Before Susan Boyle's Britain's Got Talent audition became the YouTube clip played 'round the world, Boyle considered herself "the wee wifey with the mop and the cat next door." Now a worldwide star, Boyle is gearing up for her exclusive TV Guide Network concert special, I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story (Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8/7c). Boyle sat down with the creators of the special to relive each step of her inspirational journey. In Part 2 of our four-part interview (read Part 1 of the Q&A here), she discusses how she reacted to her overnight popularity, her physical transformation and how her faith shaped her and her debut album.
Read Part 1 of Boyle's interview
A lot of the music on your album has a religious flavor to it.
There's a couple of hymns on there. It seemed right. "How Great Thou Art" is a song that takes me right back to my childhood. On a personal level, church is very important to me; it's the central point of my faith, and I recognize that God gives you gifts that you have to use to the best of your ability. I hope I've got the right professionalism to do that now. I know that I've got the right people behind me to bring it forward. I just hope that I can.
The church has always been my friend in the times where I was being bullied, where I felt lonely. When I lost my mother, it helped me through it. ... My faith gives me an inner strength and helped me through the periods of self-doubt. I will always continue to keep that kind of linkage. It's not just about being an entertainer. ... Another part of it is being connected with someone else, and that someone else is my faith.
Do you understand why your tremendous story has connected with so many people?
I don't know, really. It's an unusual story. I was often left behind at school because of one thing or another. I was a slow learner. I'm just a wee bit slower at picking things up than other people are. So you get left behind in a system that just wants to rush on, you know? That was what I felt was happening to me, and this feels like a good way of making up for that. A very, very enjoyable way of making up for it as well.
Piers Morgan to host TV Guide Network's exclusive Susan Boyle concert special
How do you feel about the worldwide reaction?
I didn't know what YouTube was until I was in the record offices and saw the clip and the number of hits. I'm still trying to come to terms with it. The fans have been amazing, and the mail I have received: phenomenal. I have been sent beautiful gifts, including books, toiletries and a vintage dress from the 1950s that had been in a family for generations and they wanted me to have it. It's indescribable that someone would want me to have something so precious. Everyone has shown me such kindness and support. I've even had offers of dates!
What do you think it was about you that people became so instantly fascinated by?
A woman who went on with mad hair, bushy eyebrows and the frock I was wearing had to be noticed. Come on! That particular frock was a good choice at the time, I thought. I'd bought it for my brother's wedding. It was a dress to impress. But I don't know. ... It's a hard one to put into context. [It's] probably the fact that I'm an ordinary person who came from a poor background, and through fate and the help of a great team of people, I was able to rise up from that. I know it's a cliché but it's a bit of a Cinderella story.
Check out 11 other overnight sensations
Some of the newspapers were less than lovely. How did that feel?
You can't really get annoyed by it. People will write things about you. It is part of the territory you're in. It felt a wee bit hurtful, and I'm sure if I read everything I would've become a wee bit paranoid. But you have to take it all with a pinch of salt. I'm getting used to it now, and I get lots of advice. Back then we all were a bit shocked by the interest, but I had a good team to get me through that unexpected patch.
Do you think it was hard for the media to deal with your instant fame?
I'm the wee wifey with the mop and the cat next door. I went from being an unknown [with] nobody bothering me on the streets to all these headlines with things like "the hairy angel." The pressure of that I found a bit suffocating because it all happened in such a short space of time.
You had a short spell in the Priory. Why?
I don't really remember much about it. After the finale, I went there with extreme exhaustion. I hadn't slept properly for about a week, and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I was in there for three days, and I've never felt so tired. But I look back on it now, and it was a necessity. I wanted to get a rest and a break at the time without all the cameras.
You've undergone a bit of transformation — when you look in the mirror now what do you see?
I brush up quite well! It's a bit like a cygnet to a swan. Now I see a sophisticated lady. Even though the outwardness has changed, inside I'm still the same, but a bit more refined now in some ways. The whole process has been good for me. I keep reading that I've had all this Botox, and the teeth whitening, but I haven't had that at all! I've been working hard and lost a bit of weight which has been good for me.