Nicole Scherzinger (born Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente) was born on June 29, 1978 and is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and television personality.
Scherzinger was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Alfonso Valiente of Filipino descent and Rosemary Elikolani Frederick of Native Hawaiian and Ukrainian descent. Her mother considered abortion as Scherzinger was conceived when she was 17 years old.
After her father left the family at the age of two, Rosemary went on to marry German-American Gary Scherzinger, who adopted Nicole, and whose surname she eventually took. She has a younger sister, Keala. At age six, they moved for Louisville, Kentucky, where her mother was a clerk, and her step-father was a welder. Scherzinger describes her upbringing as difficult as she grew up “without much money” and supported her parents by being a waitress, taking local modelling jobs, and being part of an entertainment troupe of the local amusement park, Kentucky Kingdom. With her grandfather a priest, Scherzinger was raised as Roman Catholic and considered herself conservative with “really strong religious beliefs” and would go to church twice a week in order to make her mother proud.
At the age of 14, she enrolled in the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she was cast in her first professional play, La Bête. She graduated in 1996 from the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) at duPont Manual High School, where she participated in many plays, including Alice in Wonderland, in which she portrayed Alice. Scherzinger was surprised she got the part as she was up “against a girl with blue eyes and blonde hair.” In 2007, she was inducted to DuPont Manual Alumni’s Hall of Fame as one of the youngest inductees. Since 2013, Scherzinger has endowed YPAS with a yearly $2,000, namesake scholarship. After earning a scholarship, she attended Wright State University and majored in theatre arts with a dance minor. During this period, Scherzinger garnered the lead roles in regional productions of the musicals Chicago, Guys and Dolls, and Show Boat. In her final year of college, Scherzinger was hired by Days of the New band leader Travis Meeks to contribute vocals on their self-titled second studio album. Meeks sought out a singer who could “deliver some more world/operatic textures and sounds.” The album’s supporting tour followed which led Scherzinger to drop out of college. Towards the tour’s conclusion, Meeks stated that the two grew apart creatively, claiming she “didn’t seem to understand music very well” but noted she was an “amazing entertainer.” In 2018, Scherzinger received the 2017 Alumna of the Year Award from the Wright State Alumni Association.
In 2001, Scherzinger’s mother, saw a commercial for the WB’s television show Popstars USA, a reality series with the aim to chronicle the group’s formation until the recording of their debut album, Warner Bros. imprint London-Sire Records signed the group to a recording contract before the band was named and had finalized its membership, due to the hours of network television exposure the group would receive. Initially reluctant to audition, Scherzinger later opted otherwise as she saw it as an opportunity to travel to Los Angeles. For her audition she sang Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You” and alongside Ana Maria Lombo, Maile Misajon, Ivette Sosa, and Rosanna Tavarez, established the girl group Eden’s Crush. They went on to tour with ‘N Sync and Jessica Simpson, but, by the end of the year, their label went bankrupt and the group disbanded. During this time, will.i.am, front man of The Black Eyed Peas, approached Scherzinger to become a member of the group, but her then-boyfriend, declined. Following the band’s dissolution, Scherzinger took a detour in acting and guest-starred in television shows such as My Wife and Kids (2002) and had a cameo in the independent comedy, Chasing Papi (2003).
In August 2003, opting for a solo recording contract, Scherzinger travelled to Arista Records office in New York with a demo CD, under her Hawaiian family name, Nicole Kea, of her own written material. Her performance was interrupted by a citywide blackout, and she was forced to leave. Meanwhile, Robin Antin, the creator of the burlesque troupe, the Pussycat Dolls, struck a joint venture with Interscope Records and along with record producers Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair, launched an open audition for a separate recording group. After will.i.am recommended Scherzinger to Iovine, and in hopes to obtain a solo deal, she successfully auditioned in December 2003 along with Melody Thornton joining Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt. As the lead singer, Scherzinger assumed the majority of the vocals and is the only member of the group to have songwriting credits on their debut album, PCD which was released in September 2005. The album was preceded by “Don’t Cha” which became their international breakthrough.
