Remember the name Celeste Buckingham, because she is an international force to be reckoned with! The 18-year old singer-songwriter was born in Switzerland, relocated to and lived in Alaska until she was 3, then moved to Slovenia where she grew up and started writing music at the age of 12. She became a huge hit in Czech Republic and Slovakia with her breakout single ‘Run Run Run‘ which has also been making waves in the US, being named by Billboard magazine as one of their weekly ‘Bubbling Under’ artists.
An MTV EMA (European Music Awards) nomination for the aforementioned single has solidly cemented her as a woman who is crossing all territorial boundaries, and doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon. She has a very extraordinary musical journey, which matches her extraordinary life. Right now she is a judge on the Czech-Slovak version of ‘The X Factor’ and is the youngest judge ever on a show in the X Factor franchise!
Celeste took some time out of her crazy schedule to chat to us about a very special project that is dear to her heart, working with Pitbull (Mr. Worldwide meets Ms. Worldwide, makes sense!) and the pressures on women in the music industry.
Tell us briefly about your musical background and how you got where you are today.
I’ve been singing since I can remember, but I started going to singing classes when I was 7. I stared writing my own songs with my younger sister when I was 12, and when I was 15 I auditioned for a European version of American Idol. I got through to the finals, and after that I started officially recording and releasing music. I’ve been doing that ever since, and now I’m working on my music here in the USA with my friend, rapper, and mentor Pitbull.
How did Pitbull become one of your fans?
He actually discovered my music video on YouTube. Apparently, he watched 30 seconds of the video, and then he reached out. A few months later I was officially working with Mr. Worldwide!
Who would be your dream collaborator and why?
There are a few, I can’t just pick one. I would love to work with Maroon 5. They write great songs, they’re great musicians, and you can tell they enjoy what they do. Its great pop music, and I have almost all their songs on my iPhone! I’d also really love to work with Mikky Eko, who wrote “Stay” and performed it with Rihanna. He’s an incredible writer, and also has a really unique style. Some of my other favorites are Ryan Tedder from One Republic, Imagine Dragons, and Adele.
You are a judge on the X Factor Slovakia (the youngest X Factor judge ever) how did that come about?
‘The X Factor’ called my European manager, and asked if I was interested in being a judge on the show. I was super excited! Then I started doing some research, and found out that I was the youngest X-Factor Judge ever. I was amazed! Its such an honor working with a franchise that gives teens like me a chance to fulfill their dreams and become the singers and entertainers. I’m thrilled that just three years ago, I was auditioning for a European version of American Idol, and now I’m the youngest judge on the first ever Czech and Slovak X-Factor!
As a young woman surrounded by so much pressure to look and act a certain way, how do you stay true to yourself?
It’s harder to be yourself when you work in show business. The lights, the cameras, the demand to fit in and look like a supermodel at all times – I try not to get into that. What makes me unique is that I am always myself. I put my heart and soul into my music, my performing, my work, and anything important to me. Believing in yourself is key. Now this is definitely easier said than done, but you have to trust your instincts, even when everyone turns their back on you and tells you you’re wrong. Stay true to yourself. Always. You’ll never regret it.
Tell us about your song “I’m not Sorry” and the message behind it?
“I’m Not Sorry” is a song I wrote for a cause that is very close to me. Girls who live in the US and in other parts of the western world can sometimes take things for granted like going to school, dating who we want, choosing a career, living where we want, and wearing what we want. But in many parts of the world, women don’have that freedom taken away from them solely because of her gender. We can make all these choices, but they can’t. I believe that women should not have to apologize or feel guilty or shamed for being a woman. We are all skilled, talented, and beautiful. I’m not sorry for being a woman, and neither should anyone else.
You are worked with Care.org to release the music video for International Women’s Day 2014, why is this cause important to you?
For those of us who were born into safe homes, provided with the opportunity and means to achieve lofty goals, attended school and university, and able to aspire to something greater, it is our job to help those who didn’t have these opportunities. It’s important to make the world a better place, and that has to start somewhere. I partnered with Care.org to promote the message of “I’m Not Sorry” so we can all work together to make a difference.
Who are your female role models?
I have a large range of role models! From women like Eleanor Roosevelt to Angelina Jolie; it’s the women who fight for her rights who inspire me. My mother is also a huge role model for me because of her achievements and her ability to overcome any hardship and obstacle. Anyone who faces hard times and does not succumb to peer pressure, opposition, and self doubt are all my role models.
Do you see a huge difference in the way women are treated and represented in Europe than America?
It’s hard to compare America and Europe because it’s like comparing apples to oranges – they’re so different. The US is a true melting pot of all sorts of backgrounds and cultures where citizens have equal rights. In Europe, there are many smaller countries, each with their own identity and political setup. Some countries are fully emancipated, others are religious (Christian, Muslim, etc), and others are considered sectarian. These differences affect issues of equality, especially gender equality. If you compare Western Europe, such as Germany, France, and the UK, I think they are more similar to the United States in terms of treatment of women.
Why do you think women need better representation in the media and in entertainment?
I think the portrayal of women has always been sort of unrealistic. Some movies paint women as damsels in distress, while others show them capturing bad guys in full hair, makeup, and wardrobe AND wearing 6 inch heels! It just seems so far from reality!
Other times, women are objectified as sex symbols. Their physical characteristics are the only reasons they receive attention and praise. There’s so much more to a woman than her looks – her personality, character, compassion, work ethic, and goals and achievements are so important and oftentimes overlooked. I think this is very harmful especially for young girls as they are learning about themselves and trying to be comfortable in their own skin. This image of what is desirable and beautiful shouldn’t be defined by photoshopped images and the sexy character from a movie.
What advice would you give to young women who are trying to get into the music industry?
Be true to yourself. It’s a tough world out there. Show business is very hard to get into, and it’s also a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. You work a lot of long days, get little sleep, and don’t get to spend as much time with friends and family as you’d like to. People try to push you to become their version of “perfect”. But life doesn’t work that way and nobody’s perfect. You need to stay “you”, because that’s what makes you unique and special. Believe in yourself and work hard, and you’re bound to get far.