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Leona Lewis: 'I get more nervous performing now than when I was 10'

  • @adamjacques88

I believe I could have had a career in the music industry without the X Factor But it was an amazing platform that propelled me to what's happening now. I won't listen to anything people say [against] it. I got up every week and sang on stage without that lip-syncing that a lot of artists do these days – that takes a talent that you can't fake.

Simon Cowell acts the same on and off the stage He can be brash, he can be funny, but what doesn't come across is the sweetness – but that wouldn't work well on The X Factor.

It felt awesome to hear Simon say that I'd saved the X Factor It's had a great run and I can't see it ending. And I think Simon's shown me his appreciation for [my role in] that, with all his support for my career [Lewis is signed to Cowell's label, Syco]. I hear so many artists who say that they're so controlled [by their management], and that they can't do this or that, but I can.

I get more nervous when I'm performing now than I did when I was younger When I was about 10 I performed at the Wembley Arena for the British Heart Foundation. I think I sang a song by the Beatles. What was weird was that I wasn't scared – you have no fear at that age.

It takes bravery to end a relationship People can tell you a million times what to do, but unless you know you're ready [to break up], it doesn't matter what they say – change is uncomfortable. With Lou [Al-Chamaa, with whom Lewis split in 2010 after a 10-year relationship], while I knew in my brain I needed to do it, it took a while for everything else to catch up.

I'm stronger and more independent than I thought It's a powerful thing to know, especially as a female. I've always lived with someone but in the past year I've learnt to live alone; you have to be OK with your own company – and even to enjoy it.

People will always show their true selves in the end I've met some deplorable people over the past six years, who have done some really bad things, and I've seen their betrayal of my trust unfold before my eyes. But I've learnt from it and grown from it and I'm much better now at knowing who I should avoid.

I suffer from arachnophobia I don't mind the tiny spiders so much; it's the ones with their legs covered in thick hair. At a shoot I was doing the other day there was the biggest spider I'd ever seen – it looked like a tarantula and I was like, I can't deal with that.

I ride my horse, Spirit, to relax It feels so calming having downtime at the stables. It's just nature, me and my horse.

Leona Lewis, 27, is a multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter who broke into the industry by winning 'The X Factor' in 2006. Her latest album 'Glassheart' is out now; her new single, 'Lovebird', is out on 25 November (leonalewismusic.com)