“Be kind, be you” says former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Asanda Jezile
After receiving rave reviews at the age of 11 when she wowed the judges and captured the hearts of the nation with a series of show-stopping performances on the hit ITV talent show, Asanda Jezile made it all the way to the live grand final attracting over 13 million TV viewers.
Seven years later, Asanda, who has just turned 18, has launched her much anticipated debut single ‘Photogenic’. Citing British urban powerhouse Stormzy and female MC Steff London as inspiration, Asanda hopes that her inspiring, self-confidence fuelled lyrics will become the soundtrack to the lives of young people at a time when the “be kind” message has never more relevant. “We love to capture every moment of our life and look back through the memories in years to come. We all want to look good on the outside, but being photogenic is about inner beauty and confidence as well. In today’s world of social media, you have to be confident in yourself as there’s so much negativity and judgment online”, she says.
Asanda is no stranger to criticism after dividing opinion online following her first televised BGT audition. Her cover of ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna with its provocative lyrics was praised by many including the star judging panel consisting of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon & David Walliams however some viewers criticized the performance for being too mature for someone who was so young, especially given the sexualized theme of the track.
Despite the controversy her first audition caused, Asanda stormed the semi-finals with a show-stopping performance of ‘Halo’ by Beyonce leading to Alesha Dixon describing the performance in just one word – “wow” and Simon Cowell stating that Asanda had brought the “wow factor” to the competition. This performance was enough to get Asanda to the finals, a feat achieved by only a few young people before her. Since the experience, Asanda has performed at events and venues across the world alongside Nicole Sherzinger, Ricky Martin, and Little Mix amongst a raft of industry names.
Speaking out on why the talent show inspired her the write ‘Photogenic’, Asanda said, “I had a lot of negative comments after my BGT performance, but I was just being real. At the time ‘Diamonds’ was one of my favorite songs, and Rihanna is an artist who I truly respect, so why wouldn’t I want to perform it on national TV? I totally understand why some people may have thought that I was pushed into singing that song by the TV company, but the negativity taught me that even if you do the right thing you’ll never be able to please everyone. ‘Photogenic’ is my way of saying “this is me, I don’t care what you think, I’m proud and I’m confident of who I am, I hope you like it, but if you don’t – that’s fine too.”
Like many young people her age, Asanda was moved by the tragedy of Caroline Flack’s suicide earlier this year. She wants to use her voice as an artist to inspire young people to ‘be kind, be you’. “There is so much negativity online, but it’s just people’s opinions. When you read something about you it can be really hurtful. So with this song being about confidence and being ‘photogenic’, I hope that it gives everyone who is on the receiving end of any online negativity a little bit of extra strength” said a defiant Asanda.
Later this year Asanda is planning to take her “be kind, be you” message into schools as part of a nationwide initiative raising awareness of cyberbullying and online safety.
‘Photogenic’ is out now on all major platforms.
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