This series of The X Factor is being called the most ‘brutal’ yet – would you agree?
They’re really shaking things up. I’m still not even sure how some of the new things are going to work, but it’ll be completely unexpected for the viewer. This series won’t be predictable, but I think that makes it more exciting. It’s nice to shake things up.
Do you get nervous before the live shows?
I get extremely nervous, even after all these years. As a singer, I feel much more comfortable performing on stage than I do speaking. I find myself talking and thinking, what am I saying?! I try and focus my energy on the contestants and making sure they’re okay, but the nerves always creep in. It’s very exciting too, though.
Everyone says you’re the most hands-on judge – do you get nervous for your contestants?
Not so much, I’m just nervous because I’m an artist and I’m not as comfortable in a judging capacity as I am singing. I always feel confident for my acts because I make sure I’ve had enough time with them during the week so that we’re all confident they’re ready to go on a Saturday night.
Will the judges be keeping your tradition alive of going for dinner after the Sunday night results show?
Of course! We do it as much as we can. We always eat super late because we wait until after the show has finished filming to go, but it works okay as we’re all night owls. I’d love to be the sort of person who wakes up to watch the sun rise, but that’s usually when I’m going to bed.
How has your judging style changed over your years on the show?
The core of what I do is still the same – I listen to my heart and my gut. I make judgements based on my experience and my knowledge of the industry, which I have a lot of from all my years performing. I have very well-rounded, diverse experiences to pull from. However, I’ve probably got a bit harder over the years. When I first started doing the show I would cry all the time because I didn’t know how to say no to people. I was so sensitive. Now I’m a bit more willing to tell people that this business isn’t for them. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if I don’t think it’s right for them. It’s not fair to give people false hope, so it’s important to be tough with them.
Traditionally the Overs category tends to be the one the judges don’t want – how did you feel when you heard they were your group?
I really hate the name Overs. I told The X Factor producers that I want to change it to the Sexies. Whenever you say you have the Overs, people are like: ‘Meh.’ And I’m like: ‘Come on guys, they’re not in their nineties!’ The category is 28 years and up, they’re still young.
So were you keen to have the Overs as your category?
Yes, because I’ve never worked with that category before. I don’t want to do the same things over and over, I wanted to switch it up. There’s a lot to be said for the Overs because they have more life experience, so they bring more meaning and depth to the competition.
You got tonsillitis while filming Judges’ Houses in Cape Town – what happened?
I think I was just working a lot and travelling a lot and I got really run down. I didn’t feel myself and I was trying my best to fake it while we were filming, but they ended up having to put me on an IV drip. The show isn’t about me, it’s about the contestants, so I tried to power through and do a good job. I feel much better now, though.
Louis Walsh has said that he and Sharon Osbourne are already signed up for next year’s show – will you be back too?
I never know what’s going to happen, but The X Factor feels like family to me, I love it, so most likely I will come back. I’ve been asked to return and I’m hopeful we can make it work. The show is too much fun for me to not come back, I love this job and I love this country.
You’re a fan of meditating, do you ever do it behind the scenes at The X Factor?
Meditating requires you to take a lot of time to get into it, so it’s actually something I’m trying to do more of at the moment. I sometimes do a little meditation before heading to the studios, but my usual routine is to get up and go for a run. I can run anywhere. Last year I stayed next to Hyde Park, so I used to run around there and recently I went for a run around Westminster. The live shows mean a lot to me and they mean a lot to my contestants, so it’s really important that I’m present and able to give them my all and running really helps to clear my head. People get excited for the live shows, so I want to make sure I’m in a position to show up and do my best.
Do people recognise you when you go running in public?
Sometimes, but I have my sunglasses on and a hat and I run pretty quick so people can’t catch up with me!
Have you ever tried to get the other judges into meditating?
No, but I really should. That would be hilarious!
Where do you work out when you’re in London?
As well as running I usually have a personal trainer, but I’m keen to try some classes this time around. I try to work out every morning – it sets me up for the day.
Do you ever set yourself fitness or body goals?
It depends what I’m preparing for. If I’m working out ahead of a tour I concentrate on getting my stamina up, but if I’m doing it before filming a music video, I do it to make a difference physically. Really, though, I work out to put myself in a good frame of mind. It gets my natural endorphins going and puts me in a good head space. I recommend exercising to everyone because it can turn your day around. I really notice it if I go a day without it. Working out helps me feel like I’m on top of things.
Where do you stay when you’re in London?
I used to stay in a hotel but I didn’t love that because there wasn’t much privacy and I like having my own kitchen, so this year I’m renting an apartment.
Do you enjoy cooking?
I don’t cook very often but when I do I make sure it’s the best. My favourite thing about being in the UK is going for a Sunday roast. It reminds me of Thanksgiving. I can’t go for one when we’re filming the live shows, though, or I’d have to waddle into the studios. It would make me so sleepy too because I don’t know how to do small portions – I pile it all on.
What sort of things do you like watching on TV when you’re chilling out?
I never watch TV. I wish I could, but my brain just doesn’t work like that. I take it all very seriously, I believe in everything that’s going on and I end up crying or getting really angry. The only time I ever sit down and watch a box set is when I’m travelling on a plane. As an actress it’s important to stay on top of the things that are out there and to see how they’re being filmed. I have a few televisions at home but I don’t even know how they work.
We hear that you recently moved into a new house…
I’ve been without somewhere to live for two years because my last house flooded so I had to move out. I’ve built somewhere
new in Los Angeles, but it’s a work in progress, there’s still a lot to do. I recently had two weeks downtime so I used it to make as many decisions about the house as possible. It’s all I can think about at the moment, just this morning I was researching what type of blinds to have!
Are you planning to release any new music?
I’m always working on new music. Music is my first love and it’s what I was born to do. I also have a few secret projects I’m working on, including something I’m very excited about.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from all your years in the industry?
I’ve become more relaxed about things, that’s for sure. I’ve learnt that it’s important to be authentic because that’s what separates you from everyone else. That’s one of the reasons I’m taking so much time to release new music. It has to come from a truthful and honest place because the industry is so over-saturated at the moment. That’s why when Adele or Sam Smith release music, it really resonates with people, because their music is so honest.
Tell us about your new Müller campaign…
It’s for their new White Velvet yogurt. It’s delicious and will make you enjoy plain yogurt because it’s so creamy-tasting. Müller have a great sense of humour. The adverts I do for them are another extension of my personality because they let me be me, so we do really silly things. There are always unexpected twists in their adverts and a lot of laughs, nothing is taken too seriously.