Since appearing on CBBC’s Got What It Takes in Series 2, Ellie Allen has joined a girl group, SGR, alongside fellow contestants Jorja Douglas and Kyra West. A keen dancer, Ellie has competed in many competitions but recently has spent her time concentrating on building her music career. We caught up with Ellie about performing as a group, Got What It Takes and her music inspirations.
When did you know you wanted a career in music?
I first knew I wanted a career in music when I was four years old. There was a talent show at an old caravan park and I remember having to lie and say that I was five to compete. I was the tiniest one there but, for some reason, I wasn’t nervous, almost like I’d been doing stuff like this for ages. I sang One Step Closer to Heaven by S Club Juniors. I remember my mum being gobsmacked that I had so much confidence in myself at just four years old.
Was there anyone that inspired you to become a singer?
From a really young age there was always music playing in the house and I’ve always known I wanted to be a singer, but growing up I was a real Disney kid. Anything High School Musical or Camp Rock you can bet I had it. So, being younger, I definitely looked up to the likes of Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Zendaya etc. But obviously as I am growing up and finding myself an artist, I am taken back by so many amazing, influential artists such as Kehlani, Kiana Lede, Sabrina Claudio, Raye, Rihanna and so many more just to name a few that push me to become the performer I am today.
What cover do you enjoy performing the most?
My favourite cover has definitely got to be So Sick by Ne-Yo as it is such a classic, I love the slow, calm R&B styling to it. This is also how I discovered Kiana Lede as her version of the song is pure perfection.
You were a contestant on Series 2 of Got What It Takes, how did you find the experience?
Got What It Takes was one of the best experiences of my life so far. It was just so amazing, I can barely put it into words, just being able to meet other people who are interested in the same things as you. It really forms a bond you can’t just get with anybody; within the first two days, it was almost like us kids had known each other for years. The experience also pushed me to become a better performer, of course there were amazing highs but some really low lows that only pushed you even harder the next day. I am so grateful that I got given the chance to take part in the amazing series.
Was there anything that encouraged you to apply for the show?
I’d watched the last series and thought it looked like an amazing experience. As soon as I found out that there was going to be a second series, I introduced the show to my mum straight away as, obviously, if I got onto the show, she would have to play an extremely big part in it. She said that it was an amazing idea and we should definitely go for it!
Were you nervous before filming started?
I was more excited then nervous, I just couldn’t wait to get up to London for three weeks and do something that I’d never done before and I was ready to throw myself right in. I was the most nervous about meeting the other seven kids as I knew they’d all be crazy talented! The only thing I was stressed about was having enough clothes for three weeks!
Looking back on the show, is there anything you would have done differently?
Looking back on the show, I think I would’ve tried not to be so embarrassed all the time. I think that I was intimated by my fellow contestants and held back slightly. If I had to give the Series 3 kids advice, it would be to go full out as you’re only going to get this opportunity once.
I am most definitely closest to Jorja and Kyra; we’re like sisters. We know what each other are going to say before we’ve even said it.
What would you say was the highlight from your Got What It Takes journey?
A highlight from inside the Music Mansion was definitely winning the Radio 1 Challenge where we had to test our interview skills with Nick Grimshaw. Getting to go to the building and even just walking through places where such huge stars like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian have been was so surreal. My other highlight would have to be performing in the Grand Final as there were only four spots up for grabs. I have never ever pushed myself as hard as I did that day, I know I tried my absolute hardest and have never been so proud of myself.
Did you watch this series of Got What It Takes and, if so, how was it knowing what the contestants were going through?
I did manage to catch some episodes, it was strange to see a new set of kids facing all the challenges but Jorja, Kyra and I did have the opportunity to meet the kids whilst filming in the summer and recently for the grand final. I knew exactly how they were all feeling, however it was nice to not be the one under the microscope this time!
Would you recommend other young singers to apply for the series?
Of course! Got What It Takes was such an amazing experience! Every young aspiring singer should get the chance to experience it. If their mums are up for it, of course!
After the show, you filmed for a CBBC version of Pitch Battle, what was this like?
Filming for Pitch Battle was so exciting as all of us Series 2 kids were reunited once again and we also got to meet some of Series 1 too. The whole thing was quite intense as I had been moved over to the Series 1 team with fellow Series 2 contestant, Evan. Both teams also had to learn and perform a whole routine containing three songs in just one day! Although it was strange competing against my own series, it was so lovely for us all to be back together, up on a stage doing what we love.
Did you get to meet the judges personally?
As far as I can remember, I don’t think we did get to meet the judges personally but we did meet Mel Giedroyc as she was the host, I was actually so starstruck because I love, love, love The Great British Bake Off, haha!
You’ve attended dance championships previously, what are they like and will you be doing more?
Sadly, I am no longer with my dance team and am unsure on whether I will compete again but I had such an amazing run with the dancing phase. Competitions are my absolute favourite thing about dancing, obviously they are nerve-racking when you arrive and, of course, competing against other dancers for solos and duos, but the atmosphere is electric. When competing in solos, you perform in heats, so alongside other dancers, you also have no clue what the song you’re dancing to will be until you are about to dance. I always loved that as it kept me on my toes and would often result in freestyling. I’ve only ever not placed in the top three once when competing for solos and have always come away with a trophy. I remember winning my very first sash the first time I had competed in the higher category and that is something I will always hold very close to me.
Do you choreograph your own routines, and did you help with SGR’s performance on this year’s Got What It Takes final?
When I used to dance, competitions would usually be freestyle and my duo and I would choreograph our own routines, so yes. In regards to the GWIT final, all us girls worked together on creating the perfect routine to perform.
Now you are a member of SGR, how different are you finding the experience performing as a group opposed to a soloist?
I’d say there’s a lot more pressure performing in a group. If you mess up, it’s not just on you, it then lands on the whole group, however, luckily, that is the only downside. You have so much more support being in a group as we all hype each other up as we want to be the best we can all be, it’s like a family, someone is always there for you if you’re feeling down rather than having to go through it alone. As a performer, it is also a lot more work as there are choreographed sets and challenging harmonies. I’d say it is shaping me to become a better performer.
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