Tula Paulinea "Tulisa" Contostavlos (born 13 July 1988), known mononymously as Tulisa, is an English singer-songwriter, actress, and television personality. She is known for being a member of the defunct Camden-based hip hop group N-Dubz, with her cousin Dappy and their friend Fazer. N-Dubz was formed in 2000 and released three studio albums before announcing their indefinite hiatus in 2011.
During 2011 to 2012, Contostavlos participated as a judge on the The X Factor. She mentored the "Groups" category in her first year, including Little Mix, the first ever group to win the competition. On 16 March 2012, during a Twitter dispute with Dappy, Contostavlos announced that N-Dubz had split up, and were not taking a break as stated in 2011. Contostavlos released her debut solo album, The Female Boss, on 3 December 2012. It received unfavorable reviews from contemporary music critics and poor first-week sales.
Contostavlos was born in Camden Town, North London, to an Irish mother, Anne Byrne (who, with her three sisters, was a member of the 1980s band Jeep) and a Greek father, Plato Contostavlos (who was at one time a member of Mungo Jerry); Her paternal grandfather was once a UN diplomat, whose home in Greece was close to that of Aristotle Onassis.
There is controversy over how affluent the family was: "Just how "street" Tulisa's childhood was is a matter of some dispute. In one interview her father claims that they were affluent, indeed that Tulisa was spoilt, since his own father, a UN diplomat, had a large Hampstead home and a sizeable villa in Greece. These Greek grandparents offered to pay for her to attend a private school, Plato claims, but he declined. Tulisa denies all of this."
When Tulisa was five, her mother, who has bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. She said that she was brought up in a 3 bedroom house and experienced a lot as a teenager: violence, depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anorexia nervosa, mental health issues, financial difficulties and bullying.
She revealed that she twice tried to kill herself as a teenager and also used to self-harm to try to help her cope with everything she was going through. With support from her uncle, N-Dubz's former manager, Byron Contostavlos, at age 14 she enrolled at Haverstock Secondary School, later attending Quintin Kynaston School in St John's Wood, but she didn't sit her GCSE examinations.
Dappy and Fazer, who had already started rapping together, decided they wanted a female voice in the group, which was called the Lickle Rinsers Crew at the time, and so invited Contostavlos to be part of the group. They started performing together as a group around Camden from as young as twelve years old. For N-Dubz's second album, she did a solo song called "Comfortable". Performing as the Lickle Rinsers Crew, they released the singles "Bad Man Riddim" and "Life Is Getting Sicker by the Day", which became hits on English pirate radio stations. After Lickle Rinsers Crew, they then became NW1, after the area they hail from, making their first music video in 2005 for the track "Everyday Of My Life", which received airplay on Channel U, recording more demos as NW1 such as "Don't Feel Like Moving", "Girl On Road" and "Livin Broke". Their first single to be released was "You Better Not Waste My Time", which was available for download only until their 2006 self-released single, "I Swear", which gained them their first mainstream notice. It wasn't until 2007's "Feva Las Vegas" (also self-released) that the group appeared on the UK charts, peaking at No. 57.
In May 2008, a song entitled "Ouch" surfaced along with a music video. The video for "Ouch" attracted over 4 million viewers on networking site YouTube in just over a month after release. On 6 August 2008, it was announced that the group had left Polydor Records and had signed to All Around the World records. The label predominantly specializes in dance music; however, they have occasionally released hip hop records such as Ice Cube's You Can Do It. The press release stated that the label would be releasing "Ouch" as the group's first single on the label in September 2008. The group's first album, Uncle B, was released on 17 November 2008. The album includes "You Better Not Waste My Time", "I Swear", "Feva Las Vegas", "Love for My Slums", "Ouch", "Defeat You" and "Papa Can You Hear Me?". "Strong Again" was touted as the third single to be released from the Uncle B album on 16 February 2009 and a music video was made, before the physical CD released of the song was cancelled for unknown reasons. The song charted for five weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking highest at number 24. Group member Dappy was featured in Tinchy Stryder's 2009 No. 1 single tentatively titled "Number 1", the video also featured cameo appearances from all N-Dubz's members. Due to the success of their debut album, the group embarked on their first headlining tour, Uncle B tour. The tour was originally planned for 16 dates but due to high demand 5 extra dates were added. The tour was supported by Stevie Hoang and Tinchy Stryder with whom N-Dubz collaborated with on his No. 1 single "Number 1". During one performance, Tulisa fainted on stage. Multiple news sources reported that it was due to suspected swine flu. The song "Wouldn't You" was then announced to be the seventh, and last, single to be released from the Uncle B debut album. The song was released digitally on 25 May 2009 and peaked at No. 64 in the UK.
