If Melanie Amaro was part of some grand plot on mentor Simon Cowell’s part to add drama to “The X Factor” proceedings, it’s news to her.
The $5 million grand prize winner from Sunrise, FL, who revealed her British West Indies background and island patois halfway through after getting a second lease on life from Cowell, who originally sent her home, insisted in a press conference this morning she had no idea whether it was planned or not.
Perhaps feeling the hangover from a night without sleep after American voted her the winner, Melanie most gave short, inconclusive answers to the media questions, though revealing she’d use at least part of her windfall to buy herself a foot massager and her mom a house.
Whether there’ll be anything left after recording, promotion, marketing and video expenses remains to be seen, but Amaro is ready to begin her journey of turning her “X Factor” win into an honest-to-goodness recording career, something that’s been elusive to past winners of shows like these, especially “American Idol.”
On whom she felt was her biggest competition: “I thought Chris Rene was. Everyone knew that he was an original artist who wrote his own music, and connected well with everyone.”
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On how she changed during the show: “I’ve grown not only as a person, but as an artist as well. I’ve matured and really stepped into my own person. I’m growing and learning so much from the industry and being in the competition. I’m really happy about the opportunities and the changes.”
On how she took L.A. Reid’s criticisms: “I viewed his and Simon’s opinions equally and used them to improve my performance.”
On why she decided suddenly to embrace her British West Indies culture and starting to talk in island patois: “To be honest, that really wasn’t planned. Something came over me during that performance, and I said to myself, accept who you are and just speak. And when I did, my accent came out.”
On whether being sent home by Simon and then having him bring her back was planned: “That was a total surprise. I had no idea he was coming. I thought I was out of it. When he showed up, it was like, ‘Oh my God.’
“He was so sincere about coming back to my house and apologizing about everything, I could not stay mad at him. I was hurt at first, but I forgave, forgot and let go. I made peace with that. I needed him to be a tough judge with me in order for me to grow, to get to that higher place. I was so devastated when he gave me a ‘no.’ I really thought I didn’t have a chance. All I know is he made a mistake, apologized about it, I moved on from it and look where I am now. Whatever happened in the past is in the past, and I’m looking forward to the future.
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“I kept thinking to myself I wasn’t good enough to win. It was only when I said, ‘Just be yourself, Mel, and let go.’ When I let my accent out, everybody found out about my journey and what I’d been through. I had accepted myself for who I was, and started believing in myself. And I guess my fans seeing that spurred them to vote that much more so I would never get that ‘no’ again.”
On how Simon reacted when she won: “He was more nervous than I was backstage. He kept saying, ‘My stomach is in knots.’ And I said, “‘I’m the one who supposed to be nervous.’”
On whom she’s like to work with in the future: “I’d love to work with Mariah Carey. And L.A. Reid, who’s a great producer and mentor. He’s wonderful.”
On her advice to anyone who also has a dream, but has hit a roadblock in pursuing it: “Continue pushing and never give up. Because if you give up, you let yourself get defeated. You won’t succeed. If it’s something that you really want, you have to fight for it. Anything that’s important is worth fighting for.”
On what kind of album she will make: “As of right now, I’m going to keep that as a surprise. You should look forward to it. I’m going to make some great music and the fans should want to listen to what I have to put out. I’m going to keep everyone guessing, so when it does come out and they hear it, it’ll be amazing. I’m just hoping and praying everyone will enjoy it, and they see the passion and love I have for my music.”
On what was going through her head when she won: “It’s so surreal. I feel amazing. I feel like I’m in a dream. This is not happening to me. I was so shocked as well. I feel so blessed.”
On how much this victory will help her family financially: “As of right now, we will see. My family has always been supportive of me. Whatever I can help them with, I will most definitely. I’m definitely going to buy myself a foot massager and my mom a new house.”
On what the competition taught her about herself: “I can sing any genre of music and actually do it very well.”
On her fans: “I thank everyone who has supported me through this entire journey. I love each and every one of them. I’m just seriously happy being in this position right now, because it’s something I signed up for. This is what I wanted. This is now my career. I’m ready for anything.”
On why she thinks she won: “Doing what I do with all of my heart kind of set me apart from the other contestants. When I sing, I sing to the very, very pit of my soul. Because it’s something I truly, truly enjoy.”
On her story being an inspiration to others: “That means a lot to me. By me doing what I’ve done with my music has inspired someone else to do what they love and maybe fulfill their dream.”