X-Factor's Alexandra Burke Recalls Being Told to "Bleach" Her Skin

X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke detailed her experiences in the music industry in an emotional Instagram video.

By Alyssa Morin Jun 20, 2020 9:31 PMTags
Alexandra BurkeMark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Alexandra Burke is sharing her story.

The X-Factor star, who won the singing competition series in season five, detailed her experience in the music industry in a 15-minute Instagram video.

"I've just been really frightened to speak my truth. Speak about my experiences within in the industry," she began her IGTV. "This isn't a video to bash anyone... this is simply me speaking about what I've been through in the past 11 years, and feeling like I'm not ashamed to speak about it."

"The first experience that comes to my mind was when I was 16," she recalled. "I went to the X-Factor twice, when I was 16 and when I was 19. And when I was 16 years old, I made it down to the judges' houses and this person said to me, 'You haven't made it through, but give me a call in a couple of months and I'll sign you.'"

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"I remember calling this particular person and saying to him, 'I'm in a position where I'm ready to start working, I'm eager, I'm good to go' and the response that I got was, 'I already have one Black artist. I don't need another,'" she continued. "I wasn't sure how to take that, to be honest. I still have to really take that in, even now, many years later. It really, really sucked to hear those words."

Alexandra never specifically named the person who she had that conversation with as a teenager.

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"I love singing and I love what I do, but if it wasn't for the love that I have with music, I definitely wouldn't be in this industry," she said. "A few reasons are, I got told when I first won the X-Factor at 19... 'Because you're Black, you are gonna have to work 10 times harder than a white artist because of the color of your skin.'"

She said she was also told, "'You can't have braids, you can't have an Afro... you have to have hair, for example, that appeals to white people.'"

"I got told to bleach my skin, and that was something I refused to do. Because it's just so absurd to me that somebody could even remotely say to someone, 'Bleach your skin, so that you could look whiter," she shared. "Still, 'til this moment, it breaks my heart that I was told that. I'm trying to hold back the tears, because it's really heartbreaking, the s--t that went on."

She added, "I was only 19 years old, there's only so much you can understand when your life [has] completely changed overnight. That was quite hard to digest."

Moreover, the songstress explained the "microaggressions" she's experienced throughout her career.

"I've been told from previous management companies, 'You have to smile more on your Instagram because you come across aggressive. You can't have baby hairs showing on any hairstyle that you do because you come across as aggressive,'" she recalled.

Alexandra not only detailed her experiences in the music industry, but also in television. She shared the things she encountered during her time on the BBC dancing show, Strictly Come Dancing in 2017.

She remembered having to do press the day after her mother's death, which she said she hadn't revealed to anyone outside her family at the time. While on the red carpet, she remembered her interaction with a journalist.

"'So you're not doing press. Being a diva today are we,'" Alexandra claimed the journalist told her, who she didn't specifically name.

"That was the image they had of me because of papers, particularly one journalist," she explained. "I was so scared on that show, because if I spoke out, [then it was like] she's playing the victim card. If I was happy, [then it was like] how come she's so happy, she's just lost her mum... that's the kind of comments I was getting daily."

Adding, "I have no idea how I got through it. I don't even like thinking about that experience."

Because of the Black Lives Matter movement and fellow X-Factor contestants, like Misha B, sharing their experiences, Alexandra said she felt encouraged to finally open up about her own.

She explained that the truth is "all we've got," and hopes that by revealing her story, it "inspire others to speak their truth."