The lead single from the group's second album titled "I Need You" was released on 9 November 2009 and charted at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. The album Against All Odds, was released on 16 November 2009, and charted at No. 6 in the UK Album Chart. The album went platinum within approximately 2 months of release. The second single, "Playing with Fire" features R&B/pop musician, Mr Hudson. The song reached No. 15 in the UK Charts on album downloads alone; however, when the single was released, it fell to No. 16, reaching a new peak at No. 14 the week after. The music video for the third single taken from the album, "Say It's Over", was released on 5 March 2010 on Channel AKA. It was announced that the single will be released on 25 April, it reached No. 27 on album downloads alone before the single was released. In late 2009, N-Dubz announced that they will tour their current album, Against All Odds in spring 2010, making it their third tour in two years, starting on 31 March and finishing on 20 April. It included 17 shows with supporting acts Skepta, Talay Riley and Ultra. On 1 April 2010, they released their first book, N-Dubz - Against All Odds: From Street Life to Chart Life, which they described as "the answer to the critics, there is a lot of bad press about N-Dubz at the moment and this is going to put the record straight about who we really are and what we're about!", saying they want to put "everything out there", and Fazer also adding "It's going to surprise you!". The book also gives access to a secret N-Dubz website.
The group filmed a 6 part documentary, Being... N-Dubz, which premiered on 21 June 2010 on 4Music, and was later renewed for a second series in 2011. After much speculation, it was confirmed that US label Def Jam signed the group. The first release was the album Love.Live.Life, N-Dubz's third studio album. It was released in the UK on 29 November 2010. The group began recording the album following the success of Against All Odds. "We Dance On" was released on 20 May 2010, as the album's lead single. It peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was also included on the soundtrack to the film Streetdance 3D. "Best Behaviour" was released on 17 October 2010 as the second single from the album. It peaked at 10 in both the UK and Scotland, and became a top 40 hit in Ireland. The song also appears on Skepta's album Doin' It Again. Its music video premiered on Channel AKA and Clubland TV on 8 September and was uploaded on YouTube by AATW Records later that day. "Girls" was released as the album's third single on 12 December 2010. It peaked at 19 on the UK Singles Chart. A fourth track from the album, "So Alive" was released as single on 6 February 2011. Five singles were released from Love.Live.Life. The fifth and final single from the album was "Morning Star".Love. Life. Live became N-Dubz' third platinum selling album.
In August 2011, it emerged that N-Dubz had parted ways with record label Def Jam, stating that they were "Never going to co-operate with them when they decided to change what we are". With Tulisa taking up a role as a judge on eighth series of The X Factor and Dappy releasing his solo single "No Regrets", N-Dubz's gig on 18 September 2011 was described as "their final gig for the foreseeable future".
2009-12: The X Factor and The Female Boss:
In 2007 and 2009, Contostavlos played the role of Laurissa (a cocaine addict who is in R&B group The Fam) in the TV series Dubplate Drama. She also played Shaniqua in the straight-to-DVD British comedy, Big Fat Gypsy Gangster, and made her big screen debut in Arjun Rose slasher Demons Never Die.
In 2010, Contostavlos was on a BBC programme called Tulisa: My Mum And Me describing her life before N-Dubz looking after her mother.
On 30 May 2011, Contostavlos was confirmed to replace Cheryl Cole as a judge for the eighth series of The X Factor, alongside original panelist Louis Walsh and fellow new judges Gary Barlow and Kelly Rowland, who replaced Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue respectively. The first public auditions began on 23 June 2011, with the new judging panel being sighted together for the first time. Contostavlos mentored the Groups category and mentored 2 Shoes, Nu Vibe, The Risk, and Little Mix during the live shows. After three out of four of her acts were eliminated in the first five weeks of the competition, Constostavlos was left with Little Mix. The group then went on to become the most successful girl band in The X Factor history, having avoided the final showdown every week and winning the show in the process, making them the first group to do so in the show's eight-year history. Contostavlos returned for the ninth series in 2012, alongside Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger, who replaced Kelly Rowland and finished as the winning judge with James Arthur. Tulisa mentored the "Girls", a category made up of female contestants aged 16-28, which included Jade Ellis, Lucy Spraggan and Ella Henderson.
In 2012, Contostavlos confirmed that she had started work on a solo album that would be released on 17 September 2012. On 19 April 2012, Contostavlos told Capital FM "You're going to have a track for every mood. I want it to be like a journey so you'll have everything from if you want to party on a night out, to big ballads if you've broken up with a boyfriend to more UK urban music." The first single to be released from the album was "Young". The promo video for "Young" was filmed on 2 March in Miami. On 29 April 2012, "Young" was released as part of a remixes EP, which charted at number five on the Irish Singles Chart and number 1 in the UK. 9 September 2012 saw the release of Contostavlos' second solo single "Live It Up", which features guest vocals from American rapper Tyga. The song debuted at number 11 in the UK. Released in November 2012 Britney Spears and will.i.am's single "Scream & Shout" has been originally written for Tulisa who also co-wrote the song (she is an author of the lyrics 'When you hear this in the club, you'd better turn this s**t up.') with Jean Baptiste and recorded it under the title "I Don't Give A Fuck". The track was intended for Contostavlos' debut album The Female Boss. However, the producer of the track, Lazy Jay, did not want Contostavlos to have the song and gave it to will.i.am, who re-wrote the song with Spears in mind. The song became a huge hit peaking at number 1 in the UK and number 3 in the USA. Tulisa's third solo single "Sight of You" has been released on 2 December to mostly negative reviews and charted lower than expected at number 18 Her debut album The Female Boss released in the UK on 3 December 2012 to negative reviews, charted poorly with low sales at number 35. On 24 January 2013, Contostavlos hinted that the album campaign had finished and that no further singles would be released in order to allow her to pursue an acting career.
