Rita Ora explains her reasons why she decided to join the judging panel on The X Factor and talks about her close friendship with Nick Grimshaw. The X Factor can be seen Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm on ITV.
How did you joining the show come about?
There’s always been the hearsay of whether or not I’ll do it for the past three or four years in the papers. But it was all about timing for me. X Factor is a big deal to me, I wanted to make sure I was ready for it. There was a lot to do with my schedule, my music career and all that. I wanted to make sure the focus is fair on each job that I take on. It was coming closer to filming and Simon wanted to meet, the only time he could meet was at midnight. I was coming back from a show and he was filming Britain’s Got Talent. We had some green tea and spoke about it. He told me about all the upcoming changes and what they are doing differently, you know, the different perspective they are giving X Factor. I’m a fan of it, I always have been. Being a guest judge in 2012 was so much fun and I missed that.
Did you have any reservations about doing the show?
I didn’t have any reservations, I just had some queries. I wanted to get the low down before I got into it. My main concern was to make sure I could do a good job as a judge, to make sure I could really help the contestants - that’s all I care about. For me, it’s not about us, it’s not about the judges, it’s about the contestants. If I can help them then I want to make sure I can do a good job. Is my experience enough? Will I have enough time? All those questions were going through my head and we made it work. Being a 24 year old in the now, still releasing music while being on X Factor, is very helpful for the contestants.
Was it also helpful that Nick was joining the panel as well this year?
It was a definite bump up in my decision because he’s one of my best friends, so for me, having a best friend on the panel next to me definitely made me think. I had a few chats with Grimmy about it, explained to him what I was worried or excited about and there were more pros than cons.
You have a great friendship, he teases you a lot though!
The one thing Grimmy and I said to each other is that we didn’t want to change how we are normally with each other just because we’re on TV. I was like, ‘OK, great’, because I didn’t want it to get weird. And it didn’t, it actually got even better. Having Grimmy makes me feel that I can say things that I usually say in our private life, and Grimmy having me makes him feel like he can say the jokes he thinks other people might not get because he knows I’ll get them. We balance each other out. I think Cheryl’s slowly coming onto our side though. Simon’s just being left alone in the corner!
Nick has been stitching you up though by giving you the wrong answers to questions...
He does it all the time! I think he does it because he finds it so funny and entertaining. I’m like, ‘I’m not your walking TV!’ He does it even when we’re at home and stu ff , he makes me do things and then he just laughs. I don’t get mad, I just feel like the trust is not happening anymore! I trust him with all my heart and soul, but now Cheryl’s started playing on it too. I’m like, ‘How can you be telling me the wrong thing when I already look silly!’. I don’t mind making jokes out of myself, it’s part of who I am, I don’t take myself too seriously.
Your geography and metaphors are the things they’ve been teasing you about...
I know! But in my defence, geography has never been my forte. I have never actually ever done a class of geography in my life. When I went to school, I went to a theatre school, and we got to pick our academic classes. I did art, science, maths, history and maybe citizenship. I didn’t really focus! Then on Thursdays and Fridays we would do dance and singing, so give me a break...please! At least I am asking questions. Some people wouldn’t ask them and then just pretend. I don’t want to pretend.
Are you pleased people will see more of your personality now?
I’m really excited because I think people change their perspective of a person when you get to know them. After every interview I do people are like, ‘I didn’t expect you to be like that’. Yes it’s a bit daunting because you are putting your whole life on TV every Saturday night, but then it’s like, if you don’t fake it, you’ll be alright. I’m just going to be myself.
You are certainly bringing the sex factor to the series...
I’ll take that! The thing is, even when I am at home, I really play on the flirty thing. I do it as a joke and I think some people think it’s serious. I just do it because it makes them feel uncomfortable. For me, it’s like if you can handle me flirting then you can handle being on The X Factor. I’m very intense and I am very forward, it’s very ‘get to the point’ with me. That’s a minor thing in this industry, trust me. So I just do it for some fun, it takes the pressure off.
The guys are certainly flirting with you...
Are they? I think it’s because I instigate it! I don’t think they go into it thinking, ‘I’m going to flirt with Rita’. Once I start instigating it they get more comfortable. My aim is to get them comfortable, to get the pressure off them, if I can, and then hopefully they will do a better audition.
One guy got you up dancing, you were really going for it!
That was hilarious because it was a Justin Timberlake song, which is my favourite song. I was happy to get up and dance.
How are you finding it on the panel with the other judges?
There was a moment when it really hit me, I stuck to my guns about this singer who was from Canada. Both me and Simon said no. I nearly did say yes because of the pressure from the crowd. For the first time I thought, ‘Do you know what, I’m doing her a favour if I don’t put her through compared to the other females we’ve had’. In that moment in time I had a lot of power, it was a little overwhelming for me because it’s literally about changing someone’s life. For that ten seconds I just thought to myself, ‘Woah!’. Simon was like, ‘It’s alright, everyone has that moment when you realise this could really make or break someone’.
People will be looking to pit you against Cheryl as the only two females on the panel, how do you feel about that?
I actually think for the first time in a long time, that’s not going to happen. I think that once you start watching the show it won’t even be possible. We have banter, Cheryl’s a girl's girl, she was in a girlband and she knows how to act around women and the sensitiveness and all that. I’m more of a guy, I’m like a tomboy. I don’t get emotional easily. I don’t get offended easily; it takes a lot for me to be really hurt by something. I was grateful that there was another female on the panel, it made me feel more comfortable.
There’s going to be style wars with Cheryl though, right?
I think we clearly have very different tastes in clothes. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I’m a bit crazier when it comes to my dress sense. So I don’t think we will have to worry about that at all.
Courtesy of itv