'American Idol' Finalists: Where Are They Now?
When it comes to working in show business, the competition starts anew after graduating from the Fox hit. How did these ambitious contestants fare?
American Idol alumni are not unlike a military platoon, a fraternity pledge class or the cast of the Real World – 12 (or 13 this year) seemingly random people experiencing both a traumatic and exultant event in their lives, and one that will most certainly set the course for their future. And that’s not meant in the flowery way. For an Idol finalist, whether he or she comes in second or tenth, the lifetime affiliation and all that comes with it -- from adulation to annoyance -- is the same.
In fact, for most Idol grads, the competition starts again following the finale, as with each passing season, another dozen great talents enter the marketplace armed with name recognition in the tens of millions and looking for TV bookings, record deals, tours, studio time, etc.
For the Idols that decide to remain in L.A. after the show -- and a lot of them do -- it means having to be extra resourceful, thick-skinned and an expert networker. Not surprisingly, they often look to each other for support, creative flow and just a general sense of familiar empathy, which is one reason why we thought, in honor of Idol’s tenth anniversary, to gather 30 Idol grads (well, technically 29 and one vocal coach) who not only made it to Hollywood, but resolved to stay and work in entertainment. You might be surprised at what some former cast-offs are doing now.
Follow the outline to locate the alums listed below.
1. Kristin Holt Adams
- Currently Hosting G4tv's X-Play and this fall's GT Academy on Speed Channel.
- Formerly Girl who fell during audition; Lindsay Lohan's backup singer.
- If she could change her Idol elimination song... "Song selection was my biggest problem. I would have changed every song I sang when I competed on Idol! And My outfits -- pink sequined top and white pants! What was I thinking?
2. Anthony Fedorov
- Currently Releasing debut single, "You're Perfect," on June 29 with full album to come; Starring in touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
- Formerly Top 4 contestant who beat the odds despite tracheotomy.
- What he's learned about show business since his time on Idol... "That Idol will only take you so far once you’re done with the show. After Idol, it’s all up to you to take advantage of your opportunities. Patience is the most important thing in this business. You’ll hear a lot more no than yes.
3. Antonella Barba
- Currently Singer in local rock band LA-eX.
- Formerly Jersey Shore-raised Idol hopeful with racy-picture past.
- Favorite L.A. haunt... "There's a margarita joint on the promenade in Santa Monica and I love the tequila. Also, El Carmen has over 200 types of tequila."
4. Becky O'Donohue
- Currently Ashley on Spike TV's Thunderballs; the voice of Breakstone's sour cream.
- Formerly After making the Top 24, roles in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, CSI: Miami and ER.
5. Jared Cotter
- Currently Sharing songwriting credit on Jay Sean's No. 1 hit "Down."
- Formerly Giving spirit fingers to Top 24 viewers; Host on Fuse TV
- Favorite L.A. haunt... "Sunday Funday, cool vibe and cool people."
6. Ace Young
- Currently Starting his label, Herrick Music; writing songs with Kimberley Locke; MTV pilot.
- Formerly Idol heartthrob; Grammy nominee.
- Thoughts on Season 10... "My country boy is kicking ass! My guy is gonna win!"
7. Kimberley Locke
- Currently Working on new music project with Ace Young; ABC's The Revolution.
- Formerly Celebrity Fit Club grad.
- What she's learned about show business since her time on Idol... "That when you’re off of Idol, that’s when the real work begins. You learn to be about your business."
8. Luke Edgemon
- Currently Member of the Warblers on Glee.
- Formerly Hollywood Week castoff.
- What he's learned about show business since his time on Idol... "To never take a single moment for granted and to always strive for better. In L.A., being surrounded by so many phenomenal talents, it's good for me to be a not-so-big fish in a huge pond because it pushes me toward a level of excellence that I've never reached before. I can't wait for what's next!"
9. Matthew Rogers
- Currently Host of Lifetime's hit Coming Home, he also wrote and sang the theme song.
- Formerly Hosted Idol Extra, Discovery's Really Big Things; serenaded Simon Cowell with Lonestar's "Amazed."
- What it felt like to walk into THR's reunion shoot... "Like a family reunion. It's good to see a lot of success in this room."
10. Michael Johns
- Currently Working on new music with help from Idol's Randy Jackson.
- Formerly Aussie hottie. (OK, currently, too.)
11. Tim Urban
- Currently Performing new song on Eco Hollywood (CBS, May 28); finishing debut album.
- Formerly Known as "Teflon Tim" for constantly dodging Idol elimination.
- Thoughts on Season 10... "It's always funny watching the process and where the controversies will come from. I think they’re really talented, but I’m more curious about what happens afterward. I’m really curious to see where Casey Abrams will fit after the show, he can do so many things. Little Lauren has a huge voice and is just blowing it away. And Scotty, country music is so ready for a young guy to step up."
12. Lakisha Jones
- Currently Pursuing her acting career.
- Formerly Spent two years starring as Sofia in Broadway's The Color Purple.
13. Elliott Yamin
- Currently Working on his third album (just released in Japan) and shopping for a new deal.
- Formerly Second runner-up and Paula's pet.
14. Debra Byrd
- Currently One of three American Idol vocal coaches.
- Formerly Backup singer for Barry Manilow; the original and only Idol vocal coach on Season 1.
- What it felt like to walk into THR's reunion shoot... "I’m very impressed with how they've found their way in show business. They don’t all have record deals, but they are finding their way to their hearts desire and I applaud them all. They have courage... To be sent home in front of millions is hard to take, and they all have thick skin. I know what that journey feels like. They inspire me."
