UPDATED at 10.25AM with a statement from producers: Former The X Factor contestant Misha B has spoken candidly about her experience performing on the Simon Cowell-created talent show, saying that producers foist an ‘”angry black girl narrative” on her.
Misha B took part in the 2011 season of The X Factor, at which time Cowell was working on the U.S. version of the show for Fox. She finished fourth in the competition, with girl band Little Mix proving victorious.
In two Instagram posts, one of which was an hour-long video relaying her experiences, Misha B raised questions about her treatment on the ITV show and posted clips of judges’ comments about her alleged behavior behind the scenes. Producers said they are looking into her claims.
“In 2011 what I thought at the time would be the best opportunity for me, turned out to be the most painful experience of my life,” she said. “They 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.”
During live shows, judge Louis Walsh accused her of bullying other contestants — a comment he later apologized for. His fellow judge Tulisa Contostavlos also said “you being so feisty can come across as mean” when interacting with contestants backstage.
“I know that I’m not the only one who has heard those words — feisty, mean. These are common words people use to describe black women,” Misha B said on Instagram, adding that she was diagnosed with PTSD after appearing on the show.
The singer also posted an excerpt from a book by former X Factor judge and Take That star Gary Barlow, who wrote that producers at Fremantle and Syco often attempted to stir up tension about her behind the scenes.
“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’,” Barlow wrote.
An X Factor spokeswoman 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.”