Emily Louise Overy talks to singing sensation Leona Lewis about life lessons, confidence and finding happiness at this stage of her life…*
2015 was a year of personal transition for you with a new album, label and turning 30 – what do you hope for 2016 and what are your goals?
Life has taught me such a lot, but I’m in a really comfortable place right now. I’m finding that as you get older you become more aware of who you are and you don’t let things upset you as much. 2016 is a big year for me in terms of my music. My tour started on the 21st February – I’m going to travel the world for a bit and take some time to de-stress before getting back in the studio to record new material. I’ve also become the new brand ambassador for KISS products and their imPRESS nail ranges, so I’m embracing lots of new and exciting opportunities right now.
Tell us more about this new exciting beauty venture…
I’m so excited about it. I love KISS products, so I was really excited when they asked me to be involved. Design and colour are very important to me and I love using them as a vehicle to express myself. I literally love all the designs they have, so it’s a really cool brand to represent!
In terms of your style and beauty look, do you ever opt for particular colours depending on your mood?
On my lips I love coral and peach tones as I think they complement my skin best and they represent resolution in relationships (I’m a good peacemaker!). When I go out, I sometimes splurge with an intense ruby red lipstick or gloss to symbolise my more sultry and romantic side. I wear false lashes more than I apply mascara – but the style depends on where I’m going. I always believe less is more and I tend to go for something natural like the new KISS Blooming Lashes in Peony. In terms of my nails, I actually love all colours, and often change them to suit my mood. On stage, I always feel up for something with wow-factor and sparkly like the KISS Gel Fantasy!
You launched Empower month on your Facebook page last year – can you explain the message behind it?
When I wrote my last record I had a lot of people contacting me about the lyrical content in my songs, asking about the emotional background to them. When I wrote them, I was in a place where I was feeling down, so I used the song lyrics as a way to empower myself emotionally as I was trying to bring myself up. Through this process and with time, fans started connecting with me as they felt the same way about things in their own lives. They began writing letters, expressing how they felt, sharing any problems they had emotionally and physically and I really wanted to help and share everything. I decided to start a campaign where I could circulate these letters on social media – fans carried on writing and sending their stories to me, and I shared them with the community so they could see they were not alone. It’s spread the word on important issues and helped many people, which is great.
What empowers you and makes you feel strong and confident?
Beauty always gives my self-esteem a boost, and I love switching up my look. It’s not always about make-up though – I often feel really good on holiday, which I see as a chance to celebrate the natural me and enjoy my skin looking a little sun-kissed. I let my curls flow and embrace very little or no make-up, as I usually have a tan. Empowerment to me means being happy with myself. I’m really proud of who I am and the views I believe in – such as being an ethical vegan, working with PETA and only using animal-friendly products.
How do you de-stress?
I love being around animals and nature. Going for a walk in pretty surroundings is nice, but my go-to is horse riding. I find it very therapeutic and it has always been my chill time.
Where in the world do you feel is your spiritual home?
I love the relaxed vibe and outdoor feel of Los Angeles and the climate is amazing – but London will always be my home that I connect to soulfully, as it’s where I grew up and had my musical training. Thankfully, at the moment I’m not away long enough to miss anything except my friends and family, who I’m very close with.
What life lessons do you think you’ve learned with age?
You generally become more confident! In my own experience, I think sticking to and advocating my beliefs have played a strong part in this. In regards to the way I look, I like chopping and changing my style as I think it’s good to try different things and find what makes you comfortable in your own skin. Always remember though that it’s not all about the exterior stuff – it’s what’s inside that counts.
For more information, visit leonalewismusic.com
*Originally printed in Soul & Spirit’s April 2016 edition.