The X Factor: An interview with Anton Stephans

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You must be on another planet to miss the press attention The X Factor‘s Anton Stephans is currently getting as he enters only the second week of the show. In fact, in recent days, his past has become more prevalent than his talent.

Reality TV, whether fly-on-the-wall documentary or talent contest, will always catapult its once unknown subjects into the limelight without a safety strap. The instant fame generated by this push into the limelight can really distinguish the professionals from the amateurs.

As he enters into his second week of live shows, I grabbed a very insightful and often emotional interview with Anton in The X Factor house.

Good morning Anton. I have to ask, how are you feeling this week with the negative press attention you are receiving?

Paul, Honestly, I am in the middle of Hertfordshire, in a fabulous house with amazing people around me – I feel okay. Of course, I feel upset by the lies, but it comes with the territory.

Only this morning I heard that apparently I spent time in Wormwood Scrubs prison. It’s funny, because at the time of this alleged prison sentence, I worked for a recruitment agency.

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The X Factor team do checks, so I doubt I would be here now if I had served a prison sentence. What really hurts are the personal attacks. I was called ugly the other day. That really hit hard – how dare they be so cruel? Even if I am ugly, what gives you the right to say it?

Why do you think you are a target?

I honestly have no idea. I have tried to figure it out, maybe it’s because I am coming across as a nice person and people think I’m being fake. There really is nothing fake about me, I’m just myself and that is it. I think the press just wants a whipping boy.

How has the negative press affected your friends and family?

My friends have been amazing and supportive. Just recently, one of my friends Russell Cane sent me an amazing and supportive text message. I’ve had messages from the cast of Hollyoaks and Eastenders too.

The X Factor team are fantastic, they know how to handle this kind of thing and continue to support me. Simon has been a wonderful friend; he is a very sensitive and kind man.

Everyone agrees that nobody on the planet has an empty closet; we all have skeletons from somewhere or something, but the press will find the tiniest detail and blow it out of the water, turning it into something bigger.

Unfortunately, my family have felt the effects. I try to keep my family situation to myself – they are not even fans of the show, nor do they have an interest in becoming celebrities – but they have been dragged in, which is very unfair.

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My aunt and uncle called me the other day, quite upset. They told me my biological father now states he brought me up, which is utter nonsense.

With the negative press, has it given you any regrets about entering The X Factor?

No not at all. I have been through worse situations in my life – I just got over cancer, if I can tackle that, I can tackle anything.

It’s a shame this kind of thing happens. I imagine it would put many very talented people off entering the show, which is a travesty. As artists, we constantly judge ourselves – we have insecurities, many of us. It’s what makes us. We do not need others fuelling that.

For me, it is the work that matters, everything else is just noise, albeit very loud noise. I am very grateful for this opportunity. After my cancer I struggled to go back to work. I remember sitting at home watching The X Factor – the episode where Chloe was booed off – and I thought to myself, if I could get up there and get over that I can do anything. Mohammed Ali once said, ‘It’s not how hard you can hit it’s how hard you can get hit and still stand up.’

How have the other contestants on the show reacted to your press attention?

I think they are relieved it’s not on them to be honest. Seriously, they have given me great support. I’m like the dad of the house as I’m the oldest. They come to me for advice; I give honest feedback, that is how I am.

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So, what is a typical day in The X Factor bubble like?

Hard work. I’m up at 5.30am every morning and I finish usually around 9pm. It’s like a marathon. Thank God I’m strong and fit enough to handle it.

You have mentioned Simon, your mentor. What are the other judges like?

The other judges are extraordinary people. They always pop into the house to say hi. Cheryl Cole sat with me for an hour the other day. We talked about everything going on. She really knows her stuff, obviously, from her history with the press and so she gave excellent advice. Rita is amazing too – she wants to protect me.

What can we expect from you this weekend?

Well, this week is a hip-hop theme. I will be doing a medley of ‘All About that Bass’ and ‘Bang Bang’. There is an Usher feel to my performance this week, re-inventing me and giving the public a different perspective away from the Luther Vandross style. You can expect my performance to be sexy and cheeky – I’m excited about it.

Before I let you go, Anton, what is today’s schedule looking like?

Today I have more styling, choreography and later The Xtra Factor. The Xtra Factor is great for me – I would like to go into music presenting in the future, have my own show, who knows. I have a clear trajectory in my mind.

Anton thanks you so much and good luck with the rest of the show.

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