Her Eurovision 2021 song “Growing Up Is Getting Old” discusses the ties that bind us and the importance of being around the ones you love. And it’s now clear that Bulgaria’s VICTORIA understands the delicacy of these bonds more than you may realise.
“My father is diagnosed with a very rare disease which is ALS — Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” she said on Sunday during Tursi Se (The Search) — one of her country’s most popular shows.
“We found out a few months ago. And it came to us totally unexpected. In this whole pandemic and everything else which is going on in the world. This just piled on, along with other things that happened in 2020, so it is really difficult for us now.”
The condition, which many of you will remember as the inspiration for the Ice Bucket Challenge, causes people to slowly lose motor neurons which control voluntary muscles. It can begin with weakness in the arms or legs before impacting a person’s ability to eat, speak and breathe. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neurone disease (MND). You can read more about the condition on the Mayo Clinic web site.
VICTORIA discusses her father’s ALS diagnosis on “Tursi Se”
Given all that she’s going through, it’s understandable that she described her experiences in 2021 as “bittersweet.”
Thankfully, a series of surprise guests were on hand to help comfort her. They included her producer Genoveva Christova, her father Petar, her mother Zvezdalina, her sister Simona, her first boyfriend and childhood friend Drago and her close friend and the director of her music videos Victoria Karakoleva.
“There is no fear in her eyes,” her father said. “She is strong and supports me a lot. She has always encouraged me to be strong and positive to fight the disease…I want to thank her and I love her very much.”
The past year has changed the singer in profound ways and strengthened her bond with her parents. “I started saying ‘I love you’ to my family more often,” she says. “I know they love me very much and I love them. These three words are very strong.”
“I grew up a lot at that point last year. Over the last year, someone poured me something and said — ‘grow up, you have to!’ Not that I wanted to grow up, but it happened. I feel more mature and more secure now.”
We are proud of our #Eurovision 2021 artist @victoriageorge_ for opening up about her father's ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) diagnosis. This is a rare disease and her speaking up about it will bring more attention towards the challenges people with ALS face in #Bulgaria. pic.twitter.com/nFGuNXfJqN
— iCard Eurovision Bulgaria ?? (@bg_eurovision) April 11, 2021
VICTORIA also revealed the pressure she felt to lose weight prior to joining her current label.
“I believe [the weight gain] came from a lot of stress, because things with the label I was with before Ligna Studios were going great in the beginning. But maybe we just could not click with the team. In a way, they just didn’t get to know me enough. Maybe I also didn’t give them enough space to get to know me. It goes both ways, yes, it’s always mutual, on both sides.”
“But there was a period in which they were forcing me to lose weight. And this was just a little too much for me…I kept diets, started going to do fitness, which is something I really hated because I believe it’s something that has to come from within, that you have to want yourself. The motivation has to come within you and not from somebody telling you, ‘Now you have to do this just because you have to!’ That’s when I started going to the gym and became totally obsessed.”
“Everyday I weighed myself at home and one day I just collapsed on top of the scales, saying, ‘Nothing is happening!’ I deprived myself of so much for very low calorie intakes. For 2 months I lost around 6 kilograms. At that point things were really not going well with the label so we just kind of let go of each other, we went our separate ways. I fell into a huge emotional hole — depression. The motivation to move forward came from [my current manager] Genoveva and my new team.”
Genoveva Christova from Ligna Studios saw VICTORIA’s emotional turmoil.
“The fact that she was losing the interest of the Bulgarian audience back in 2017 made her doubt herself, whether she can make it. That was a very difficult time for her. She gained а lot of weight. She developed personal issues because of that. What we decided then when we got together, I remember, with a few people we said, ‘Alright, we have to do something…’ So, I said, ‘I know what!’ and we sent her to Berklee. Go, outside of Bulgaria, see how it is there and have perspective.”
“What came back was an absolutely different person! I saw a complete change in her! First, she got herself together and said ‘I’m sick of being overweight!’ I couldn’t believe the metamorphosis that had taken place! She lost 20kg in four months. And now she is 30kg below what she was at previously. In this case she proved to herself that she can, because if she doesn’t do it, no one could change her mindset.”
We are sending our very best wishes to Queen Victoria. We believe in you. We love you. We know you will continue to inspire your family and your fans.