When current America’s Got Talent: The Champions judge Alesha Dixon was just 18 years old she went to college to become a physical education teacher, but always knew deep down inside that music was her true passion. After taking a street dance class, Dixon started networking and meeting with people from the music industry, ultimately catapulting herself into superstardom. From there, the rest is history—Dixon is now a singer/songwriter, author, model, philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashion designer.
“I always knew music was my passion and I started taking a street dance class to just do something that I loved,” Dixon, who hails from the United Kingdom, said. “I ended up just networking and meeting people that were from the same industry and then I kind of decided that I wanted to be in a girl group and then we formed the group [Mis-Teeq]. We were basically working unsigned for about four years, where we were just writing and developing songs and showcasing to different record companies. We finally wrote a song called ‘Why,’ which was our breakout song. A couple of labels heard this record and it got signed by a very independent label off the back of radio stations and all the DJs blowing up the song. The song kind of spoke before we did, which was amazing, and that was kind of the beginning of everything when I was about 22 years old.”
Mis-Teeq, which managed to become a Brit-nominated, MOBO Award-winning group, scored seven top 10 singles and released two double-platinum-selling albums. But after being in the group for eight years, Dixon decided to go it alone and try for her own solo career.
“I felt more ready,” Dixon said about heading out on her own. “Of course, I was trying to figure out my sound as a solo artist and I spent a good year and a half working on a record to find my own voice, but I was more excited to try something new. I think that it’s such a risky thing to leave a successful group and try and go solo. I had a few bumps along the road in the beginning, but I think that made me the artist that I am today because it was a learning curve for me. You learn about yourself and become a better artist. To go on to have success as a solo artist at the back of leaving a group was incredible for me and probably to this day one of my biggest personal achievements that I’ve ever had.”
Dixon is no stranger to the Got Talent family since she also serves as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions in the UK.
“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to work on Britain’s Got Talent where I’m currently filming my ninth series at the moment,” she said. “So the Got Talent family has always been close to my heart and has been my life for the past eight years. So to get the call from NBC and for them to invite me over to come to work on The Champions it was an absolute dream come true because I love AGT. I’m a big fan and Champions is so exciting because it celebrates the best of the best from all around the world. So even sitting there judging and having British acts on, and acts from Asia and Germany, it was just incredible. I’ve wanted to come over and work on American TV for many, many years now. It’s been one of my goals so to see it manifesting and happening; I feel super excited at the moment and very reenergized and motivated for what’s about to happen in the next stage.”
This iteration of America’s Got Talent: The Champions, Dixon is judging alongside comedian Howie Mandel, supermodel Heidi Klum and media mogul Simon Cowell, who Dixon has worked with previously on Britain’s Got Talent. Former NFL player turned actor Terry Crews is the show’s host.
“I’d like to think that I’m a people person and I always embrace new challenges and new energy so working alongside Terry, Howie and Heidi, they brought a new energy and it was fantastic,” Dixon said. “It was like the perfect job for me because everything felt familiar because I worked on the show back home for a long time, but it was new. It was a new audience, new energy and new personalities to get to know. Everyone made me feel so welcomed. Howie, he is such a laugh and a breath of fresh air and he’s so witty. Heidi is a girl’s girl and she made me feel so welcomed. We just had a great time from day one. I think both of us felt very much on the same page when it comes to AGT and that’s if we’re having a great time, the audience is having a great time. That was kind of our mantra for the whole series and it paid off.”
So, is there a difference between the American and British audience when it comes time to film the show? Dixon says yes.
“What was amazing for me on day one was the energy in the room and the level of excitement,” Dixon remembered. “It’s definitely more intense in America and when I walked out and I was like, ‘Yes! I love this! This is a bit of me.’ I really fed off that energy and I really appreciated it because British people, traditionally, we’re just a little bit more reserved normally. It’s kind of cool to just come out and feel that open energy. I do love that attitude in America where everybody has that feeling of anything is possible. It’s such a cliché thing, but that can-do attitude and that positivity really resonates with my personality and I find that super inspiring every time I come out to America.”
This season on America’s Got Talent: The Champions, acts from countries including Norway, Australia, Poland, Republic of Congo, Italy, America, the UK, take the stage to show America what they have.
“There have been many acts that blew me away this season,” Dixon said. “I think there’s so much pressure on these acts because they’ve done so well in previous seasons that now they’ve become even more competitive since they’re competing against the best of the best. So we’ve been spoiled. We’ve seen things we’ve never seen before. Most acts have upped their game and have gone up a level, which is incredible. I loved Heidi’s golden buzzer act [Angelina Jordan], she had one of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard on a Got Talent show period. When I watched back Howie’s golden buzzer V.Unbeatable, I started crying again because I realized the journey that these kids have been on and when you hear their backstory, you realize what a massive moment that is and I think they are ones to watch. They were incredible. I loved Tyler [Butler-Figueroa]. He is such a cutie as a violin player. He is such a young boy where again you hear his backstory and he’s been through so much in his personal life and I know that he’s going to inspire so many young children to learn a skill or pick up a musical instrument. I love things like that where people show what they’re made of, which is the heart and soul of the show.”
Besides judging talent, Dixon can also add host to the plethora of jobs that she already has.
“I find what works for me at anything I do is that I try to be as consistent as possible and to just be myself,” she explained. “I’m very much like that with presenting. I always try to just be really natural and just very reactive and in the moment. I love live TV because when it’s live there’s more adrenaline and people get more pumped because they’re on their toes more. When I’m doing something live I’m not afraid if things go wrong because I have this attitude where things don’t always have to be perfect. What makes something perfect is if you’re just being real and honest, so I live by that mantra and that’s kind of worked for me across everything that I do.”
Dixon also works alongside a lot of charitable organizations where she helps victims of domestic violence, animals and more.
“I work alongside Women’s Aid, which is a charity that helps victims of domestic violence,” Dixon said. “I also work alongside Action Aide, which is all about helping women and children in parts of Africa. I work a lot with animal charities as well. As somebody who has had a lot of rescue dogs and have grown up with dogs, I came to lend my voice to the Humane Society and World Animal Protection. I’ve actually gone on a few trips with World Animal Protection where I’ve seen bear rescues and they make documentaries on educating people about how to treat animals with respect and not use them for entertainment like elephant rides and selfies with tigers. I’ve done quite a few adventurous things and I’d actually love to do another documentary around that subject as well. I think that’s one of the things that I love the most about my job is that it gives me a platform to use my voice for something positive. I think that when you’re in the public eye, you have a responsibility to shine a light on things that need help and I think that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of.”
So what’s in store for Dixon this year?
“This year is exciting because it feels like the year to just do things,” she said. “You’re given one life and you have to make the most of it. I have two daughters that I want to provide for and set a great example for. So I actually have written a children’s book series called Lightning Girl. That’s actually coming out in America in March and I’m currently in the middle of having conversations about transforming Lightning Girl into a TV series or movie. That would be my main goal for 2020. I also want to put more music out. I’m back in the studio, writing so creatively I really want to challenge myself and make sure that these projects that I’ve been working on are coming into fruition and start to bloom. And just to live in the moment and continue to work on things that I love working on. I count my blessings every day and I’m very lucky to do what I do and I don’t take it for granted. I pray that when I go to bed at night that it long continues.”
Catch America’s Got Talent: The Champions on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.