X Factor's Katie Waissel: before she was famous

By Jessica Elgot, October 21, 2010
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Spot the star: aspiring pop star Katie Waissel gets lost in the crowd at Jewish youth summer camp

Spot the star: aspiring pop star Katie Waissel gets lost in the crowd at Jewish youth summer camp

Long before the black eyeliner, the bleached hair and the fake eyelashes, X Factor star Katie Waissel was just a normal Jewish girl.

Now she hopes fans are beginning to see a "stripped-back" version of the girl captured in this 1998 photograph of an RSY summer camp.

Ms Waissel, 24, who is in the final 12 of the ITV 1 competition, said she hoped Jewish fans would get behind her bid for a record contract with Simon Cowell.

She told us her mother and father have been rousing community support for her while she lives in the X Factor Mill Hill mansion. "It's such an amazing opportunity. It's hard work sometimes but I'm just getting my head down."

Mentored by singer Cheryl Cole, Ms Waissel was in the bottom two in the first show.

She was saved from elimination by judges. But last week she was the first through, after a soulful performance of Etta James' 1969 hit I Would Rather Go Blind.

Press attention, including rumours of a rift with fellow contestants Cher Lloyd and Matt Cardle, have been hard on her. "I can't help but read it. I don't think people realise I'm just a 24-year-old girl. I'm a human being."

Growing up in Pinner, Ms Waissel went to Heathfield School and was a member of Pinner Synagogue. She said RSY summer camps were "just wonderful."

Ms Waissel has previously featured in the JC as an aspiring singer under the name "Katie Vogel".

She hopes to emulate the success of last year's Jewish X Factor contestant, Stacey Solomon, who reached the final three.

Last updated: 2:57pm, October 22 2010