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NOV
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Taylor Hicks on His 'SVU' Role, Playing a Talent Show Judge and His Country Album (Video)

The reality alumnus will join Clay Aiken and Ashanti as judges on a fictional singing show for Wednesday's episode.

Taylor Hicks Ashanti Clay Aiken NBC - H 2013
NBC

Taylor Hicks may have gotten his start on television performing in front of the judges table, but on tonight's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the American Idol season-five winner gets promoted to his own seat.

Hicks will play one of three judges -- the other two being Idol season-two runner-up Clay Aiken and R&B star Ashanti -- on a fictional singing competition: American Diva.

PHOTOS: 'American Idol' Judges Past and Present: The Good, the Bad and the Boring

"Playing a talent show judge was cool because I was on the other side the actual judges table," Hicks tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Who doesn't want to channel their inner Simon Cowell?"

The 37-year-old soul singer had nothing but praise for his co-stars and enjoyed his time reuniting with Aiken (no slouch in the acting department, with guest-starring roles on 30 Rock and Scrubs, as well a slew of theater roles including a starring turn on Broadway in Spamalot) for the episode.

"Everyone was super nice and Ashanti was sweet too," he said.

In Wednesday's episode, "Dissonant Voices," Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is investigating a sexual abuse scandal that could ruin the career of a popular singing coach (played by Broadway star Billy Porter). Among the additional guest stars is X Factor season-two runner-up Carly Rose Sonenclar, who will play a contestant on American Diva. The show will air at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Read on for an inside look at the Alabama native's debut as a dramatic actor and a sneak peek into his forthcoming country record.

STORY: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks to Take the 'Paris' Stage

Tell us about your acting debut! How did you prepare for the role?

What a great debut! SVU is one of my favorite shows. When I got the call to appear and play myself, I jumped at the chance. Obviously I went over my lines, but playing yourself is a really great way to get your feet wet in the acting field. I enjoyed being on set and learning as much as I could about the scripted world.

You've done live theater before, and obviously television with Idol and The Choice -- how was it working with a script?

Working with a script is a challenge because obviously you have to remember lines. This was a small role, so you can see how learning a whole show would be difficult. If you love what you're doing it doesn't seem like work. I have been actively auditioning in the scripted department for a year now. I love having an acting coach. I was born on TV, meaning that's where I caught my break. So that's where I always have to be smart and revisit that medium as much as I can.

How are things going in Nashville? Anything you can talk about yet?

The country record is going really well. I have been in and out of the studio a lot lately. I am flying a lot between my residency at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and Nashville. I feel very blessed at this point in my career. I'm coming up on a decade in show biz. I'm very proud of that.

Watch a clip below:

Twitter: @MicheleAmabile