The Voice UK's Lauren Bannon: "ITV haven't made a big deal out of the fact that I’m gay"
The singer talks role models, designer dresses, and kissing her wife on primetime TV
A singer-songwriter from Dorset, Lauren Bannon, 27, is celebrating after coach Olly Murs chose to take her through to the live semi-finals of The Voice UK. With her proud wife, Bex, supporting her every step of the way, Lauren has continued to impress the panel of coaches throughout each stage of the competition. I caught up with Lauren to talk about her journey on ITV’s hottest talent show.
DIVA: Congratulations on making it through to the semi-finals of The Voice UK. How does it feel?
LAUREN BANNON: Thank you, I keep having to pinch myself. It’s overwhelming to be a semi-finalist. I never expected to get this far and so it feels incredible.
How are you finding having Olly Murs as your mentor?
Olly’s a great coach and really down-to-earth. He’s been through this process himself and so can relate to what we’re going through. He’s very involved and turns up at every rehearsal, even when he doesn’t need to be there.
Now I have to admit, I’ve got a huge crush on Emma Willis. Are her piercing blue eyes as striking in person as they are on TV?
Haha, Emma is absolutely lovely! Yes, I can confirm her eyes are amazing in real life. She called me “babe” the other day and I had to play it really cool, then had a meltdown after she left and was like “Oh my God, Emma Willis just called me ‘babe’!!”
Both Emma and Jennifer Hudson are strong female role models on the show. What other female influences are there at The Voice UK?
There are a lot of strong women on the show and behind the scenes. Gayle Rinkoff is the head stylist and I totally trust her judgment. She knows exactly what suits me. Juliet Russell is my vocal coach and accepts nothing less than 100%. And, of course, this week it was four of us girls who got through to the semi-finals and so the other contestants are a powerhouse of women too.
What kind of a role model do you want to be?
I want to empower women and young girls to chase their dreams. I’ve noticed that, in this industry, a vast majority of musicians are male and I’d love to get more girls involved and really champion females in the music industry.
I also want to prove that hard work pays off. When I first went on the show, I had no idea how much work goes into it. Not just the contestants, but the producers, the band, lighting, styling - it’s a massive operation and makes you want to give everything you can to be a part of it.
Talking of styling, you’ve worn some amazing outfits on the show. Talk me through them.
Oh, the styling is one of the best parts of the show! I wore my own clothes on the blind audition, but since then I’ve had access to the style room. It’s my favourite place, full of sparkly and glittery outfits - like an Aladdin's Cave of clothes. I wore a classy Tal Medina dress for the knockout round. It was perfect for that performance, I loved it and am trying to persuade the team into letting me keep it after the show…
It was good to see The Voice UK screened you and your wife sharing a kiss when she congratulated you for winning the battle round. How important do you think that is for the LGBT community?
I thinks it’s wonderful! For ITV to televise our kiss on a prime time family show proves how far we’ve come in terms of normalising same-sex relationships. They’ve not made a big deal out of the fact that I’m gay - there’s no need to make a fuss - but they’re not hiding it either. It’s part of who I am and I’m proud to be married to Bex and to be sharing this journey with her. She wants to help me fulfill my dreams and her support means the world to me.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to audition for The Voice UK in the future?
Not to be deterred if at first you’re turned away. I originally auditioned for the show four years ago and didn’t even reach the blind audition stage, but I didn’t give up. If you love what you do - if you have a passion for it - then keep trying. Setbacks will happen, but try to learn from them and not get disheartened.
What made you audition again for this series?
I’ve grown a lot in the last four years and I know who I am and what kind of artist I want to be. I just feel ready now. It’s the right time for me.
I know you can’t give too much away yet, but what can we expect from your semi-final performance?
It’s going to be a huge show. Everyone is upping their game and I want to show a slightly different side to me in the semi-finals. I’m performing a much more well-known song this time and there will be moments of real fragility and vulnerability that I hope the public at home will connect with. I’ll give it everything I’ve got.
Watch Lauren Bannon compete in the semi-final of The Voice UK on ITV from 8.30pm on Saturday 31 March 2018.
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