Melanie Amaro: I was miserable after being cut from 'The X Factor'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/23/2011
Melanie Amaro was crowned The X Factor's champion and claimed the $5 million recording contract and the opportunity to star in her own Pepsi commercial during the new Fox reality singing competition's live finale on Thursday night.
The X Factor host Steve Jones revealed that Melanie had won the competition based on the home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's final performance show, which featured the Top 3 finalists each singing two songs -- the first of which was a duet that featured a well-known artist and the second was a solo performance judge Simon Cowell labeled "the five million dollar song" of the whole competition.
Melanie was widely considered The X Factor's frontrunner although she entered the competition having been cut in its early audition stages and asked to come back by her mentor, Simon. The singer had never landed in the bottom two even once during the season, and in the end, Melanie beat out runner-up Josh Krajcik and third-place finisher Chris Rene for the title.
During a Friday conference call with reporters, Melanie, a 19-year-old from Tortola, British Virgin Islands who currently resides in Coral Springs, FL, talked to Reality TV World about her The X Factor victory and overall experience -- including whether she feels Simon's decision to let her go right before the live shows was a genuine mistake or just a deliberate attempt to create some drama for the show.
Reality TV World: Given how excellent of a singer you are, many viewers are skeptical that Simon really made a mistake in choosing to send you home before the live shows and believe it was just some made-for-TV drama he created deliberately. So what's your take on that? Do you believe he made a genuine mistake, or do you think he staged that a little for entertainment purposes?
Melanie Amaro: I really, I don't know. I don't know. All I know is that he made a mistake and he apologized about it and I moved on from it, and look where I am now. So whatever happened in the past is the past and I'm looking towards the future.
Reality TV World: How much time elapsed between when Simon eliminated you and when he showed up at your home in Florida?
Melanie Amaro: I think about two weeks, just about.
Also in the call, Melanie told reporters who she thought her biggest competition was, whether her decision to reveal her accent during one of the performance shows was intentional or a natural reaction, and why she thought she would have failed in the competition with any other mentor besides Simon.
Who did you think was your biggest competition and why?
Melanie Amaro: For me, I thought that Chris Rene was my biggest competition. I don't know, I guess it was just because everyone thought he was -- well not thought, but -- everyone knew that he was an original artist and that he wrote his own music and was original and he connected well with everyone. So I figured that was my biggest competition.
Could you talk about who you were before the competition began and who you are now? How have you grown as a person?
Melanie Amaro: I've grown not only as a person, but I've grown as an artist as well. I've matured and I've really stepped into being my own. I'm growing and I'm learning so much from the industry and from me being in the competition. I've learned a lot and I'm growing and I'm really happy about everything and the opportunities that happened in my life thus far, and I'm really happy with the changes.
Judge L.A. Reid kept trying to push you out of your comfort zone. How did you respond to L.A.'s feedback in comparison to Simon's?
Melanie Amaro: I viewed both of their opinions equally, I guess, and I took it in and I used whatever criticism or opinions that were given to me. I just used them and I used it to improve my performances, you know?
Your turning point in the competition was seemingly the time when you revealed your accent to the public. Was that a calculated decision? What led you to want to show your true colors?
Melanie Amaro: To be honest, that really wasn't planned. (Laughs) Something came over me during that performance, and I said to myself, "You know what? Accept who you are and just be you." And I did. And when I did, that's my accent that just came out. So, it really wasn't planned.
When Simon sent you home before the live shows but then traveled to your house to ask you to be a part of the show, was that a surprise or was that also kind of planned?
Melanie Amaro: That was a total surprise. I had no idea he was coming. I was out of it. I had no clue Simon was coming to my house, and when he showed up, it was like, "Oh my God!"
What did the judges, your family and your friends say to you shortly after your victory was announced last night?
Melanie Amaro: That they're all so very proud of me and I really deserved this and my mentor was so proud. He was more nervous than I was backstage, actually. He kept saying to me, "I'm nervous."
He was like, "My stomach is in knots. I'm so nervous." And all I kept saying was, "Why are you so nervous? I'm the one that's supposed to be nervous!" Yeah, they were all proud. My family and the judges were all happy for me and they were really accepting of the fact that I had won.
Which artists or producers would you like to work with in the future?
Melanie Amaro: I'd love to work with Mariah Carey and I'd also love to work with L.A. Reid. He's a great producer. He's a great mentor and he's wonderful. And so, I'd like to work with him.
What was your relationship with Simon like and was it hard for you to forgive him for sending you home?
Melanie Amaro: No, I mean. He was so sincere about coming back to my house and apologizing about everything, that I could not stay mad at all. No. I was hurt at first, but you know, I forgave and forgot and let go and I grew really at peace with it.
Did you ever imagine when Simon came to get you at your house that you'd end up winning the whole competition?
Melanie Amaro: Actually, no. (Laughs) This is really bad because I should be -- I should have really believed in myself -- but I kept thinking to myself that I wasn't good enough, and I constantly kept telling myself that.