On 22 February 2013, it was reported that Contostavlos was set to leave The X Factor judging panel for its tenth series. On 22 April, it was reported that Contostavlos may keep her place on the judging panel. On 21 May, ending months of speculation, Contostavlos confirmed that she would be leaving The X Factor after two series. She was replaced by original judge Sharon Osbourne.
2013-present: Return to television and new music:
In March 2013, it was reported Tulisa had begun work on her second album, stating: "I'm going to make a few singles soon, and I want to take my sound back to basics." It was reported that Contostavlos was in talks with Kanye West hoping to line up West as a producer and writer for her upcoming second album. A source stated: "Kanye could give her a hit, which is what she desperately needs. Look at what will.i.am did for Britney Spears recently." On 1 August 2014, Contostavlos posted a picture of herself in a recording studio on her official Twitter account. A few weeks later she uploaded another photo of the music studio to her official Instagram with the caption: "Back to business".
In July 2014, her documentary Tulisa: The Price of Fame premiered on BBC Three to a moderate success, attracting 615,000 viewers, 3.8% of the audience within its time slot. On 9 August 2014, it was confirmed that Contostavlos would return to The X Factor for its eleventh series as Louis Walsh's guest judge at the judges' houses stage in Bermuda. On 20 October 2014, it was confirmed that her first piece of new music, since her 2012 debut album, a new single called "Living Without You" would be released on 7 December 2014. However, it was later postponed to 4 January 2015. On 13 December 2014, Contostavlos returned to The X Factor as a guest judge for the first night of the series 11 final alongside Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole due to Mel B being ill. On 17 January 2015, "Living Without You" debuted and peaked at number 44 on the UK Singles Chart.
On 27 September 2012, Tulisa released her first official autobiography entitled Honest: My Story So Far. She also revealed she will be releasing a fiction novel.
Despite being baptised in her father's Greek Orthodox faith, Tulisa is now a practising Roman Catholic.
Starting in 2008 and lasting for around 18 months, Contostavlos dated South London-based DJ/rapper/singer, Justin Edwards also known as MC Ultra.
She was in a relationship with N-Dubz bandmate Fazer from May 2010 but the relationship ended after an argument on holiday in early February 2012.
In 2012, Contostavlos had a brief relationship with Skins actor Jack O'Connell; it was reported they split due to incompatible work schedules.
In March 2012, a 6-minute sex tape of Contostavlos and her former lover Justin Edwards emerged on the internet. Contostavlos was granted an injunction (Contostavlos v Mendahun) that legally blocks the distribution of the tape. The injunction prohibits anyone from using, publishing, communicating or disclosing all or any part of the film to any other person.
Simon Cowell stated that the scandal would not affect her job on The X Factor. In the aftermath she later recorded a video response in which she clarified the relationship on her YouTube account "Tulisaconto", and stated that she was both heartbroken and devastated by Justin Edwards' release of the video.
In July 2012, she settled a legal action against Edwards, who apologised for releasing the tape. Her lawyer is still pursuing action against Edwards' former manager Chris Herbert, who has had his job as a consultant on The X Factor suspended.
On 4 June 2013, Contostavlos was arrested by police on suspicion of supplying class A drugs and bailed to a date in July 2013. It was revealed that two residential properties had been searched as part of the investigation. She was formally charged on 9 December with suspicion of class A drugs and appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 19 December where she denied the charge of being involved with the supply of 13.9 grams of cocaine. She was granted unconditional bail and then appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 9 January 2014. The trial date was set for 14 July 2014. The case was dismissed as the judge believed prosecution witness Mazher Mahmood had lied to the court. In April 2015, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, President of the Irish High Court, described her as having been "cruelly deceived in a shabby sting operation", but dismissed her attempt to sue the Irish Sun for defamation over the case as he was "astounded" by the delay in initiating legal proceedings.
Contostavlos is often regarded by the British media as a chav. Following the collapse of her drug trial, The Guardian's Suzanne Moore dismissed her reputation, and wrote: "Tulisa is famously a working class girl made good, though of course made good is never what she is allowed to be." In Moore's opinion: "Tulisa has been branded by the media as a chav and therefore almost anything can be said about her." Contostavlos herself also thought that her inferior reputation led her to the situation, saying: "Part of it I think is a class thing. With me I think they thought it would stick, it's more believable."
On 25 July 2014, Contostavlos was fined at a magistrates court in East London for assaulting a celebrity blogger Savvas Morgan at the V Festival, Essex in August 2013. In January 2014, she launched an appeal against her conviction of assaulting The Only Way Is Essex cast member Vas J Morgan. After two days of hearings she lost the appeal. On the outset of this, the judge said he believed that Tulisa had "lost control and struck Mr Morgan in the eye causing swelling". Tulisa's assault and court fines were lowered.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license