X-Factor has become essential Saturday night viewing for many fame seekers, and two former contestants have managed to launch a business to help youngsters reach for the stars.
Holly Cooper and James Collins, who made the live shows in 2012 with band Mitsotu, set up the MPA Academy in 2014 after an influx of messages from young people wanting to follow in their footsteps and sing and dance like them.
Holly says: “Shows like Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor are vital in providing a platform and exposure, and they make you feel like anything is possible
“We had already built up a following on Twitter and had kids asking us for tips so decided to set up our own academy.
We realised performing arts schools were pretty dated so we wanted to create something fresh, unique and young.”
Time to face the music
MPA Academy offers performing arts, singing, dancing, acting, acrobatics, ballet and specialises in street dance for anyone aged 3 to 18.
James and Holly met age 16 at performing arts college and now at 26 and 27 are passing on the benefits of their skills and knowledge.
For two so young, they have achieved a lot and come with an interesting CV.
Holly started her career age 5 featuring in adverts, ITV dramas music videos and danced in fashion shows around the world.
She then gained a scholarship at The Urdang Academy where she met James. Since leaving college her credits include The Brit Awards, ITV, The Wanted, X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent.
James has been dancing since the age of 7 and has toured with Janet Jackson. He is currently the assistant choreographer on Britain's Got Talent. He has also performed with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, One Direction, Nicole Sherzinger and Little Mix.
Holly explains that the kids at the academy benefit as they are taught by people from the industry, she says: “You can be taught by a teacher one week and then see them dancing on the X-Factor on a Saturday night.”
They started with two kids in one class at an academy in Kent, but now have 200 pupils across three academies, adding London and Gerrards Cross.
Britain’s got talent
As well as the teaching element, they are also helping nurture talent and pupils have already appeared in BBC dramas and as backing dancers on Britain’s Got Talent as well as various television adverts.
James says: “The key challenges are getting work. You need to create opportunities. The Academy keeps everyone motivated and works them hard."
Like most businesses, James and Holly started small with just the two of them running the academy, but now there are five altogether and they are planning on expanding globally as well as building on their clothing range.
The business can be found on all forms of social media, which they say plays a “huge part” in promoting the brand.
But ultimately what is driving them is belief.
James says: “Things don’t happen overnight, you need to be patient and have got to believe in yourself.
“Get up and do it, don’t wait around, be fearless.”