London Mums’ exclusive chat: Alesha Dixon reveals how motherhood has made her a better person

In this heart-warming and funny interview, singer and hugely popular TV personality Alesha Dixon opens her heart about motherhood, her first laugh-out-loud superhero novel, female role models, guilty pleasures and a few BGT gossips. I loved talking to her! You’ll enjoy this interview. 

As soon as we get into chatting, Alesha laughs in her familiar loud voice which makes me feel at home. I am so delighted to be with her because I totally adore Alesha. She is so likeable, chatty and feels like the girl next door. But Alesha is actually a huge pop star and VIP. She was part of Brit-nominated and MOBO Award-winning group Mis-teeq, before becoming a platinum selling solo artist. In 2007 Alesha won Strictly Come Dancing and then became a judge of the show for three seasons. Since then she has hosted many TV programmes and now is a hugely popular judge on Britain’s Got Talent.

Q: Your first novel in collaboration with Katy Birchall is alaugh-out-loud, high-voltage, action-packed adventure series for young readers which sees 11-year old Aurora Beam, a new superhero, fight bullying and injustice with her mum. Where does your inspiration for this story come from?

AD: That’s a tricky question to answer, because my inspiration comes from lots of different places. When I first set out to write a children’s book, my daughter was my first point of inspiration. I’m a very creative person and always thinking about new projects and opportunities. When you have kids, and read stories to them all the time, your brain starts ticking. I just loved the idea of coming up with a character that could be a role model for boys and girls, and for my daughter. Then I came up with the name Aurora Beam and her super powers and the rest has just gone on from there. I take inspiration from real life stories, and add fun that can take children into a bit of a fantasy world, and provide positive subliminal messages. It’s such a lovely feeling to know that children are picking up the book and enjoying it. That inspires me, and motivates me to want to do more. I feel lucky that I’m now in the position to create a series in Lightning Girl, and continue the story of Aurora Beam and her adventures.

Alesha Dixon Photographed by John Wright

Q: What’s your favourite superhero of all time, and why?

AD: You know what? This is really random, but Iron Man. Lately, I’ve just been so obsessed with Marvel movies, but I look forward to him the most. He’s just perfect and brilliant. Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic in that role. It insults me to not mention a female superhero, so I would have to give Wonder Woman a bit of a big up. The last Wonder Woman movie was actually fantastic.

Q: Maybe you’re too young for that, but I grew up with the original Wonder Woman series with Linda Carter.

AD: I remember. I remember. Super heroes take you up to a different place and I don’t know what it is about them, they just give your imagination to think what could be possible and how far the human body can go and how powerful, strong, clever, unique we could be. All of us want to believe that they really exist.

Q:Iron Man doesn’t have his own superpowers naturally, but he creates them so it makes him even more special.

AD: It depends on how you interpret superpowers, because we’ve all got superpowers within us and he’s a really good example how he created his own.

Q: Why do you think superpowers are so popular among children?
AD: 
It’s about giving children something to aspire to and to spark their imagination of what could be possible. Young children look at the world with innocence and allow their imagination to get carried away. When we grow up we become quite suspicious and we want to know what’s behind things. I love watching how excited my daughter gets by everything. Kids really embrace what they see visually and they believe it.

Q:    How do you see the role of female superheroes influencing the girls of tomorrow?

AD: When I was younger, there was always the perception that boys were stronger and faster so a lot of the superheroes that we saw growing up tended to be guys. Having more female superheroes really addresses the imbalance. It’s very important that young boys and girls see both male and female superheroes.  Why put limitations on what is possible for girls? It’s about them being themselves in their best light and not thinking that it’s just the boys. It’s important that girls know that they are special too. They can equally achieve and succeed and we have to celebrate our differences. This reflects modern society and the way the world is moving towards.

Q: This is the perfect time for women to really showcase their excellence. There has never been a time like today, when women are not afraid of anything.

AD: That’s right. There are so many examples of that. It’s not about being better than men but about being equally respected.  And it’s about perceptions because many years ago there were stigmas attached to the female role but now we live in a time in which we see a lot of women equally doing great things all around the world in high positions. It’s pretty important that we get this message across to the young generation so that they can believe in themselves.

Q: For me the real superheroes are all the mothers out there managing careers and family lives and everything else. You’re a great example. How has motherhood changed you?

AD: I agree with what you said about juggling. That’s something I too admire in mums. There are lots of parents just trying to make it work on a daily basis because it’s a daily challenge. Motherhood has changed me for the better. Being a mum has made me a better person. When you have children, you’re their first point of call, their role model and their teacher, so you want to set the best example. The better I am as a parent the more well-rounded human being my daughter will be as a result. It is my job to make sure she is a kind-hearted, lovely human. Becoming a mum has made me more responsible, more mindful, more patient. I’ve always been a compassionate and loving person, but having a child opens your heart even more and you almost look at other children in the same way you look at your own child because you know what that love looks like and you also know what the struggle is like. It gives you more empathy towards other parents – I say parents because it’s not just mums.