Following the group’s breakup in 2010, Scherzinger successfully ventured into television winning the tenth season of Dancing with the Stars and becoming a judge on The Sing-Off and on both US and UK versions of The X Factor. She released her debut solo album, Killer Love (2011), which was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The album spawned the UK number-one single “Don’t Hold Your Breath”, as well as the international top-ten hits “Poison” and “Right There”. In 2014, Scherzinger released her second album Big Fat Lie and starred on the West End revival of the musical Cats. Since then, she shifted her focus back to television, winning I Can Do That (2015), co-hosting Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (2015), appearing as panelist on Bring the Noise (2015), and starring in the television film Dirty Dancing (2017). She is currently a judge on the Fox musical competition show The Masked Singer.
Scherzinger has named Whitney Houston as her idol and biggest influence. She said that she wanted to be “Whitney Houston growing up” and praised the singer’s vocal abilities and stage presence. As she grew older she also listened to artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Roberta Flack, Sade, Alanis Morissette, and Tina Turner. She has also stated that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music has been influential to her as an artist as she grew up listening to musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita. Following the death of Prince in late of April 2016, Scherzinger posted a lengthy tribute citing him as a “mentor” and “inspiration” to her career. While on stage Scherzinger borrows personas of Tina Turner and Mick Jagger.
Scherzinger has also incorporated her Hawaiian heritage into her music; her single “Puakenikeni” (2007) was named after the flower that is indigenous to that state. The music video of the song “Right There” featured Hawaiian and Tahitian fashion and dance moves. Stylistically, Scherzinger draws inspiration from Jennifer Lopez, Sienna Miller, and Gwen Stefani. During her twenties, Scherzinger tried to emulate Lopez by dying her hair blonde.
Scherzinger is also very vocal when it comes to bullying. She believes in acceptance and recalls receiving knock backs and the message of her music releases show how she dealt with them.
She admits it is “frustrating” to read about the media’s portrayal of her as “a man-eater”. Scherzinger has been linked to a number of different men, but insists none of the rumors are true. In July 2013, Scherzinger posed semi-nude for a “Protect the Skin You’re In” T-shirt, part of a campaign by fashion designer Marc Jacobs to raise awareness and cash for melanoma research. All sales benefited the NYU Cancer Institute and NYU Langone Medical Center.
In February 2013, Scherzinger was honored by the Harvard Foundation as “2013 Artist of the Year” for her contributions in performing arts, support for breast cancer research and initiatives for adults and children with special needs. In April 2013, she was awarded with the “Outstanding Achievement in Music Award” at the Asian Awards for “inspiring achievements in the fields of business, sport, entertainment, philanthropy and popular arts and culture”.
Scherzinger considers herself shy and keeps her personal life to herself and declines to answer questions in interviews that pertain to her relationships.
In late 2012, Scherzinger spoke of her experiences with bulimia at the height of the Pussycat Dolls popularity. Struggling with body dysmorphia, an early photoshoot with the group triggered her bulimic behavior, that lasted nearly a decade. She eventually overcame the disorder through therapists and life coaches.
She considers herself as anti-abortion, she is a supporter of LGBTQ rights and in 2017, through Billboard, Scherzinger published a “love letter” to the LGBTQ community in which she praised the community for “standing strong against adversity and [for being] a community that unites for change.”
Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, along with various other artists, she was featured on the charity single “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”, and participated in George Clooney’s and Wyclef Jean’s Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief telethon which benefited people affected by the tragedy. In October 2010 she portrayed Trixie at the 35th anniversary concert of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which raised money for the Painted Turtle, a Hole in the Wall Foundation camp for kids with serious medical conditions. Inspired by her aunt who has Down syndrome, she became a global ambassador for the Special Olympics and recorded “O Holy Night” for A Very Special Christmas (2013) with all proceeds benefiting the organization. Since 2014 Scherzinger is an UNICEF UK supporter and has traveled to Guyana, Manila, Philippines, and Kenya, where she visited the organization’s supported centers benefiting children in poverty. She later performed “Brave” with the SU2C choir for Stand Up 2 Cancer to raise money for cancer research on October 17, 2014.
Scherzinger along with numerous other artists was featured on the single “Love Song to the Earth”, which was released in September 2015 ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, as part of the global campaign to raise awareness on climate change. In September 2016, Scherzinger along with numerous other artists was featured on the remake of the Black Eyed Peas song “Where Is the Love?” where all proceeds went towards will.i.am’s non-profit foundation, i.am.angel Foundation. In August 2019, she took part in the protests against the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea; a place considered a holy spiritual site for native Hawaiians.