Wellington schoolgirl second in New Zealand's Got Talent

01:13, Dec 03 2012
WELCOME BACK: From left to right, at front, Rosa Pillay, New Zealand's Got Talent second place winner Jessie Hillel, Madeline Whitaker and Sophis Balfoort (rear).

She may have beaten 5000 others to become runner-up on New Zealand's Got Talent, but the day after her big night Jessie Hillel was back at school.

"It hasn’t really sunk in yet," the 11-year-old said this morning.

"I might start drooling in class or something."

Jessie Hillel
JESSIE HILLEL: Pleased with her second-place win.

Despite knowing she was runner-up since the final was filmed on Thursday, she had to keep her placing secret until the programme screened last night.

She was one of more than 5000 hopefuls who auditioned earlier this year.

"But it’s sad. It means there is no more days off school."


WINNER: New Zealand's Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel.
WINNER: New Zealand's Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel.

In all, she got just over two weeks off school to film the programme.

Watching herself on television had been weird, she said.

"It’s like I have a twin sister."

Meeting her at the school gate this morning, friend Sophia Balfoort said Jessie had a lot of support within the school as well as back home.

"Me and my mum were screaming ... I am so happy for her."

Friend Madeline Whitaker, 10, said she always expected Jessie to do well.

"But I didn’t expect her to get into the top three, or top two, out of 5000 people."

School principal Clifford Wicks said the whole school was excited for Jessie, who was due to get a special mention in this morning’s assembly.

"She has always been a bit of a star at our school."

The winner of the show was Marlborough teenager Clara van Wel, who won a cash prize of $100,000, a recording contract and a new car.

She could not believe she had been crowned the winner, saying, "Can someone pinch me, please?"

Clara was chosen by a public vote, which included tens of thousands of text votes in the last days before the cutoff.

Evan Sinton took third place.

Judge and former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell said the voters "got it right".

In the first half of the series, Campbell and fellow judges Kiwi supermodel Rachel Hunter and Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison selected the acts who were to make it through to the semifinals.

The show has been open to public voting from the semis on.

In the one-hour finale, more than a dozen acts took to the stage, including the top three, who performed Gotye and Kimbra's hit Somebody I Used to Know together.


1. Clara van Wel - singer

2. Jessie Hillel - singer

3. Evan Sinton - singer

4. J Geeks - dance crew

5. Fletcher Oxford - singer

6. Big Dane - singer

7. Mihirangi Fleming - singer

8. Olivia Turner - singer

9. Dudley Fairbrass - singer

10. Tawaroa Kawana - singer

11. Logan Walker - singer

12. Zane and Degge - jugglers

The Dominion Post