Stand out from the crowd, be yourself and be noticed.
That was the message from young stars at the launch of a countywide competition to find the brightest and newest talent.
The Talent Oxford contest, now in its third year, was launched at the Templars Square Shopping Centre in Cowley on Saturday.
It featured performances from local youngsters and X Factor contestant Kitty Brucknell, who hit the headlines for her outlandish behaviour on the reality show last year.
She said: “My message to young people would be to be original, don’t ever conform to the norm just because you think that’s what people want. It’s not at all.”
Talent Oxford will see dozens of acts compete in live auditions on June 30 and July 1 in front of a judging panel. It is the first time the contest has been opened up to the entire community, instead of just five to 18-year-olds.
Event organiser Lydiah Igweh said: “This is a very special year for us, as it is the first time anyone aged zero to 105 can take part.
“So we are expecting different people to come out of the woodwork – the weird and wonderful acts of Oxfordshire.”
The public will vote for the acts they want to see perform in front of an all-star panel and audience of hundreds at the live finals in October. The grand prize this year is £1,000 for the winner, as well as their own professional website, video showreel and photo shoot. They will also get the opportunity to go on a countywide school tour.
Taking centre stage on Saturday was 17-year-old Chelsea Sianga from Blackbird Leys, left, who got down to the final 16 of the girls in last year’s X Factor.
She said: “It was frightening to get up in front of the crowd, but I had fun up there.
“It is a good chance for people wanting to make it big.”
Up-and-coming star J-Sol, who has been signed by the Sony label, added: “The crowd were amazing. There are so many talented people here in Oxfordshire.”
S Club 8 star Stacey McClean and Got to Dance finalists Unity Dance Crew also starred.
Leanne Griffiths from Blackbird Leys added: “It’s a great competition, giving kids the chance to make something of themselves.”
Seven-year-old Annie May Samson from Witney had her picture taken with Kitty Brucknell.
She said: “It was amazing. I’m a big fan of Kitty.”
For more information about the contest, click on the link.