Alexandra Burke speaks out on the racism she's faced in the music industry

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·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·2-min read
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Watch: 'I was told to bleach my skin', says Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke has revealed some of the racist incidents she has faced during her career, including being advised to bleach her skin shortly after winning The X Factor.

The singer, who is currently starring as the Narrator in Joseph And The Technicolor Dreamcoat in the West End, spoke to the The Guardian about an Instagram video she made speaking about the racist comments she has received in the music industry.

Read more: X Factor winners – where are they now?

She said that after years of being told she wouldn't get very far as a Black woman in music, things had escalated after she won the reality singing contest in 2008.

Burke, 32, said: “It only really hit me when I got asked to bleach my skin after X Factor."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Jason Donovan, Alexandra Burke and Jac Yarrow backstage after the press night performance of
Alexandra Burke, Jason Donovan and Jac Yarrow star in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. (David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The star wouldn't say who had made the comment, only that it is was “a certain person on the creative side who was working with me”.

She also said she had been accused of looking "aggressive" because of her hairstyle at a concert in honour of Sir Bruce Forsyth at the London Palladium.

Burke said: "I had my hair in a bun, with a couple of baby hairs. It was classic, classy; I had a black dress on. Half an hour before I was due on stage, my hair stylist came up to me and said: ‘I’ve just been told you look quite aggressive with this hairstyle. We need to change it.’

(PA)
Alexandra Burke has spoken out about her experience of racism in the music industry. (PA)

"I said: ‘What?’ He said: ‘Your record label’s just told me you look aggressive, so we have to change it.’ I said: ‘What part of me looks aggressive?’ He said it was the baby hairs stuck to my head.”

Other incidents Burke spoke about include being accused by her then management company of not smiling enough during Strictly Come Dancing – despite her mother being seriously ill with kidney failure at the time.

Read more: Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock felt invisible as 'token Black girl' in the band

She said she cried every day for two weeks after George Floyd's death last year as she thought about her own male relatives being stopped by police, and that when her white ex asked her why she was upset and she tried to explain white privilege his reaction was "don't attack me, I'm not racist".

Watch: Alexandra Burke praises inspirational Duchess Meghan

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