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15/06/2020 13:30 BST | Updated 16/06/2020 10:09 BST

X Factor Star Misha B Details Experiences Of Racism While Competing On Show

The former contestant opened up in a video recounting how she felt after being accused of bullying on the show in 2011.

Former X Factor contestant Misha B has detailed her personal experiences of racism while competing on the show in 2011. 

The singer opened up in an Instagram video about how she was left with suicidal thoughts and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being publicly accused of ‘bullying’ by then-judges Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos live on air. 

Ken McKay/Talkback Thames/Shutterstock
Misha B on The X Factor in 2011

During a live show of the eighth series of the ITV talent show, the pair confronted Misha following her performance, accusing her of upsetting other contestants behind the scenes.

Louis told Misha – who was 19 at the time, and one of the competition’s frontrunners – that he hoped she was not “too overconfident”, before Tulisa said she was “very competitive” and had seen a “different side” of her backstage. The N-Dubz singer added that “certain contestants” had reported there’s been “mean comments towards them” and Misha needed to “put aside the attitude”, before Louis claimed one of his contestants had told him Misha had been “bullying” them. 

Nine years on, Misha has shared her truth in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming the show “saw an opportunity to tear down a Black girl that came from a broken home and worked together to assassinate my character and to sabotage my career by orchestrating lies”.

She posted a clip of Louis and Tulisa’s comments on Instagram, saying it was just “one percent of what I endured” while on the show, before going Live on her account to detail her experiences further.  

Explaining rumours had been spread about her backstage during her time on the show, Misha said: “Let me just get this very clear. These judges spent a maximum of one percent time with me and their contestants, apart from Gary and Kelly… So my understanding is you’ve created this whole narrative of me being overconfident because I’m Black. And in your eyes, Black girls should not be confident. Black girls are just ‘one of’ – ‘You look like a young Tina Turner, you’re like a young Chaka Khan’. Why can I not just look like me? Why is it always you looking like someone else? Why is it always a comparison for Black women?”

“Moving on to Tulisa – if you go back and watch the clip carefully, and I’ve gone back and watched the clip carefully, this woman had every line scripted before she even opened up her mouth. I wasn’t fooled. I’m not fooled. I know what it is here. I know exactly what it is here. And, you see, back in 2011 they got away with it. They got away with so much shit.

“’Feisty’, [Tulisa] threw, followed by ‘mean’,” Misha continued. “Now I know that I am not the only one here that has heard those words. ‘Feisty’, ‘mean’. These are like the common words that people use to describe Black women. She then went on to say something along the lines of ‘seeing that some of the things that I say could come across as mean’.

“This woman had spent zero time with me. The only conversation this woman had with me was after this all happened, when she gave me a very half-arsed apology. Not the words ‘I’m sorry’, but ‘I never meant to do you no harm’. The damage is done.”

Misha went on to share how she experienced suicidal thoughts in the aftermath, and was later diagnosed with PTSD. 

She said: “I remember thinking of ways to end my own life. You don’t even know. I remember thinking of ways I could just end the pain.”

Of the long-lasting impact it has had on her life, Misha continued: “What I didn’t understand was that that experience, that trauma, had changed me as a person. It changed me. I didn’t trust anyone. Everyone asks me, ‘Misha, where have you been? What’s been going on?’ I’ve been battling. I’ve been healing. I’ve been working on self. I started therapy in 2012. I’m still having therapy now. Shout out to all my therapists, you’re the greatest, honestly. If it wasn’t for your patience, kindness, understanding and your services... life would be very different right now. You’d be looking at a different Misha B right now.”

On social media, Misha was applauded for telling her story: 

In his 2018 autobiography, former X Factor judge Gary Barlow addressed the show’s treatment of Misha, claiming producers had deliberately stirred up drama for the tabloid press. 

He wrote: “About half an hour before the show goes live, the producers would come in and they’d go ‘Oh my god. That Misha. She’s such a bully. Can’t believe it. She is such a bully. In fact, you know what? You should say it. You should say it on air. She’s just bullied everyone all week’.”

In response to Misha’s video, an X Factor spokesperson said: “We are very concerned to hear Misha’s comments regarding her experience on The X Factor in 2011. We are currently looking into this matter and are reaching out to Misha to discuss the important issues she has raised. The welfare of contestants is our priority and we are committed to diversity and equality.”

While a representative for Tulisa did not respond to HuffPost UK’s request for comment, she has since posted a video on Instagram apologising for publicly calling out Misha on the show, but claimed her comments were not “racially motivated”.

A representative for Louis Walsh declined to comment.

Watch Misha’s full video on Instagram

Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.