Nigerian movie industry dirty, says Linda Clems

By Alayande Dayo
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Many still remember Linda Clems as the Last Girl Standing during the Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS 3). Not only did the English Language graduate of the University of Abuja beat the other ladies to the crown, she stirred up emotions with her attitude all through the duration of the contest. Clems, an actress, for all those who watched the GUS 3, is not one to hide her feelings, not minding whose ox is gored. Correspondent, Kemi Yesufu caught up with her for this exciting chat on the Ultimate Search, her love life and the movie industry.

The Gulder Ultimate Search V has just come to a conclusion. Viewers saw the rigours the contestants had been put through. Most contestants were in the game either for fame or the cash prize. As someone who participated in 2006, would you say the stress was really worth it? Do people still recognise you on the streets?

I think it matters on the personality of the contestant because till today most people still recognise me as the last girl standing in 2006. It is few people who pick my face from the movies I have done. People still call me 'Linda Ultimate Search.' So, for me it is more about the way you carry yourself during the show that counts when it's over. I can say that even Hector, the last man standing in 2006, I don't think people recognise him as much as they do with me. If a contestant carries herself well, makes sure that she is heard, even in ten years' time, people will still recognise her. That doesn't mean that one has to go into the competition with the goal of being controversial, because I was just being myself.

You were quite controversial during GUS 3. You certainly know that many people will find it hard to believe that you did not go into the contest with the goal of making yourself unforgettable.

It was not like I did the things I did for lasting recognition. I was just being me. And for the fact that I was already into movies before I was made into the Ultimate Search, facing the camera was no big deal. The other contestants tried so hard not do certain things on camera, on national TV, but I was just being myself. In the first place, I am someone who can't pretend for long time, most especially as we were somewhere we went through a lot of stress, in a place where we were tensed up and hungry. It was hectic. So no matter how much I could have pretended, the real me was bound to come out.

You are therefore saying in a nutshell that you are not the controversial bitchy girl some people thought you were. I say this because when the other girl was evicted from the search, you jumped for joy because her exit automatically made you the last girl standing.

I was only being real; I was not in the competition to make friends. I had many friends already. I was in the competition for the price money and what it could do for my career as an actress. There is no one who is in GUS search and when someone else not he or she is evicted that will honestly say that he or she wasn't excited over it. The contest is a game, which at certain points somebody must leave. When the person is picked and it's not me. I said halleluyah that it's not me. I don't think I am bitchy. People close to me know and nobody has ever described me a bitchy girl. Some people say I am a snub, but I know that I am, most times, a friendly person. You can't be nice and jovial all the times. But I guess that most times when people recognise your face from a movie or a show, they want you to be happy to meet new people at all times. They want you to relate with them like your close friends. Some people met me and said "Lynda, that stupid film you did. Why did you behave like that." For goodness sake, celebrities are human beings, they have their moods and when, like some people do in Nigeria, they approach celebrities like their pals and they don't react accordingly, they go telling people that the celebrities are snubs. But they wouldn't tell their friends how exactly they approached the celebrity.

Some people say you were a pain in the neck at the GUS 3 camp.

Really? Honestly, I am not bothered by what people said, I was only being my self. And if I am to do it all over again, I will be the same Linda they watched, because I was only being myself.

A large number of viewers said you struggled with the swimming tasks in 2006. The next year rather unfortunately, a contestant died in the river. How did you feel when this happened?

I cried. I felt bad. Truly, I struggled with the tasks that had to do with swimming. I don't think I will take such a risk again. I will not advise anybody to take such a risk either. Gulder Ultimate Search is not, in anyway, stage- managed. It is hundred percent reality TV show. Nobody helped me when I struggled with my swimming, in fact, I was crying. What I did was to move to the safer side of the river where the current was not so speedy. I am not sure if our instructors noticed that I have difficult time with the swimming. But I guess you know that the contestant who died last year was the best swimmer. I must add that in the Gulder Ultimate Search it is better when you follow instructions. That helped me during the swimming task.

During the search did you have moments where you just wanted to walk away because the stress was becoming unbearable?

Yes, many times. There was a day I woke up crying. I was very hungry it was like I was going to die. I was saying I wanted to leave the camp. In situations like that the producers will wait until it is time for your daily interview so you could tell the audience yourself that you want to leave. As I said earlier nothing is stage-managed during the search. But when it was time for my interview, I said to myself that I came here for a purpose and I wasn't going to let myself down. So I did not announce my wish to make an exit. Sometimes we were given tasks that were so tedious; I wondered how I was going to survive. But at the end of the day I scaled through.

