Rylan Clark says he “knew he was the joke” when he appeared on the X Factor in 2012, but has since learned to embrace and blur his on- and off-screen lives.
The TV personality said he was an industry “newbie no more” and now enjoyed the fame he had long since desired.
Speaking to the i newspaper, Clark discussed his childhood, struggles with mental health and various run-ins with negative press throughout his career.
As well as being the current host of Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, Clark has won Celebrity Big Brother and presented various shows including This Morning, Eurovision, The One Show, Radio 2.
But it was on Simon Cowell’s popular singing contest that he originally found the spotlight.
“I was the joke, but I knew I was the joke,” he told the i.
“I can sing. But I weren’t supposed to sing on The X Factor. There is a box for every single person on there, and I ticked the ‘gay stereotype joke’ box.”
“I could either stand there and sing and hope to get through, along with a million other auditionees, or I could play the game… and have an argument with Gary Barlow.”
Clark recently published a book, titled Ten: The Decade That Changed My Future, in which he discusses having imposter syndrome throughout his career.
“I think I’ve always seen myself as the newbie,” he said.
“But I’m not the newbie no more. So I shouldn’t have to be polite to that person that’s being rude to me.
“I’m nice to everyone in this industry – I always have been, I always will be. But actually, if you cross me, I will f**king ruin you.”