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Malaya Watson on her 'Idol' Elimination: 'It Was in the Back of My Mind, But I Had Hope'

The youngest finalist in the Fox series' history sang "I Am Changing" from "Dreamgirls." She tells THR: "Trust me, I'm not the same Malaya."

American Idol Malaya Watson elim L
Frank Micelotta / FOX

Malaya Watson shed tears on Thursday night's American Idol results show as she was sent home with no chance for a save. The season 13 finalist cried even more after the live broadcast. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she explained how close she grew to be with all of her fellow contestants and how much she will miss them.

And that's not the only thing the youngest finalist in Idol history says she will miss. "Performing on the stage, because the stage is awesome. You can be yourself and no one is judging you. Well, they are judging you, because there are judges," Watson laughed. "But you can just do your thing whether they like it or not."

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Watson, a high school student from Southfield, Mich., sang "I Am Changing" from Dreamgirls as her exit song. This was the first week that the end-of-show performance wasn't a "sing for your life" situation, as the judges used their one save for the season last week when they kept Sam Woolf in the running.

THR asked Watson what she was thinking while singing the dramatic Broadway number. "Honestly, I don't remember," she replied. "I was just singing it. I chose that song because I am changing. Trust me, I'm not the same Malaya. I'm more focused on my music. I used to sing for the heck of it, because I was bored or because I like to sing. But now I'm focused on getting bigger and better with what I do. And I'm not as hyper." She paused for a millisecond and added, "That's a lie, I still am."

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Did Watson spend the 24 hours between Wednesday's performance show and Thursday night's results thinking about going home? "Everybody does," she responded. "We all think, 'Who's going home? It could be me, it couldn't be me.' It was in the back of my mind but I still had hope."

The teen's immediate plans are to finish high school and then continue singing as well as acting, in movies and/or television. "I used to act because I thought I couldn't sing. I tried acting because I had this big personality."

Asked if she had talked to her parents since being voted off the show minutes earlier, Watson told THR: "I said a couple of sentences to my mom. I haven't seen my dad yet." Marian Watson was standing just a few feet away, and THR was able to tell Malaya that immediately after the live show ended, her father was smiling, saying with confidence, "It's all good." Malaya said of her parents, "It was awesome having them here because they always had my back. They always had something to say, whether it was good or not good. They were always there for me."

Twitter: @fredbronson