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ALESHA I'm on brink of a new era; bgt star says she'S READY FOR ADVENTURE; With her TV career flourishing in the US and her fifth book just published, the mum of two is loving life after years of self-doubt.

Byline: GABRIELLE FAGAN reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

SHE'S become one of the nation's favourite TV personalities as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and Britain's Got Talent - but Alesha Dixon has never hidden the self-doubt and lack of confidence that troubled her in the past.

However, things have changed a lot on that front in recent years.

"I feel I'm on the brink of a new era, a new decade and a new adventure," said Alesha, 41.

"A lot of people fear getting older but for me, one of the best things is that you learn how to be comfortable in your own skin, be wiser because of your experiences and feel more mature and grounded."

Alesha already has lots to celebrate.

In January, she made her debut as a judge on America's Got Talent: The Champions - a role she describes "as a dream come true" - and her fifth children's book, Star Switch, has just been published.

"Instead of being scared of what might happen next and the unknown, now I can embrace it," she said, at her home in Hertfordshire.

"When you're young, you're constantly questioning yourself and wondering whether you're good enough. But when you see yourself having success and feeling you're doing something well and are able to repeat that, you can say to yourself, 'Actually, I'm good at this'."

Alesha, who first found fame in the early-Noughties in girl group Mis-Teeq, reportedly struggled in her 20s with fear of failure and self-doubt.

She suffered a double blow in 2006 when her record company dropped her and her marriage to So Solid Crew member MC Harvey ended.

Personal contentment with her partner of eight years Azuka Ononye, and their two daughters - Azura, six, and 10-month-old Anaya - along with her career success have clearly been key in her transformation into the strong and confident woman she is today.

"As a couple, you become even closer when you have children, and Azuka and I feel so blessed to have such lovely girls," Alesha said.

"I'm really enjoying motherhood but it's definitely been a challenge having two little humans completely dependent on you. After all, I've only got one pair of hands.

"After juggling the family and work, I have days when I'm absolutely exhausted and just can't wait for bedtime. But I'm truly at my happiest when I'm with them, or on stage."

She said she's undecided about whether she'll have more children.

"Two weeks after I had Anaya, Azura said to me, 'Mummy, I think it's time for a brother now.' But I'm happy with two for the moment, although I'm very much an open-minded person, so never say never."

Only five weeks after Anaya's birth, Alesha went to the US to work on America's Got Talent.

"For 20 years, I've been obsessed with working in the States, and then when I'm pregnant I get the offer," she said. "I just couldn't turn it down, even though I'd planned a year off.

"It was soon after giving birth but I was so busy and excited, I think I simply didn't have time to register the tiredness. I felt on a baby high and job high at the same time."

She has no truck with "working mum guilt" and believes her career and work ethic could inspire her daughters.

Alesha said: "I work to support them and I want them to see me doing something I love, and to know that both Mummy and Daddy are go-getters.

"I had a wonderful moment recently when Azura wrote her own book, because she'd seen me write mine.

"If I can spark her imagination and inspire her to create something just by her watching me, then it makes all I'm doing worthwhile."

Alesha's drawn on her experiences in the music business for her latest book, Star Switch, about two teenagers - one a pop star and the other an ordinary schoolgirl - who swap lives.

She said: "A lot of young people tend to see people in the spotlight and think their lives could be better if they could walk in their shoes and have their fame.

"It's a 'grass is always greener' idea.

I want to show that to be happy, you need to find joy in your own life, appreciate what you've got and take pleasure in your own achievements, family and friendships."

She clearly practises what she preaches and is careful to nurture her health and wellbeing, with regular workouts in her home gym.

"Training and eating healthily helps me feel good," she said. "I know it's important to have 'me time' but that's in short supply at the moment, unless you count time when I'm sleeping. Normally, my treat's an occasional massage or a facial.

"But I'm a great believer in balance in life. Azuka and I try to have time together when the kids are in bed, and have dinner and dip into a box-set. It's about making our time for the children, our work and us as a couple work as well as possible."

Alesha also co-hosted The Greatest Dancer with Jordan Banjo ("He's like my little brother and calls me 'big sis"') but it was cancelled in April after just two series.

She's still brimming with energy, optimism and enthusiasm, and writing and recording new music now too. "I've never lost my passion for singing. I feel my most authentic self when I'm recording or when I'm on stage," she said. "I still have itchy feet to do more and achieve more.

"I feel really fired up and energised and with my family behind me, I feel armoured to go out there and go to another level creatively.

"While there are many things I could have done better or differently, essentially I am who I am," Alesha added. "I have to own everything I've done, the good and the bad, the mistakes, learn from them, and try and improve in the future.

"One of my strengths is I've always been grateful and never taken anything for granted. I particularly remember being on stage at the V Festival in 2009 and this vast sea of people singing my songs.

"It was unbelievable and I always thought to myself, 'Remember this and realise how lucky you are'."

Star Switch by Alesha Dixon is out now

I still have itchy feet to do more and achieve more ALESHA DIXON ON HER FUTURE PLANS

CAPTION(S):

FAMILY Alesha with her partner Azuka Ononye and their daughters Azura and Anaya

FAME Alesha in Mis-Teeq and at launch

AUTHOR Alesha's new novel. Right, US talent show judge

PREGNANT Hosting The Greatest Dancer

QUALITY STREET Alesha and Heidi Klum in colourful outfits on America's Got Talent
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Author:GABRIELLE FAGAN reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 18, 2020
Words:1112
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