Louis Walsh and Tulisa accused of racism after Misha B speaks out about X Factor experience

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Monday 15 June 2020 05:00
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(ITV/X Factor)

Former X Factor contestant Misha B has posted a powerful message on Instagram, accusing the show and judges of lying and manipulating to make her look bad.

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.

The caption was posted alongside a clip from 2011, which shows Tulisa and Louis Walsh alluding to her behaviour behind the scenes when they're supposed to be judging her performance.

Walsh says he hopes she's not "too overconfident", while Tulisa follows up saying she's "very competitive", that she's seen a "different side" of her backstage, that "being feisty can come across quite mean", and that she's heard from "certain contestants" that there's been "mean comments towards them". She ends by saying that Misha needs to "put aside the attitude".

Thoughout, Misha's face shows clear confusion as to where this is coming from.

Judges Gary Barlow and her mentor Kelly Rowland go on to defend the singer, saying they're not here to judge what happens backstage. Rowland addresses Walsh's comment directly, saying "you're supposed to be confident when you go on stage".

He replies that one of his contestants complained about Misha "bullying" him, and Tulisa follows up that it's "about character" and "affecting other contestants.

All in all, the two-minute clip which was broadcast during the third live show to millions on national television, served at the time to paint Misha – who was just 19 – as an arrogant bully.

The two judges reportedly apologised the following day but arguably the damage was done. Despite being defended by the other two judges and her fellow contestants, Misha was subsequently voted off the show.

Gary Barlow later stated threat he believed the allegations ended Misha's chances of winning the competition, which is based on audience voting.

In his 2018 biography, Barlow accused producers of manufacturing the whole thing, saying:

“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 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 bullied everyone all week’.”

Misha followed up with an Instagram Live in which she speaks more about about her experiences of racism on the show, saying that she knew from the beginning that she would be faced with the trope of the "angry black girl", and that she went out of her way to keep to herself.

In the hour-long clip, she describes how the bullying allegations came about, and show she tried to talk to other contestants, but they "looked straight through me, it's like I was invisible".

She also says the judges "spent a maximum of 1 per cent time with me and their contestants". She says:

My understanding is you created this whole narrative of me being 'overconfident' because I'm black. And in your eyes black girls should not be confident. Black girls are just 'one of'.

She goes on to suggest that Tulisa has "every line scripted", saying:

I'm not fooled. I wasn't fooled. But in 2011 they got away away with it.

[Tulisa] called me 'feisty', 'mean' – these are common words used to describe black women. 

This woman had spent zero time with me. The only time this woman spent with me was afterwards, when she gave me a very half-arsed apology.

She goes on to explain that she spent the journey home thinking of "ways to end my own life", saying she got home, packed her bags and ran, trying to leave because she was so upset that no one spoke up on her behalf. She said she's struggled with trust issues ever since.

Over on Twitter, people saw the clip in a whole new light compared to how it was perceived in 2011.

Since the Black Lives Matter moment has been reignited after the death of George Floyd, more and more people and entities have been called out for racism, both overt and implicit, with a number of TV shows and films being removed from streaming networks for racist content.

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