. Anywhere in the world Nollywood is mentioned, you will know they are talking of the Nigerian film industry. An ordinary man on the streets knows Nollywood and its sig­nificance.

How many models con­tested the pageant and what gave you an edge over oth­ers?

I contested with 17 other beautiful girls and what gave me the edge was my intelligence, charisma, leadership qualities, composure and humility.

What were the criteria for selecting the winner?

Online votes, camp, rehearsals , character, potentials, composure, leadership, exposure and most im­portantly the combination of beauty, brains and brawn.

What prize were you given?

Miss Nollywood Nigeria pageant has five categories and they are : Miss Nollywood Ni­geria Miss Nollywood I n t e r ­n a ­t i o n a l M o s t Beautiful Girl Nollywood Face of Nollywood Miss Nollywood Culture and Tourism

All 5 crowns are equal and winners got N1m cash each as it was the maid­en edition.

What inspires your passion in this industry?

The need to regularly satiate my originality and difference as a beauty queen.

Aside modelling, what oth­er things do you do?

Acting and motivating the young ones to be the best they can be.

Do you intend veering into Nollywood like other top models are doing right now?

I have already acted in several Nol­lywood movies with the likes of Tonto Dike, John Dumelo, Aki and Pawpaw, Ajibola Dabo, Jim Lawson, late Muna Obiekwe and many others. I will say it’s just the beginning.

What are you most afraid of in modelling?

When I go for auditions and not chosen.

What do you think about wearing bikini and the nu­dity aspect of modelling?

To the best of my knowledge, wear­ing bikini started from the western modelling or pageant industry. For me, I feel comfortable when I wear bi­kini, because it’s also part of the job. A bashful girl can’t be a model.

How do you handle anx­ious moments on the run­way?

I’m inspired by my love and passion for acting and modelling.

What’s your worst embar­rassment in modelling?

None at the moment.