And it’s not just about music as, at the time of going to press, we were about to see if she can transfer her charms to the big screen, making her debut in Walking on Sunshine, a love story set in the stunning Puglia region of Italy.Leona ditches the pathos of Bleeding Love – a single which strode to the top of the charts in over 30 countries – in favour of 1980s sing-along tunes.Then you get other places like the Camden Roundhouse – I love the style and majesty of singing in those sorts of buildings.’ Will Universal actively encourage Leona to pursue more acting work? ‘Yes, it’s something I would definitely consider, but I don’t think right now I could because I’ve got so many other commitments.We can certainly see her replacing Beverley Knight in the West End’s illustrious The Bodyguard. However, I would like to do a bit of theatre again. For me it’s about continuing to do what I’m good at, but bringing in the odd unexpected project as well.‘It was my first character acting role and a brilliant experience – very different to singing, but very enjoyable.’ And while we appreciate Islington cannot offer the glorious beaches and stunning cliff-top walks of Puglia, the Londoner is quick to recommend a rather more local spot that evokes for her feelings of romance and contentment.‘Well, there’s a really nice secret garden in Islington,’ she says coyly.But to me, it's been in phases." Born in London, Lewis grew up with two brothers ("They helped me be quite tough") and attended the likes of the Italia Conti Academy and The Brit School, where she did a spot of acting and musical theatre. I came out of the audition and my mum and dad were supposed to pick me up, but they weren't there. "There are so many new phases going on, I've not really got my head around that.Seven years after her X Factor win - in which time she sold over 20million albums and singles worldwide, and became a multi-millionaire - she felt the time was right to "seek out a part, as I really wanted to be in a musical". I started walking and tripped over in the street and the directors were behind me. It doesn't really affect me, it's just another number," she says, shrugging.
"He helped me launch myself, so I owe a lot to him.
‘For me, the real spirit of an area is in its people and those little bars and clubs where some of the best talent emerges from,’ she says.
‘I was lucky enough to be able to progress through the Sylvia Young Drama School [at its former Marylebone home, before it moved to Westminster in 2010], but there’s so much energy and spirit around Islington and it’s so good to see that talent coming through.
Leona Lewis may no longer be with Simon Cowell, but don’t think for one second the Islington-born singer’s star is on the wane as she makes her big screen bow in Walking on Sunshine With a musical repertoire spanning contemporary, opera, jazz and blues, it’s been eight years since Leona Lewis was hailed as the saviour of X Factor (according to one Simon Cowell). ‘Musically, I’m as excited now as I have ever been,’ she begins. I’ve really found a new home in the people at Universal, a new family, and I’m so excited to start working with everyone there.’ Leona’s current good mood is infectious.
Winning X Factor earned her a £1million recording contract with Syco, Cowell’s entrepreneurial collaboration with Sony, but it was revealed earlier this year that the two have parted ways. Perhaps it’s her effortless grace, or years of charming the press, but within minutes we fall under her spell.