image courtesy of Seven
image courtesy of Seven

After a surprise verdict which saw her beat out The Collective and Jason Owen to be crowned the winner of The X Factor last night, dark horse Samantha Jade, 25, has taken home a Sony recording contract—and a second chance at a pop career, having been dumped by America’s Jive label three years ago. She talks past setbacks, proving haters wrong and those Natalie Bassingthwaighte baby rumours.

What does winning mean to you?
It means that dreams come true in the end and as much as you think they are not going to come true, they do. I just can’t believe it!

You were in the bottom two more than any of your rivals. Why do you think this result came about?
I really think I had built up this barrier, this wall, from being in the industry before and just being in such a bad place. Once you get dropped from a label, nobody wants to touch you. In their eyes, you’re used goods. It was hard hearing I was “too old” and being told to lie about my age. It was the week I performed Usher’s “Scream” that I realized, “You know what, I am getting to perform every Monday and I need to let this guard down and be me and be confident that there’s a reason I am still here.” I think that’s what it was.

Do you know why you were dropped by Jive records in the US just ahead of releasing an album?
There was a lot of politics within the label. It’s hard sharing, you know, a space with Britney and Usher—people like that. You’re a very small fish in a big pond, so I think that was a lot of it. And you know what, I don’t think I was ready either; I think I am a lot more ready now then I was.

What makes you think things will turn out differently this time around?
I think I have found my close net of people. That is one of the main things I’ve learnt you need in this industry—people you know are honestly there because they love you for you. You need that support. I’ve learnt that the hate is outshined by the love. I read it and I go, “Whatever, I’ve got so much support and I’m just going to do everything I can to make [my supporters] proud.”

Where does your drive to succeed come from?
When you’ve been knocked down, you appreciate the good stuff that that much more.

Did you think you had a shot at winning?
I thought it would be The Collective and Jason Owen in the top two, for sure! I thought that especially because girls never, ever win. I don’t think it’s fair to say that if The Collective had won it would have been because the show is rigged, because they actually worked really hard for their spot in the finals.

What do you say to those who thought you had an advantage in the competition because of your long-standing friendship with Guy?
I understand where they were coming from, particularly for the home visits segment, as that was the one part Guy had control over. But Guy was one of the people on the show to remind me I made it through because they wanted me here and that I deserved to be there, which felt really nice to know. For the whole rest of the show, even the boot camp, it was up to four judges and also and up to the public. So I don’t feel like I had an advantage in those two parts.

What did your mentor Guy Sebastian say to you off camera following your win?
“I am so proud of you.” And he gave me a lot of great advice because, you know, he has won one of these show before. He said to enjoy every moment, that it’s going to be so crazy and I’m going to be pulled in three directions and it’s just going to be full on. To make sure I take time to enjoy myself, have fun and let myself be proud of myself. And I really am. This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me.

There’s talk that Guy may not return next year. What can you tell us?
I haven’t heard that at all. Oh my gosh, he has to come back—he has won twice in a row now!

Who will you be staying in touch with from the show?
I have actually stayed in touch with everybody. We texted all the time—Carmelo, Fortunate, Angel, Nathaniel, Bella.

What about the rest of the judges?
I hope to be friends with all of them. I really have to thank Natalie for being so, so sweet to me. She just said the loveliest things. What a sweetheart.

There are reports Natalie is expecting her second baby. Did you notice?
No—I have just been told that today, but I don’t know anything about it. She wasn’t giving anything away that I know of. I didn’t notice a baby belly or anything.

What do you stand for as a performer?
I stand for strength. Honestly, I have been through a lot and I’ve just come back fighting because I love it so much. I am happiest on stage and I am so grateful to get another chance and I am so grateful to have made it in Australia, my home.

You are set to release an album and headline the inaugural X Factor live tour in January, but what is your ultimate measure of success?
To be a performer and just sing forever. I could do what Leona Lewis did, that would be incredible. She won the UK version of The X Factor and is so well-known in her country and in the world now.

For information on the X Factor Live Tour, visit the Tin Roof Touring website: www.tinrooftouring.com.au

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