Winners Alex & Sierra celebrate with judge Simon Cowell, center, onstage on FOX's "The X Factor" Season 3 finale on Dec. 19 in Hollywood. Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX via Getty Images
On Dec. 19 Alex and Sierra, one of Simon Cowell’s groups, was crowned the winner of "The X Factor" 2013. Meanwhile Jeff Gutt and mentor Kelly Rowland came in second place, and Paulina Rubio's Carlito Olivero placed third.
The winning duo consists of Alex Kinsey, 22, and Sierra Deaton, 22, who are both from Florida, and with impressive iTunes song chart numbers, a $1 million recording contract and Simon Cowell supporting them, their future seems bright. They shared their experiences about the road to the top during a conference call on the week of the finale.
Were you afraid to stand in front of Simon the first time? And did you prepare for if he said something blunt? Sierra: Could you not tell that I was nervous the first time we saw Simon? I was freaking out. I think we had tried to prepare ourselves for standing in front of someone like Simon Cowell, but there’s really nothing you can do to prepare yourself because once you step out onto that stage, it’s a completely different feeling.
Sierra, you received some tough criticism from the judges. You seemed to really come back from that... S: I think the night that happened, I had to get all my emotions out. I pretty much cried. But, you know, we came here to get criticism. I think I just had to get it and get over it. I really wanted to prove to myself that I can take it and I can come back stronger. I think getting that criticism just motivated me and I’m actually glad I got it because I know now that I can take criticism on national TV and still come back stronger.
Alex: We watched [it] back that night a few times, because we wanted to see what they were talking about. I honestly think the girls were wrong when they were calling out Sierra as strong as they did.
What was the turning point for you on the show? A: I think that “Give Me Love” was a really high point for us. It was our idea to do that song and it went over so well. I think that that was, kind of, when Simon started trusting us to make some good decisions on our own.
S: Yes, I think that our main big moment was “Say Something,” because it was the first time we both got to sit down, play instruments and just be artists that are singing the music that they want to sing. The charts definitely reflected that it was a good decision.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced during the competition, and how have you overcome that? A: I honestly think that just the amount of work that goes into it. Coming into it, you think, "OK, you’ve got to learn a song here and there [and] you’ve got to be prepared." But it’s a television show, too, you know, and there are a lot of interviews and things that we didn’t really expect to come across. We were prepared for the music. We were prepared to work hard and learn the songs and change them up and do our thing with them. We weren’t really prepared for just the amount of time that is spent on things that aren’t really as much music as you would think. You get very tired.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Simon? A: To be ourselves and to make sure that when we’re working with someone, we let them know what we think and what we want to do. We have to be able to sell the music that we’re performing. We have to be able to be behind it and love it and perform the crap out of it. We can’t do that if we don’t love what we’re doing from the get-go.
S: But also [to] know how to compromise and take the advice of people around you that probably know a lot more than you do. That’s definitely — we’ve learned how to stand up for ourselves, but also know how to compromise.