June 19, 1962 (age 48)
After a bumpy road of negotiations to join Simon Cowell's "The X Factor," Paula Abdul is ready to resume her seat behind the judging panel and get down to business.
"I am who I am," she told reporters before heading into the show's first round of auditions in Los Angeles. "I don't try to be or become anyone else. I am passionate, I've mentored and sought out talent over the past 20+ years and this is exactly where I'm supposed to be."
Abdul, whose position on "X Factor" was uncertain up until the moment she arrived at the taping, brushed off the controversy surrounding her last-minute decision, instead choosing to focus on the upside of her new gig: reuniting with Cowell, a close friend and fellow ex-"American Idol" judge.
"It will have been 3 years since we sat next to each other," she reminisced, adding, "It's awkward and wonderful at the same time."
Asked about what makes Cowell's show unique, Abdul emphasized the importance of hitting on a fresh dynamic with judges Antonio "L.A." Reid and Cheryl Cole and hosts Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones.
"I think what you get with this new group is that were all meeting each other for the first time," she said. "Getting into that chemistry of what's gonna happen, you have to throw it all away ... anything goes."
Abdul also discussed how she plans to adjust to the show's unique format, which searches for singers with overall star quality as opposed to just singing talent.
"We have a whole new approach. There are so many categories, different ages and styles -- I'm looking for not just potential."
"X Factor" is a co-production of Cowell's Syco Television, Fox and Fremantle North America. The series premieres in September on Fox.