All fun and no fear for talented Jessie
The competition is hotting up for New Zealand's Got Talent finalist Jessie Hillel but, despite the backstage nerves, it's all just "really fun" for the Churton Park 11-year-old.
A week ago, Jessie's performance of classical song O Mio Babbino Caro saw her win enough viewer votes to go through to the final. There she will be joined by Hamilton singer "Big Dane" Moeke, as well as Olivia Turner and Tawaroa Kawana, who both went through on public votes last night.
Jessie says she is a fan of her rivals, and she is glad she does not have the judges' role of having to choose between performers in the early heats.
"Everyone's so good. If I was the judges I would probably take a million years to figure out who could go through."
The 11-year-old Otari School pupil has been singing since she was 3 and started lessons two years later.
At 5, she entered her first public singing competition at North City Plaza mall in Porirua - even before she could really comprehend what a competition was, mum Susan George said.
"We told her that you go there and sing, and if they call out your name at the end, you get to sing again - that was all she knew."
Jessie made it through to the final of that competition, too. The only problem was that, when her name wasn't called out as the winner, she became quite upset.
"After she got home, she started crying, because she thought she could never sing again, because they did not call out her name," Ms George said.
Since Jessie first appeared on New Zealand's Got Talent, she has been recognised in public, and has received emails from fans, including one from a 6-year-old girl hoping Jessie will come over and sing with her. "She said she saw me on TV, and asked if I could be her friend."
Jessie isn't the only musical one in the family - sister Julie plays the piano and the girls often accompany each other.
Selecting a song for the final may prove difficult. "There's lots of options, but I don't really like choosing," Jessie said.
She will be joined by 11 others in the final, to be screened on November 25 on TV One.
The Dominion Post