Rapidly approaching 15 years since her iconic X Factor win and swift launch into one of the biggest names in the music business, multi-platinum selling, global superstar Leona Lewis covers the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Rollacoaster Magazine.

Preparing to take her smash hit Christmas song ‘One More Sleep’ into its eighth season after December 2019 saw 18 million streams and a place within the Top 10 Christmas songs, Lewis discusses her return to the studio and 2020, what she refers to as her “year of diversifying” creatively. As well as reflecting on the music industry and its surrounding pressures, the renowned vocal powerhouse opens up about her philanthropic work as an animal welfare activist, speaking about her vital call to ban the sale of real fur, her commitment to being sustainable and her Eco Café business Coffee + Plants, which she owns alongside being a trustee at a 53-acre, 500-animal UK rescue sanctuary, Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. Leona is using her platform to speak out.

On music industry pressures, approaching 15 years in the business…

“It's weird when you think about how much time has actually gone. When people are like ‘how long ago were you on the show?’ [X Factor] and I’m like ‘seven years?’, it’s double that! It’s kind of mad…”

“There’s always different pressures I felt from outside, whether it’s lots of opinions on what I was doing, lots of judgment on things that I was doing, especially in the age that we live in where there are so many comments... It’s hard not to feel that pressure and you’d have to be a very focused person not to.”

“I’m the kind of person who is quite stubborn so once I have my sight on something, I just go for it.”

On being back in the studio…

“It’s been fun and it's been creative and I’ve gotten to be experimental because there’s no pressure. I’m looking forward to finishing up all those ideas… I’ve been really experimenting by going back to my roots, using some soundscapes and using different parts of my voice… I’ve been working with a very different pallet at the moment, which has been fun.”

On a creatively diverse lockdown…

“I’ve been doing a lot of creative writing and I have this TV concept which I’m developing right now that centres around where I grew up around Hackney and different things that impacted me growing up, I’m really excited about that project. I’ve created a little music book for kids which I’m also really excited about. I was on a TV show a little while ago and I’ve really been getting acting and seeing what roles comes for me as well.”

“[It’s been] the year of diversifying, life is too short. Why are we limiting ourselves and putting ourselves in a box? If I have learnt anything about myself this year, it’s like just go for what you’re passionate about.”

On being sustainable in fashion, life and business…

“I always kind of been someone who wants to explore lots of different sides of myself, this one particular venture I wanted to do is like an Eco Café [Coffee + Plants], so every 100 cups of coffee we sell, we plant a tree… everything is recyclable, we’re all plant-based and there’s no dairy. The cafe is surrounded with plants that sustain us and clean our oxygen.”

“I’m still learning definitely, there are still things where I’m like ‘oh wow this is contributing to a lot of waste, this thing I’m buying is gonna sit in a landfill somewhere, oh my god what can I do to buy something different or support someone who’s created an alternative or support different initiatives’ you know?”

“I’ve always been anti-fur I think it’s so cruel and outdated. I think anyone who can see a protest like that and not see the humanity of it all, has no compassion and I think it's vile. I’ve been involved in a lot of campaigns and animal rights, but fur is the one thing that I think is the most horrendous side of the whole animal welfare issue.”

On using her platform to speak out…

“If you have a platform where you can speak out about wrongness in the world, I feel like it would be a waste not too. But I feel like also, each to their own. It depends what issues upset you or you feel need to be brought to light. With the platform I’ve earned, there are certain injustices that I see that moves me so to a point that I can’t keep quiet about it.”

“I definitely am a very sensitive person and when I see things happening that is impacting my fellow people around me it hurts my heart… I’m just a singer, I’m not professing to be a huge activist, I’m just someone who likes to support causes. There are activists out there, protesting day in day out on the ground and I’m inspired by that.”