You scaled through, but a greater number of the fans of the GUS argue that a woman cannot win the competition. What is your take?

I will say yes and no. Yes, because in the real sense of it, Gulder is a man's drink, girls hardly drink it. I don't think that a girl can convincingly sell the Gulder brand like a guy will. No, in the sense there are girls who can do all of the tasks to the very last stage. For me, if I could, I would have loved to make it into the final stage. So, you never can tell, one season, a woman may just win the coveted reality show.

How did you spend your cash prize, over a million naira?

I spent it wisely. I don't think I am doing badly. So my cash prize was well spent.

We spoke the months after the GUS 3, we talked about your future and you said you wanted to marry a pastor and raise a family. From the look of things that hasn't happened, why?

(Laughter)This is an unfair question.

Okay, you're not married to a pastor but are you in a relationship?

I have so many friends from the opposite sex, so I can't really say that I am in relationship with any of them. I just have good friends around me.

This is the regular answer from actresses, beauty queens and females in the limelight.

So what do you want me to tell you?

I want you to tell me the truth.

The truth is what I have told you. I have male friends around me but I am not committed to any of them.

Don't you get lonely?

Of course yes. I get lonely, I am a human being, a woman, and I have got emotions.

Then why can't you choose one of your male friends as your boyfriend?

For everyone, we set criteria for whatever we want. It is not that amongst my friends there is no one good enough for me, but the right man hasn't found me. Sometimes, I think, I get a little difficult for guys to handle. So only a guy who is strong can handle me, because I am one independent woman.

This is probably because you're still in your twenties; you have age on your side, you can afford to call the bluff of any guy who wants to control you.

I don't think it's about my age. It is more about my upbringing, the family I come from. It has to do with what I witnessed my friends going through in their relationships. It also has to do with my religious beliefs; I believe that you don't have to be desperate about anything. There are whole lot of things that one considers before getting into a relationship. It's not all about age. I believe that I just have to be myself that when the right person comes at whatever age, things will be okay. Right now, I am not even talking about marriage. For me, the first thing is to have a good relationship.

I get the feeling I am speaking with an over pampered only child.

I am not a spoilt only child. My mother is a strict disciplinarian. My mum doesn't call me sweet names; my dad does that some times. I had a strict upbringing. Though I am an only child, I am not spoilt.

Do you feel bad when you see your friends with their siblings?

Yes, I feel very bad. Most of the times I wish to share some things with a sibling and there is nobody here for me. When friends disappoint me, I say to myself, after all she is not my sister or he is not my brother.

Judging by your looks and carriage, after the GUS every one thought you were going to become the next Genevieve (Nnaji). There were speculations that you would blow up in Nollywood. Why hasn't this happened?

I don't understand what you mean by blowing up. You know quite well that I was already acting before the Ultimate Search. After GUS 3, I have done a number of movies with better roles and higher fees. I need to say that I can never be the next Genevieve. I can only be Linda Clems or the next star. Genevieve will continue to be the big star she is. No two people can say that they became big in Nollywood using the same methods. We all know how our industry is; I am not ready to do certain things. I believe that I am a talented actress and any role I get should be by merit.

Are you saying that the actresses that made it big did so using means other than their talent?

This is not what I mean. But you and Nigerians know that the industry is dirty; some times people do indecent things just to make it big. One needs to keep his head up high, and do the right things so that one day, nobody tells you "what are you talking about, we know how you started." I am not in a hurry. I am taking my time. In the real sense of it, I have never been so crazy about acting. I am more into film making than acting. If I get the opportunity I hope to study film making. I am more passionate about cinematography. I, and a whole lot of other actors are not happy with the way some producers go about their movies. It is all about doing what you want, taking the bulls by the horn, so nobody tells you nonsense or invites you to a hotel room just because you want a role. You have to take your destiny into your hands such that nobody tries any hanky panky with you.

You sound like somebody had tried playing hanky panky with you?

I won't mention names, and I won't say yes or no.

From what you have said so far I fear you won't be getting a role soon.

You are not correct; there are producers, marketers who carry themselves with dignity. If I hear they are calling for auditions, I am sure to go and if I do well, they will cast me in their films. Nobody is an angel but there are directors, producers who respect themselves. They know what they want.

You're always in short stuff like the gown you're wearing. It's like you love wearing sexy out fits. What determines what you wear?

I don't tell myself that I am fashionable. I just try to look good at all times.