KATIE Waissel has spoken exclusively to the Gazette about the ups and downs of life as an X Factor contestant.
The Harefield singer, who has faced a torrent of negative tabloid stories since winning through to the live stages of the competition, said she was determined to enjoy herself and pursue her 'dream' of a career in the music industry.
She said: "I am having an amazing time and really just enjoying myself, I have wonderful people around me.
"I haven't experienced anything like this before in my whole life, but it has taught me to laugh at myself and rise above everything.
"They are entitled to their opinions and without that critique I wouldn't have known how to change myself and improve.
"It is just one of those things. I could either be negative about it and crumble or deal with it and enjoy it.
"I am so happy to be here."
Asked what it was like living in the X Factor house, the 24-year-old said:"It is hilarious, I love living in that house, it is so beautiful. There are so many big personalities it is like a big family.
"We don't spend that much time there but we all chip in with the cooking. The girls are all really nice, we like to get together and talk about boys!"
Before the X Factor changed her life forever, Katie worked a number of ordinary part-time jobs, including as a receptionist at HOB Salons in Northwood and helping out at the family business, DNK Fashion in Pinner.
Would she go back after the show? "In my mind there is no such thing as going back. To have this wonderful opportunity, I want to continue singing, so fingers crossed hopefully I can pursue this as a career.
"That is all I have ever dreamed of."
And Katie added that she still loved living at home with her parents in Harefield. "I love living at home with my mum and dad, but I would love to afford my own house.
"Somewhere we can all live and I can help look after them the way they have looked after me."
What Katie will be singing in her fourth week on the show is strictly confidential, but it is understood to carry a Halloween theme.
Whatever she sings, Katie will no doubt be looking to continue her improvement from an elimination sing-off in the first week to her energetic performance last Saturday hailed by Simon Cowell as 'absolute genius'.
The 11 remaining X Factor contestants will perform again on October 30, live on ITV1 at 8pm.