In 2011 when then, 19 year old Misha B appeared on the UK show, The X Factor, she was allegedly subjected to bias comments that she and others feel were a deliberate attempt to portray her as an ‘angry black girl’ and get her kicked off the show.
Picture credit: Indie 100
In the two minute clip, judges were supposed to evaluate her stage performance, but instead Tulisa and Louis Walsh entered into a character assassination that rocked the teenagers confidence. She was eventually vote off the show and says:
“I spent the journey home thinking of "ways to end my own life"
In the 2011 clip, Louis Walsh says he hopes she's not "too overconfident", while Tulisa follows up saying she's "very competitive", that she's seen a "different side" of her backstage, that "being feisty can come across quite mean", and that she's heard from "certain contestants" that there's been "mean comments towards them". She ends by saying that Misha needs to "put aside the attitude".
Throughout, Misha's face showed confusion to where this was coming from.
Judges Gary Barlow and her mentor Kelly Rowland defended the singer, saying they're not there to judge what happens backstage. Rowland addressed Walsh's comment directly, saying "you're supposed to be confident when you go on stage".
He replies that one of his contestants complained about Misha "bullying" him, and Tulisa follows up that it's "about character" and "affecting other contestants.
The clip which was broadcast during the third live show to millions on national television, served at the time to paint Misha – who was just 19 – as an arrogant angry black girl who was a bully.
The two judges reportedly apologised the following day but despite being defended by the other two judges and her fellow contestants, Misha was still voted off the show.
Gary Barlow later stated he believed the allegations ended Misha's chances of winning the competition, because the show is based on audience voting.
In his 2018 biography, Barlow accused producers of manufacturing the whole thing, saying:
“About half an hour before the show went live, the producers would come in and they’d go, ‘Oh my God. That Misha. She’s a bully. Can’t believe it. She is such a bully. In fact, you know what? You should say it. You should say it on air. She’s bullied everyone all week’.”
Misha recently spoke out in an Instagram Live in which she speaks in more detail about her experiences of racism on the show, saying she knew from the start she would face with the stereotype of the "angry black girl", and how she went out of her way to keep to herself.
In the hour-long post, she describes how the bullying allegations came about, and says she tried to talk to other contestants, but they "looked straight through me, it's like I was invisible".
Misha reveals the judges only "spent a maximum of 1 per cent of their time with me and other contestants". She says:
My understanding is you created this whole narrative of me being 'overconfident' because I'm black. And in your eyes black girls should not be confident. Black girls are just 'one of'.
She goes on to suggest that Tulisa has "every line scripted", saying:
I'm not fooled. I wasn't fooled. But in 2011 they got away with it.
[Tulisa] called me 'feisty', 'mean' – these are common words used to describe black women.
This woman had spent zero time with me. The only time this woman spent with me was afterwards, when she gave me a very half-arsed apology.
Misha explains that, when she got home, she packed her bags and ran, trying to leave because she was so upset that no one spoke up on her behalf. She says the issue has had a long term effect and she has struggled with trust issues ever since.
People saw the clip in a whole new light compared to how it was perceived in 2011.