Dads are in the same situation trying to juggle work and family life. You have good days, you have bad days, but you should always remember the blessing, i.e. this beautiful person that you’ve created and how wonderful that is. To me that is a superpower.

Q: In Oprah Winfrey, you show a very human and sensitive side and you manage to stay true to yourself and honest about your own views. How difficult is it to be as opinionated as you are with a boss like Simon Cowell?

AD: I try to be as honest as I possibly can. It’s a good question because making a television show, what gets me through is never forgetting that it’s a human being with a real-life story standing in front of me. I always put that ahead of anything else, first and foremost. You can’t go wrong with just being yourself, authentic and honest. It’s really important to stay grounded and root for the talents in front of you to support them.

Q: Over the years you’ve seen so many acts. We have seen you crying, especially for some of the kids’ acts. It’s like a superpower to be compassionate like that. Is there anyone that you will never forget and why?

AD: The nine-year-old boy Malakai Paul auditioned one year. He started singing what could have been a Jennifer Hudson’s song but he was really nervous and begun crying. He forgot the words so he stopped. I got up on stage and knelt down to him and just said to him: “If you don’t want to carry on, you don’t have to. You’ve done brilliantly well”. I gave him a big hug, then he got it together, sang the song and was brilliant. In that moment I felt very motherly towards him. I just wanted to put my arms around him and tell him it’s okay. Because even when kids make mistakes, you still encourage them.

Growing up I never felt like my best was enough and so whenever I see anybody perform or do anything, I’m always conscious of wanting to encourage them. As long as you put your best foot forward and you tried, that’s good enough. To improve you need to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and grow. You don’t have to be perfect or get things right all the time. That helps me when I’m on the show.

Q: You are an inspiration. Teenagers or young children look at you as a model to aspire to. In Lightning Girl, Aurora was inspired by a mum. Who is the person who has inspired you the most in your life and why?

AD: Lots of different people. I always say my mum because she is a wonderful person and taught me so much, but there are many other inspirational women including my nan. She is 80 years old and can still get on stage and act in plays very independently. She has a great life and I always tell her how much she inspires us. People fear getting older and my nan inspires me, because she shows me she lives her life in full, has fun, and is independent. She fulfils her passion. I also admire Oprah Winfrey, who defied all odds and went on to be the most powerful woman in the world. She is just a beacon of light. I look up to Oprah, because she uses her platform really well and responsibly. You can see she has a strong spiritual compass and she genuinely wants people to live their best life. I admire that quality. If you think about stepping into your own light and becoming the best version of yourself without being afraid, she is the epitome of that.

Q: Yes, and she is also black. Oprah has told many times how tough it was for her as a black woman at the beginning. That was an obstacle, but she managed to showcase that if you persevere in your goal, you might find resistance, but eventually you will succeed.

AD: We can learn from each other and when I think about people that inspire me, most human beings I meet, in fact, can teach me something new. That’s the beauty of the human connection and I take inspiration from all sorts of people from all different walks of life. I’m forever learning in that sense.

Q:    What’s your earliest London memory?

AD: I was born in Hertfordshire. But I spend so much time in London so I feel like I’m a London girl. It’s a fantastic, vibrant city and I love it. I am grateful to be able to work in such a brilliant part of the world with so many iconic landmarks. London plays a significant role in Lightning Girl. In the first book the Natural History Museum plays an important role. In the second book, it’s the Houses of the Parliament and in book three, which I’m currently writing, there will be another iconic building. London as a backdrop is fantastic because everybody loves it.

Q:    London is almost like another character in your novel.

AD: Absolutely. I always say that. Like when Sarah Jessica Parker used to say that New York was a big character in Sex in the City. It’s important to add a popular location in a story to give people a sense of familiarity. They already feel like they’re in that place because they know it.

Q: And what are you up to now? Can we expect more music or books from Alesha Dixon in the near future?

AD: I like being busy. But I try to find the right balance between working and spending quality time with my daughter. The second book is out soon. I’m actually in the process of writing book number three and in the studio writing music. I’m also going to start a new show in the near future, but I can’t mention it yet.

Q:    What’s your guilty pleasure, if you have the time to treat yourself at all?

AD: My guilty pleasure is reality TV. I love watching shows such as Love Island, Keeping up with the Kardashians, those that you can have on the background while you’re cooking dinner. Just something very light-hearted, a bit of silliness. I always make the time to watch a bit of reality shows.

 

Lightning girl is illustrated by James Lancett & Steve Simpson. Photo by John Wright.

 

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About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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