“It was almost a little weird and too close to home”


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Jade Ewen has a CV like no other. Shortly after finishing fifth in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest – a position no UK contestant has matched since – she joined the Sugababes for their brilliant and slightly underrated final album “Sweet 7”. Since then Ewen has starred in the West End Productions of Aladdin and that of Lin-Manuel Miranda In the heights while taking on television roles in Sick of love and the BBC The Tracey Ullman Show.

She now plays a true icon – Mariah Carey – in the final season of Luis Miguel: the series. Real Life Carey and Miguel were romantically involved in the ’90s, a relationship that Netflix’s hit drama about the Mexican superstar describes as getting off to a rather turbulent start.

Ewen shares with NME what it was like to play such a fascinating and complicated real character, while talking about Eurovision and his time with the Sugababes.

NME: Mariah Carey is a global icon who seems to really enjoy playing with her own image and personality. How do you even approach his portrait?

Jade: “When I read his biography, on a personal level, there was so much synchronicity that I found very moving. It was almost a little weird and, like, too close to home in some ways. But then I felt relief because I understood what it’s like to be a mixed race woman in the music business – not to the same degree as Mariah, but I have some knowledge of it. industry, and I have even met with [Carey’s former husband and record label boss] Tommy Mottola.

“But originally the character [I’m playing] was not going to be called Mariah; he only became real Mariah later. The producers told me: ‘We are not looking for you to imitate him. This character is obviously going to be enormously inspired by her, but we have a certain creative license here and the most important thing is to portray a real person rather than a caricature ”. So, at that point, I decided that this would be my take on a hugely successful woman and an icon, but that I wouldn’t imitate every hand gesture. I think it would have been a distraction and could have spoiled the story. “

I really like the dinner scene where it’s clear Mariah and Luis are attracted to each other, but it’s also like two alphas colliding. Is this energy essential to their relationship?

“This is the thing that I really liked about it. Obviously, Mariah was at the peak of his career around this time, but so was he: he was Latin’s greatest superstar. So even though there is resistance at first, I think she’s warm to him because they have so much in common. They both share a difficult relationship with their parents and there is definitely that element of sacrifice.

“And I think the two of them share that feeling that maybe they can’t get their authentic voices heard because of other people in the music industry pulling the strings and telling them to stick with the model. We see them. so really go through this journey together and connect through their love of music. ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViJl5WnYpdg

As a successful performer at Eurovision Song Contest, what advice would you give the next UK participant?

“You know, that’s a really hard question to answer, because at the time [2009] I was at the very start of my career in the public eye. I was so fresh and green, loved to sing and just wanted to do a good job. People told me it was a poisoned and “political” chalice, but I just thought, “Why not give it a try? Throughout my career, I have always challenged myself like this.

“But I think you have to find a balance. On the one hand, what’s the point of participating in a competition if you don’t think you can get a good result? But at the same time, your personal validation cannot depend on the result, because it is so inconstant and unpredictable. The goal should be to do the best job possible, so that wherever you end up you can come away knowing people can’t deny that you brought quality.

It’s been 12 years since you joined Sugababes for ‘Sweet 7’. Are you already listening to this album now? And what do you think of this period of your career?

“I don’t listen to the album, but I’ve never been a listening or watching person. How do I feel it? It wasn’t that long after my Eurovision chapter, so I feel like when I see this version of Jade it’s not me. I was such a young, green, naive little thing, and I was pushed into this huge machine where it felt like I was just trying to stay afloat the whole time. There was a lot of worry because I never wanted to say the wrong thing or let anyone down, and I didn’t fully understand the situation I was in – so much was somehow hidden from me, in fact.

Sugababes’ Heidi Range, Jade Ewen and Amelle Berrabah perform on day two of the V Festival 2010 on August 22, 2010 in Chelmsford, England. (Photo: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images)

“It all happened really quickly and it ended very quickly as well, so I felt like I didn’t really get a chance to deal with it all for quite a while afterwards. But, I mean it was a fantastic learning experience for me, especially in terms of dealing with the music industry.

One idea that fans sometimes talk about is for the six Sugababes to get together for an “Ultimate Sugababes” tour. Does that appeal to you?

“At this point? No, because I feel like I really tried to break new ground and experience new adventures. I would never say never, but I saw that the line-up original is reunited again and really, I’m a fan of the original line-up and love their vocals, so I wish them well and I think while that works just keep rolling with it.

“I once heard that a TV show was trying to get the six Sugababes together and put them together, but I never even met the other girls. I met Keisha once at random at a wedding and she was really nice, but I never met Mutya or Siobhán.

Luis Miguel – Season 3 of the series premieres tomorrow (October 29) on Netflix.

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