Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon has been a popular figure on TV, staring on the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing and now a judge on Britains Got Talent but Alesha has struggled for many years to overcome prejudices over race and gender.

I did an interview with a magazine once and the journalist quite openly said they wouldn’t put a black person on the front cover because the magazine wouldn’t sell

Alesha Dixon feels black women are still very much underrepresented on our TV screens today. Speaking exclusively to Cosmopolitan about racial prejudice, she states:

“… There still aren't many black women on prime-time TV… Times are changing, but it’s interesting we’re in 2013 and still experiencing firsts… Hopefully in the next 100 years things will balance even more. Britain is an amazing multicultural place to live in, and that should be celebrated and represented.”

Speaking from first-hand experience she reveals racism still exists in the world of showbiz:

“Sadly, I’ve learnt that prejudice still exists in parts of the entertainment industry – I did an interview with a magazine once and the journalist quite openly said they wouldn’t put a black person on the front cover because the magazine wouldn’t sell. It made me angry because it shouldn’t be about the colour of the person’s skin, it should be about the person.”

When Alesha was first made a judge on Strictly Come Dancing she states the BBC were refreshingly honest about having her on the show:

“When I joined the Strictly Come Dancing panel in 2009, the controller of the BBC came into my dressing room and said they were proud to have a woman of colour on their panel. It was so nice that they acknowledged it.”

Alesha Dixon

Opening up about her childhood, she admits she was aware of prejudice from a young age. But, in true Alesha style, she refused to let other people’s ignorance stand in the way of success:

“I grew up in Welwyn Garden City and, when you’re a woman of colour in a predominantly white area, you become aware of prejudice from a young age. I was the only mixed-race girl in my school, but for me that was a positive thing; it made me unique. If it wasn’t for spending time with the black side of my family, perhaps I may have felt like an outcast, but I never did.”

Growing up she states she missed having a female ethnic role model to look up to:

“There were very few British black women on TV or in music when I was a teenager; when you’re growing up you need someone you can identify with. I remember at Christmas being bought a doll that didn’t look anything like me so I threw it away. When I saw Neneh Cherry singing on TV I was so glad that there was someone of the same ethnicity – and with the same curly hair – for me to look up to.”

Her father predicted she would never get anywhere in the British music industry because of the colour of her skin, but that just made her all the more determined:

“When I first told my dad I wanted to be a singer, he said, ‘What makes you think you’re going to succeed? Black people from this country don’t succeed.’ I remember that conversation as if it was yesterday because he was right – if you looked at the UK charts at the time there weren’t many black British artists selling records… But I’ve always said you can’t use colour as an excuse… I had to do what was right for me. In a way that gave me the determination to work harder. “

Alesha Dixon

“When we formed Mis-Teeq we were struggling for money for five years… We took a risk and we worked hard to pull it off… We were a minority and a girl group against the odds. We never had loads of money thrown at us or went to stage school. That made success so much sweeter.”

Since turning 30, Alesha admits she’s never been better and is looking forward to what the future brings:

“Since I turned 30, I’ve never felt better in my own skin. I feel positive about getting older. I don’t worry about the future because that will take care of itself. I don’t carry around past baggage because what’s that going to do for me? We only have now…. The fact that I’m still working in the industry now, 10 years on, is something I’m so thankful for. There is no door you can’t open.”

Alesha Dixon BGT auditions

The full interview appears in the May issue of Cosmopolitan, on sale 4th April

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