'At 19 I auditioned for X Factor. It completely broke me.'

Lauren Karan (then known as Lauren Dennis) was 19-years-old and all she had even known was singing. Since she first picked up a microphone as a little girl and let the notes flow, she was hooked.

All she ever dreamed about was making it as a professional singer.

Then she auditioned for the first season of X Factor Australia and everything came crashing down.

Watch: Leona Lewis' The X Factor audition. Post continues after video.

Video via X Factor.

The year was 2005, and the nation had fallen in love with the idea of plucking a superstar from obscurity with Australian Idol becoming an overnight success. Lauren knew auditioning for a reality talent show could be the big break she needed to launch her dreams. So, she gave it a crack.

"I kind of saw it as having the option to be able to show what I could do and kick start the process to get more exposure and be able to have a career in singing," she told Mamamia. "I was studying psychology at the time, but my goal initially was to be a professional singer."

Having not watched the UK version of X Factor, Lauren naively entered auditions and was quickly rocked by the gravity of being on a high-profile reality TV show. As she looked around, it dawned on her how cutthroat the process was.


"I was the last to audition on one of the days," she said. "You're watching them (the other contestants) and you're like, 'oh my gosh, like, I've got to go after this person.' Your competitors are standing up before you and you're watching them on stage and then you've got to go up and perform."

After making it through a few rounds of auditions Lauren found herself in the top 30 for her 16-24 year age group. Despite looking promising, the pressure was palpable. The cameras, the competitiveness, the producers in her ear telling her she wasn't going to make it through. It was coming down on her and she felt like she was going to break.

Image: Supplied.


"I was 19, you're not really secure in yourself yet," she said. "And there's still all of those insecurities which come with becoming a woman as well. And then, then you're thrown into that environment. It's challenging."

Then finally, her nerves got to her, and she didn't make it through.

Lauren was crushed.

"I completely stuffed up my audition," she said. "I was devastated afterwards for two weeks. I didn't want to sing anymore. Because I was like, 'well, if I can't perform and show up when it matters I'm obviously not gonna be a great singer.'"

In a split second, all of her dreams were shattered. Singing was all she had ever wanted to do. What was she supposed to do with her life now?

"I still remember going home on the plane and sort of feeling like I'd failed," she said. "You know, that was my dream that I'd always wanted and I'd failed. And there is a level of real deep sadness."

In the weeks that followed Lauren took a step back to process what had happened. In a moment of soul searching she discovered that perhaps this whole experience had taught her that this was not the path for her.

"It made me realise, I don't want a career in the entertainment industry," she said. "I'm going to get rejected more times - do I want it enough? And the answer was no."


Despite the hard truths she learned from going on X Factor, there was a silver lining to what she went through. Lauren decided to follow a different career path and landed in a sales manager role for recruitment. After having her two children she found her calling by setting up a boutique recruitment agency, Karan & Co, which is focused on helping women re-enter the workforce after having children.

"This flexibility and honouring the family and the family unit as well as work has been a game changer for me," she said. "And I will offer that to other mums because it can be this way and it can work. And I want to lead from the front and show that it does work."

It has been twenty years since Lauren was on X Factor and she has come a long way since then. Reminiscing about her brush with fame, she says that she'd do it all again.

"No, I definitely don't regret it," she said. "If I hadn't gone on there, I wouldn't have been able to divert course and realise that my life that I wanted was different. It showed me what the better path was for me."

These days Lauren still loves to sing, but she keeps it for herself. The bright lights weren't for her but her experience on X Factor wasn't all for nothing. She's ended up exactly where she was always meant to be.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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