15. Syesha Mercado
- Currently Starring in the Marvin Winans movie Dreams; releasing debut EP, Syesha, in June.
- Formerly Third-placer; Deena in Dreamgirls.
- What it was like to walk into THR's reunion shoot... "It seems like we all speak the same language. We all went through that bootcamp together. Idols understand other Idols."
16. David Archuleta
- Currently Promoting his second album, The Other Side of Down.
- Formerly Beloved Idol runner-up; Miranda Cosgrove's crush on iCarly.
- What he's learned about show business since his time on Idol... "That I had what it took to do more than I thought I could."
17. Pia Toscano
- Currently Interscope's next big thing.
- Formerly Presumptive Season 10 winner.
18. Vonzell Solomon
- Currently Working on an EP; vocalist in the off-Broadway show Burn the Floor.
- Formerly Second runner-up on season 4.
- If she could compete on a season of Idol other than her own... "It would be Season 10 because the new judges are more relaxed. However, performing for Simon Cowell was cool because I learned that I'm way stronger than I thought I was. I didn't crack under the pressure."
19. Diana Degarmo
- Currently Starring as Doralee in the national tour of 9 to 5: The Musical.
- Formerly After a stint in Broadway's Hairspray, she bared all for Hair.
- Thoughts on Season 10... "Paul McDonald is my buddy and I kept up to watch him. I like the new judges. Steven Tyler is giving the Fox lawyers a run for their money on a nightly basis. J. Lo is awesome and Randy is holding it down for the old school folks."
20. Mikalah Gordon
- Currently Pursuing an acting career; red-carpet reporting.
- Formerly Rachel Berry before there was a Rachel Berry.
21. Todrick Hall
- Currently Campaigning for "token black boy" role in Glee via viral video.
- Formerly Top 24 reject was part of the Tony-winning cast of Broadway's Memphis.
22. David Hernandez
- Currently Dancing in Louis Van Amstel's Ballroom With a Twist.
- Formerly First guy out of the Top 12
- Thoughts on Season 10... "It's cool to see new judges and all the changes they made. There's more focus on the voice this season, and a more positive spin on whole show. It felt like I was watching it for the first time."
23. Jackie Tohn
- Currently Appearing on Bravo's Platinum Hit with ex-Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.
- Formerly Top 36 reject.
- Thoughts on Season 10... "Casey is my favorite because he does the music I like. I like Haley, too. Her voice has no limit, but I want her to growl a little less."
- If she could change her Idol elimination song... "I should have sung 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' by Carole King."
24. Kris Allen
Season 8 WINNER!
- Currently Credited with writing Matthew Morrison's new single, "Still Got Tonight," which premieres on the Glee finale; working on songs for his second Jive album. "I could see myself doing more writing for other people," he says. "It's nice to be on the other side of things, and it's totally cool for somebody else to sing my songs."
- Formerly: Season 8 winner with a heart of gold.
- Thoughts on Season 10... The judges are nice. I think it has to change with the times to last and hopefully these changes will keep happening and things will get better. The talent is really good."
25. Didi Benami
- Currently Writing music for a fall release; pursuing acting.
- Formerly Season 9's crying girl.
- If she could change her Idol elimination song... "I had a choice between what I did and a cool rendition of Aaliyah's 'Try Again.' It was always one of my favorite songs. I don't regret it, but that song gets to the heart of the business: 'If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again.'"
- Favorite L.A. haunt: "Hotel Cafe is one of the best spots for all kinds of great artists to share their music, and Room 5 has a special place in my heart because its the first venue I started playing at in L.A."
26. Casey Abrams
- Currently Enjoying the perks of post-Idol fame; jamming.
27. Kimberly Caldwell
- Currently Hosting VH1's Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp; promoting her just-released Capitol debut, Without Regret.
- Formerly The bridge to all Idols as co-host (with Season 1's Justin Guarini) of TV Guide Network's Idol Wrap (R.I.P.)
28. Allison Iraheta
- Currently Writing songs for her second album.
- Formerly Fourth-place finisher who got to spend the summer on tour with Adam Lambert.
- What she's learned about show business since her time on Idol... "No more pop bull crap. A year after I was dropped from Jive, I really found my sound -- darker, bluesier, like Nine Inch Nails meets Lauryn Hill, sexy and different. I’m really proud of what I've done writing-wise."
29. Casey Carlson
- Currently New to L.A. In her words: "Fresh off the boat."
- Formerly Season 8 semi-finalist.
30. Blake Lewis
- Currently Hosting weekly Idol party at his house; making music.
- Formerly Idol's beat-boxing wonder and runner-up.
- If he could compete on a season of Idol other than his own... "I would have loved to go on tour with my homie Elliott Yamin, so Season 5 would be one of my top choices. But the top choice would be Season 10 -- the amazing production, money, and talent Fremantle, 19, and AI have put into the show this year is incredible. I want pyro!"
- If he could change his Idol elimination song... "I think my performance of 'This Is My Now' in the finale is what did me in. If I could go back and arrange it differently with more of my style, I would. Who knows, maybe I could have won it!"
Editor’s note: For those wondering, where were L.A. residents and Idol favorites Adam Lambert and David Cook? The latter had non-cancellable meetings apparently. The former? We’re not sure, but needless to say, we were beyond bummed that he couldn’t join our ridiculously fun shoot.
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