'The Four' Standout Sharaya J Gets Real About Battling Cancer (Exclusive)
Sharaya J is a fighter.
The Atlanta-based rapper quickly earned fan-favorite status on Fox’s The Four for her fiery rhymes, but behind the scenes, she’s fighting an even larger battle with breast cancer.
“Prior to the show, I did take a couple seconds to really think about hopping on it because I knew that during the process of the show, I would still be going through chemotherapy,” she tells ET, speaking backstage at a recent taping. “I’ve had a couple rounds before the show and dealing with some really tough side effects sometimes with it. I just had to pray on it and I just got a sign from the creator — told me to move forward and, ‘I got you.’ So I just take it day by day, show by show, and trust that everything will be good.”
Sharaya is one of only two competitors left from the season’s original four, alongside crooner James Graham.
“Even before we filmed the first episode, we’d done photo shoots and stuff, so I’ve known her for a while now and we spent a lot of time together in one room with not a lot to do for hours, so I really got to know her a lot quicker than you’d get to know someone normally,” Graham tells ET. “I really, really care about her. I love Sharaya, she’s great. And what she’s going through, I didn’t even know until she did her package in the trailer. I didn’t know! I looked at her, literally, onstage, I looked at her and was like ‘What?’ She didn’t speak about it. I thought she shaved her hair because she looks great. But when I found out, I was shocked.
“I want her to win,” he adds with a laugh. “I think she’s incredible. Regardless of that, she’s so talented. I don’t see anyone coming in and beating her, at all.”
Sharaya admits that there were many people in her life that first found out about her diagnosis through the show.
“I had all these calls like, ‘Girl, how you not gonna tell me?'” she says. “Even with the show, when I initially auditioned, they didn’t know either, which made me feel good because they really wanted me to be on this show because of my talent.”
“I just decided if I was to step on here, I would walk in my truth,” she adds. “So I just owned it and here I am still defending my seat.”
The 34-year-old says she’s received an outpouring of support from viewers over the past few weeks.
“I feel like every time I get on that stage, I’m taking all those people with me,” she says. “They may be sending me texts and messages saying how inspired they are, but that’s inspirational and healing for myself to be able to get up there and know that people are showing up and tuning in so that they could just see me up there. I’m just gonna give it my 150 percent every time.”
The Four airs Thursdays on Fox. For more from Sharaya, watch the video above.