When I broke that was when I sang my song and I constantly kept telling myself, "You know what? Be yourself, Mel. Just let go and just be you." So I did that and I had the accent out and everyone kind of had known about my journey and everything that I've been through.
Was that moment when you revealed your accent the time you realized you could win the competition or did that confidence come at a different time?
Melanie Amaro: To be honest, I still was thinking to myself that, regardless of anything, I was going to go far whether I won or not because I had accepted myself for who I was and I was going to go far regardless of the competition. I started to actually believe in myself.
Could you talk about what kind of album you'd like to make with your $5 million recording contract? Do you write music yourself, would you record other people's songs, etc?
Melanie Amaro: As of right now, I'm going to keep that as a surprise. I'm not going to give that away. I'm just going to say that you should look forward to it and know that I'm going to make some great music and that the fans should really want to listen to what I have to put out.
Do you think Simon was the perfect mentor for you? Do you think you still would have won if one of the other judges had mentored you?
Melanie Amaro: No. I don't think that I would have gone very, very far at all, because I needed Simon to be that tough judge that he was with me in order for me to grow -- to get to a higher place. So for me, I needed Simon. I needed Simon.
What was going through your mind the moment you were announced the winner of The X Factor?
Melanie Amaro: It's so surreal. I feel amazing. I feel as though I'm in a dream. This is not real.
Was there anything that you were surprised to learn about yourself throughout the competition?
Melanie Amaro: I was not -- last night was an amazing thing for me. I was so thrilled to have won. I mean, I was so shocked as well and I feel so blessed.
There has been some discussion about how your family has been going through some tough times. How much will this victory help you help your family? Is all the money tied to the recording contract or is there money available for you to use?
Melanie Amaro: We will see. As of right now, what I can help my family with -- my family has always been that support for me, and whatever I can help my family with, I will most definitely help my family with.
Do you know when will you hit the studio and begin working on your album?
Melanie Amaro: No, but we'll see where things go, you know? As of right now, I'm taking things one step at a time and whatever comes my way right now, I just have to be ready for it.
Melanie Amaro: The most important thing the competition taught me about myself is that I can sing any type of genre of music and actually do it very well.
When Simon cut you in the beginning of the competition, what was that like for you? Did you have any idea that you could come back and end up winning it all? Did that ever cross your mind?
Melanie Amaro: No. It didn't.
How much more of a shock was it for you to win considering that you almost weren't in the competition?
Melanie Amaro: At that time, I had no clue. I didn't even know... I was so devastated when he immediately gave me a "no," so yeah. I really didn't think I had a chance. I really didn't.
What are you going to do with the money?
Melanie Amaro: I'm definitely going to buy myself a foot massager (laughs) and buy my mom a new house.
As the weeks went on and contestants went home, you seemed to get very upset each and every week. What was your relationship like with some of the other acts on the show?
Melanie Amaro: We were all very close. We were all great, wonderful friends with each other and we had all gotten so close. We got used to being around each other and for someone to leave our little group, it really impacted all of us.
Out of allThe X Factor contestants, who would you like to do a duet with in the future?
Melanie Amaro: I'd like to do a duet with Josh. I'd like to do a duet with a few of the contestants -- I mean, all of the contestants. Why not!? -- maybe [Rachel Crow] or [Drew Ryniewicz], because they're all amazing singers. So, to me, which ever one I do a duet with, I think it would be brilliant.
Why do you admire Mariah Carey? What is it about her that inspires you and you admire?
Melanie Amaro: Because she has a beautiful, big, amazing voice, and because she has used her talent to make a difference -- to do what she loves. She strives to be the best in what she does and that's why I admire her. She's an all-around great person. She's an amazing person.
Out of all four of the judges, if you could do a collaboration with one of them, who would you choose?
Melanie Amaro: I'm guessing I would have to collaborate with my mentor or L.A. I don't know -- or [judge Nicole Scherzinger] or L.A. I don't know. (Laughs)
How did it feel to go from originally not making the cut to the lives shows and then to finally win? Once you got cut, did you go back to what you were doing before the competition?
Melanie Amaro: I did. After I got cut, I went back to working. I went back to doing the same old thing I was doing before, and I wasn't too happy. I was a little miserable, but after getting a chance to come back -- after Simon told me I'm coming back -- I felt so, "Wow, I really wasn't meant to be doing any of the stuff I've been doing. I'm meant to sing."
Since you were sent home and then came back into the competition after Simon realized he had made a mistake, do you think that encouraged your fans to really vote each week and consistently support you?
Melanie Amaro: I think so. I'm not sure, but I guess they saw how me getting a "no" really affected me and how I really didn't deserve to get a "no," and they didn't want me to get a "no." So I think they might have voted very hard in order to not get that "no" ever again.
What did you think of your singing talent compared to the other finalists?
Melanie Amaro: I think my talent was a gift and I think that I had a big range. I had a stronger range than a lot of the other contestants. I think that just me doing what I do with all of my heart kind of put me apart from a lot of the other contestants. I sing all the time and when I sing, I sing with all of me. I sing to the very, very pit of my soul. I sing, because it is something that I truly, truly enjoy.