Pop siren Nicole Scherzinger is getting a special kick out of fashion mags and websites following her as a trendsetter these days. “For a long time, people only saw me as a tacky Pussycat Doll who only wore leopard print,” she candidly points out. “Once people have a certain view in their minds, it’s kind of hard to get past that. Wearing ladylilke clothes I love and feel good in — to get positive response from that is really fun. I have a great team of stylists.”
Her attention in the fashion world is just one indication that Scherzinger is at the top of the celebrity hot list right now. There’s also her first solo album, “Killer Love” coming out this fall, generating heat — and her latest reality role as an “X Factor” judge alongside Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid. The Fox show debuts Sept. 21, but she’s already judged competitors in six cities and gone through a grueling “boot camp” experience. Contestants faced a series of tough challenges — and more than 125 were eliminated in just five days.
“That was the hardest part — letting people go,” says Nicole.
She had her “X Factor” baptism as a guest judge on the U.K. version of the show. “I wasn’t able to say ‘No.’ I’d say, ‘It’s not a ‘No,’ it’s just a ‘not now.’ I empathized with all the peformers,” she recalls. She’s saying “No” now, though Nicole says she still feels empathetic.
“For me, what has probably been the biggest surprise is that I’ve become more outspoken, that I speak my mind, that I’ve come out of my shell in that way. I don’t know if it’s Simon’s dark side rubbing off on me or what,” she says with a laugh, “but it’s there. There’s no acting,, none of that. There’s no, ‘So-and-so has this role.’ It’s real people, real emotions — that energy. Simon is very good about that.”
The influence might have been a two-way street. A few weeks ago, Paula Abdul made the remark that notoriously caustic Simon was “turning into me,” which people found a tad confusing. Nicole elaborates that “We felt that we were rubbing off on him, that he was coming more from his heart.”
She also notes, “The thing about Simon, working with him — in the beginning, they don’t tell you anything. They just throw you in the deep and it’s sink or swim. The one thing he does say is, ‘Just be yourself. Don’t hold back.’ You are then inspired to sort of match his level.”
Scherzinger has come a long way. She gets kudos for hard work, with a past that includes winning a season of “Dancing With the Stars,” serving as a judge on “The Sing-Off” and doing an early career stint with the girl group Eden’s Crush. “This is an awesome new chapter of my life,” she tells us. “It feels like the stars are lining up.”