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Cheryl Cole: From wannabe to national treasure

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    Posted: 29 Sep 2010 at 09:54

The Cheryl Cole story: From wannabe to national treasure

By Julie Mccaffrey 29/09/2010


Her figure was fuller, her Geordie accent stronger and her clothes were from the high street.

But during her first audition for Pop Stars: The Rivals, the 19-year-old Cheryl Tweedy proved to the three celebrity judges she had every quality she needed to become the star she is today.

It wasn't just her looks. "You have the most beautiful eyes and skin I think I've ever seen in my life," drooled Pete Waterman.

It wasn't her voice either, which was far from note-perfect during her rendition of an S Club 7 song.

Instead, it was her iron will, gritty determination and tireless work ethic which proved she had what it took to be big. "Do you really want to be a pop singer?" asked Louis Walsh. "I don't want to be anything else," she said. "You know it's a tough life? It's early mornings, late nights and lots of bull****?", pressed Louis. "And it's unglamorous", added Geri Halliwell. "I know," replied Cheryl.

Weeks later, after steaming through the heats, came the big turning point.

Millions of viewers saw her scream with joy and shout: "Come on!" when host Davina McCall announced she was the first girl chosen for the band. But few watching her that night knew of the years of struggle and sacrifice she'd endured to get that far.

Born Cheryl Ann Tweedy on June 30, 1983, the camera loved her from an early age. She was named baby by high street chemist Boots before she was a year old, and won a children's modelling competition for Mothercare at just six.

Cheryl went on to become the "Best Looking Girl of Newcastle" and "Most Attractive Girl" at a shopping centre. But she was far more than a pretty face. She showed a love of music and dance from the age of three, and her family scrimped and saved for every pair of ballet shoes, singing lesson and dance class.

Cheryl says: "Ever since I was a kid I've loved performing, being on stage, singing, dancing and showing off. There was just always something inside me, like I knew there was no other option. There wasn't a lot of money but mum and dad always found enough for my audition outfits."

Her mum Joan stayed at home to raise Cheryl and her brothers Joseph, 34, Andrew, 30, Gary, 22, and sister Gillian, 31, while dad Gary was a painter and decorator. Joan says: "From the age of four Cheryl went to shopping centres all over the place, strutting her stuff on catwalks and stages. She has wanted to be a star since she was a child."

In 1990, when she was seven, Cheryl appeared in the bath with her younger brother Gary in an ad for British Gas.

At nine she dreamed of being a ballerina and was one of a handful of girls picked from 9,000 hopefuls to take part in the Royal Ballet School's two-week summer school. A local newspaper campaign raised the £300 expenses Cheryl needed to make the trip to London. But she hated it and didn't fit in among the Surrey girls.

"I wanted to go home straight away," she recalls. "Everyone was prim and proper and I was a Geordie from a council estate. Their parents all had money and we struggled just to get the money to travel down to London. I felt I was the odd one out.

"I didn't want to have to stand a certain way all my life and only eat salad."

She started lessons at the Newcastle Dance Centre where she perfected ballbonniest room dancing, seen recently in the video for her Parachute single, and performed on Michael Barrymore's My Kind of People.

By the age of 12 she had been signed up by a management company and started singing solo to shoppers in the busy Metro Centre in Gateshead.

But while Cheryl excelled at performing arts, she was never the brightest girl in her class and her temper saw her suspended twice from Walker Comprehensive School, once for hitting another pupil and once for swearing on a bus.

"I was awful," admits Cheryl. "They used to throw me out of class."

After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, she got a job serving bacon baps at JJ's cafe in Newcastle where her flirty manner and curvy figure were a hit with regulars.

She also worked as a £5 an hour cocktail waitress on Tyneside's floating nightclub Tuxedo Princess, as well as model-ling and touring the pub and club circuit. But then came that win on TV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. Together with Kimberley Walsh, Sarah Harding, Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts, she moved to London. Settling into apartments in the same complex where Busted and McFly lived, Cheryl could not believe it.

"Four months ago I was sitting in a council house drinking tea and watching Oprah Winfrey all day," she said. Just as she was warned, a schedule of 19-hour days followed, with rounds of recording, touring, promotions and photoshoots.

But even she could not have predicted how successful Girls Aloud would be.

They had 20 consecutive top 10 singles, including four No1s, and each of their six albums went platinum. Guinness World Records listed them as Most Successful Reality TV Group and Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in UK by a Female Group. And now Cheryl has gone on to enjoy phenomenal solo success.

She first broke away from her bandmates to become an X Factor judge two years ago. Since then, Simon Cowell has doubled her fee to £1.5 million. And it looks set to double again if Cheryl signs for next year's American version of the show.

Her debut single, Fight for This Love, became the UK's fourth best-selling single of 2009. And last year's album 3 Words sold 900,000 copies.

Cheryl says in her new book Through My Eyes: "Sometimes when I meet fans they've got a story about how my albums helped them when they were going through a hard time, and I find that really touching. To be honest, that's what inspires me."

She may have amassed a £10million fortune and a position as the nation's sweetheart by the age of 27, but it still seems early days for the girl who was destined to be a star.

Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/09/29/a-star-is-born-115875-22594526/#ixzz10uHuK5Nw

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