She brought Demi Lovato to tears. Now we are learning more about Jillian Jensen, the fearless Massachusetts teen who overcame bullying in school to become a fan favorite on the new season of “X Factor.”
On Wednesday night’s season premiere, Jillian, 19, laid out an emotional story of torment and heartache that hit especially close to home for Lovato.
"You can feel that pain," the Disney star whispered to fellow judge Britney Spears during Jensen's performance of Jessie J's "Who You Are.” When the song was over, Lovato jumped up on stage and embraced the weeping singer.
"When you sang, you broke my heart," she said, wiping away tears. "I can't wait for the bullies at home to see this."
When they do, some might be surprised to learn Jillian isn’t quite as down on her luck as it appears.
In fact, she is a former child beauty queen who was a member of a successful band (The Varsity Girls) and once sang backup for former “X Factor” judge Nicole Scherzinger.
“People think that because I have done these things and because I appear to be so happy and at peace as I perform on a stage that I have been equally blessed with an easy upbringing,” she noted in a letter to fans earlier this year.
But, of course, that wasn’t the case.
On her first day of 7th grade, Jillian said she saw a classmate with a bag of white power in his hand and decided to inform the principal.
“Needless to say, that boy was taken away in a cruiser publicly during our lunch period,” she wrote. “How quickly everyone found out it was me and how quickly I stumbled into hell.
“Every class I had seemed to be with the same people and I had the same name…‘snitch.’ As the days seemed to grow longer they also got worse. More rumors began to spread and other names I began to possess, it was as though I became the one to make fun of. Now it was not only for the thing I did right, but for other things that were not true and non-related.
Jillian said she would cry herself to sleep at night and hid the truth from her parents out of embarrassment. She eventually was forced to transfer schools.
“I then began hurting myself,” she confessed. “I couldn't fathom the idea of this continuing any longer than it had. I had many marks on my body it was only a matter of time before someone noticed, but by that point I had already attempted suicide two times.
“When all of this came to my parents attention I was sent to therapy, but that wouldn't stop the bullies. I didn't understand why I was still the one being punished: first leaving MY school and now therapy.”
Jillian easily advanced Wednesday night and will return to the show later this fall for the Boot Camp round.
Another round of “X Factor” auditions airs tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX.
What did you think of Jillian's emotional story and performance? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
Sean Daly runs the blog SingersAndCritics.com, which covers reality singing-competition shows.
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