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TV Interview

Jamelia

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Jamelia
Jamelia is almost beginning to make John "All-Round Entertainer" Barrowman look a bit limited. She's a Brit Award-winning popstar with eight top ten hits to her name, an increasingly experienced TV hand who's helmed everything from the National Lottery to a documentary on the hair extensions trade, and an emerging actress with two films out next year. But first she's appearing as a judge on BBC Three's Move Like Michael Jackson, billed as a "search for dancers whose skills best embody the spirit" of the late icon. Keen to find out more about her bulging CV, we called Jamelia for a chat.

What are you up to on Move Like Michael Jackson?
"I'm helping to choose the dancer who goes on to represent us at the Michael Jackson tribute show. I absolutely love Michael Jackson so it's a real honour to be involved, especially as Jermaine Jackson's one of my fellow judges. What also grabbed me about the show was the opportunity to show people how much talent we actually have in this country."

What have the auditionees been like?
"You know what, it's been really high, which makes the judging process that much harder for me! The premise behind the show isn't, 'Can you move exactly like Michael Jackson?' We're looking for someone who has Michael Jackson's creativity, his innovation and his fearlessness to entertain. We're not just looking for someone who can do the moonwalk."

Do you have a favourite Michael Jackson song?
"Gotta be 'Dirty Diana'. The fusion of R&B and rock was just so exciting and so different at the time. I remember absolutely loving the video and being so inspired by it."

What do you think of The X Factor Finalists' cover of 'You Are Not Alone'?
"They can all sing, I'll give them that, and it's all for a good cause. My daughter is bugging me to buy it! Hopefully they are actually giving all the proceeds to the charity they say they're giving it to, so I wish them all the best of luck."

You're also working on a new album. How's that going?
"Absolutely amazing! I'm off to LA before the end of the year to work on some tracks over there. I'm collaborating with some amazing producers. I've worked with a guy called Harmony who's part of the Darkchild camp - he's worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Lady GaGa in the past. I've also worked with a couple of producers out in Atlanta - a guy called Hard Work who's very up-and-coming, and another guy called AJ who's produced stuff for the new Usher album."

What sort of direction is the album heading in?
"It's still pop-R&B, but I'd say I've definitely gone back to my more R&B days. This time I've set the bar really high for myself. Because I haven't released anything in a while, I feel that everything has to be really exciting and it really has to make an impact."

Were you disappointed your last album, Walk With Me, didn't sell as well as your breakthrough LP, Thank You?
"You know what, I think albums are reflective of your mindset at the time and I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind for Walk With Me. Don't get me wrong, I love the songs individually, but I don't feel that it flows very well as an album. I think that made it harder for people to relate to it. The album sold over 100,000 copies, which for some artists would be amazing, but I wasn't happy with that at all. I want at least double-platinum every time!"

Are you nervous about competing in the charts again?
"Not at all. I'm really excited about it. I think the female presence is amazing at the moment and it's great to see some fantastic UK artists dominating the charts. I'm looking to have the single out in March, or at least hitting radio around then. I can't wait to get back out there alongside my contemporaries! I love being part of the music industry. It's something I can't let go of - if I couldn't be an artist, I'd die."

You've also got a couple of movies coming up. What can you tell us about those?
"Yeah, I've been shooting a gangsta flick called Magic Boys with Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen out in Hungary. What a laugh! Then in June I start shooting another film called Jericho's Walls Are Falling - it's about how a young guy deals with having to tell his inner circle that he's contracted AIDS. I play one of his lovers. You know, acting is something I thoroughly enjoy. I wouldn't say I love it more than music, but if I can balance the two, then why not?"

Finally, do you have any other projects lined up that we should know about?
"There's always exciting things coming up! I've been offered a few more TV shows, including one which is really exciting, but I can't say any more at the moment because it involves someone being sacked. Not in a Sugababes kind of way - I think they just want to revamp the show! Anyway, I'm in talks at the moment so watch this space."

Move Like Michael Jackson begins Monday at 8.30pm on BBC Three.

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