Leona Lewis talks to Closer and www.deanpiper.com.
She’s shot to global stardom and sold five million albums worldwide since winning The X Factor two years ago. But while singing sensation Leona Lewis may have all the credentials of a pop diva, she certainly hasn’t let the fame go to her head.
Softly spoken, unfailingly polite and self-deprecating, Leona laughs when I ask what sort of entourage she has now she’s a superstar, admitting: “I don’t have a PA, any security travelling with me or a stalker – I’m glad about that last one!”
In fact, Leona says former mentor Simon Cowell is trying to get her to become more of a diva!
“I remember Simon telling me that now I’d finished my first album he wanted to hear more demands from me when I work,” she says. “I thought it was funny – I don’t need anything special to be happy. I have everything I need. I don’t need to order people around. I’m still the same Leona. Simon’s still the most famous person in my phone – he’ll love the fact I said that!”
There is one aspect of superstardom that size 10-12 Leona says she will never get used to – being photographed in her bikini. She admits to being mortified when, last December, she was snapped holidaying in Barbados with her boyfriend of six years,Lou Al-Chamaa, 23.
“Being pictured in my bikini was a nightmare – especially for somebody like me. I’m a normal-sized girl and it’s embarrassing. Nobody wants to see rough-looking bikini shots of themselves from every dodgy angle.”
But she admits she’s glad to be a positive role model. “Oh well, at least I’m a real girl,” she smiles. “I want to be a role model for normal girls. I don’t want my picture in the papers when I’m having private time, though. I really want to keep my personal life private. Celebrities only go crazy because they are constantly in the papers.”
Still, there seems little chance of the down-to-earth singer following in the footsteps of troubled stars such as Britney Spears – thanks to a solid family and her steady relationship with electrician Lou, who she’s known for more than 10 years.
She proudly wears a diamond eternity ring he gave her, and says: “I hope one day we’ll walk down the aisle. To keep things good, we’ve had to work hard at the relationship – he flies out to be with me when I’m abroad.
“We have been together a long time and we are both doing our own things. It’s the same for everyone who becomes successful – you don’t just dump your friends and family for a new crowd. I wouldn’t do that.”
Leona, whose hectic schedule sees her travelling back and forth from London to LA, says she’s ecstatic to have been able to buy the London pad she and Lou used to rent. She says: “I’m a bit rubbish at spending money really. I was renting a flat in London and I decided to buy that, which is nice. But I’m not in a position to buy all my family houses yet. I can lend people a fiver though – put it that way.”
And while she may not want to turn into a skinny celeb, she admits that LA life has helped her tone up. “I ride horses in LA and I do spinning classes,” she says. “I don’t do crunches or anything like that. I wouldn’t want to spend my life working out and worrying about my figure. My best body part is my smile, but I don’t like my arms – they’re not toned enough and I can’t be bothered to work on them!”
In between LA trips, Leona is keeping a close eye on this year’s X Factor.
She says she was outraged by the exit of hot favourite Laura White. “People have something wrong with their ears as far as I’m concerned,” she says. “It was a total shock – viewers need to vote to keep the good people in.”
As she prepares to leave the interview I ask if – like Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls and Madonna – she has her own doll. She giggles and says: “There’s not a Leona doll yet – but I definitely want one. I’ll demand one!”
About time, too!