Connie Fisher shot to stardom after winning a TV talent show
The winner of BBC talent search programme How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? says some contestants on live TV talent shows should get paid.
Connie Fisher, 26, won the 2006 series looking for a new star of The Sound of Music, and then took the role on stage.
She backed calls by actors' union Equity for pay on shows like The X Factor to be paid, although she said it should not be at the audition stage.
She and fellow contestants were paid minimum Equity rates on the BBC show.
The Pembrokeshire actor and singer is starring in The Sound of Music in Cardiff.
The performers who reached the final stages of TV talent shows were providing entertainment and should get paid for it, she added.
"These people have trained, people like Alexandra Burke, they are talented performers and if you are a performer you should be paid for what you are doing whether you win the competition or not," she told BBC Radio Wales' lunchtime phone-in programme.
"It is a showcase and it is an opportunity and some may ask why should they be paid for that opportunity?
"But once you get to a live television programme you are Saturday night entertainment and Des O'Connor would not go on television and not get paid, would he?"
However, she said a line would have to be drawn somewhere with contestants who auditioned because "people don't get paid for a job interview".
Fisher, from Pembrokeshire, described the show she won as a "brilliant showcase" and said fellow contestants had gone onto bigger and better jobs because of it.
Performers' union Equity claimed TV talent shows such as The X Factor were guilty of "cheap exploitation" because they do not pay contestants.
It wants contestants who reach the final round this year to be paid and have legal status as workers.
But the show's producers said Equity rates did not apply and the shows were talent competitions and were therefore "not employment in their own right".
Fisher is currently playing Maria in a touring production of The Sound of Music which is nearing the end of its run at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.
At the end of the tour, the singer said she planned to move to Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan with her new fiancé, banker Jeremy Reed.