George Jenkins High School graduate + Lakelander Kimmy Gabriela spoke with us about her American Idol experience, what surprised her about the process, meeting the judges + more. Pssst…Kimmy’s new single “Like a Fool” is now live on all music platforms. 🎤
Q: What’s one thing about the American Idol process that you were really surprised about? Something you thought it worked one way, but it was totally different?
A: The way that the live shows occur. Granted, we didn’t get to do the real live shows but we started preparing them! I was always so curious…were those live shows really live, you know? Or are they pre-recorded? I always assumed that it was filmed during the day and air during the night or the day before. To my surprise, a lot of the show is completely pre-recorded with a live audience so it’s still “live,” but it’s not broadcasted live. Shows were recorded weeks in advance.
Q: Given the pandemic and the way that American Idol had to pivot to having their finals at-home, do you think you’ll enter the contest again to see if you can get the finals experience in Hollywood?
A: American Idol was the best nine months of my life regardless of the unexpected turn of events brought on by COVID-19. Although I would keep an open mind about returning to the show, I truly feel that idol was a necessary experience for me but I’m ready to start moving forward with my career!
Q: Did you ever hang out or party with the judges?
A: As contestants, we spend a lot of time together. We are always in the same area, and even if we were offset, we were always hanging out/spending quality time together. We were a very close group! However, we didn’t get to spend a lot of off-camera time with the judges because they were very busy, and we were also very busy but you did get some opportunities to interact here and there. Personally, one of my favorite moments from Hawaii was a time where I was going to the bathroom with fellow contestant Aliana Jester during the live show that night, and Lionel Richie was coming back from his bathroom break. When he saw us, he stopped and we had a small chat with him and he gave both me and Aliana a hug and a kiss – which was a dream come true! Small interactions like that were the moments we got to spend with the judges.
Q: Did this experience help you get in touch with any record labels you couldn’t get in touch with before?
A: Once you reach a certain point in the show, you do come in contact with a lot of industry people – talent agencies, record labels, managers…etc. You meet a lot of interesting people, especially a lot of people behind the scenes. However, unless you made the top five, your opportunity to work with those people is very slim which is why contestants aim for those top spots. Regardless, you still get tons of experience and exposure just for being on the show! While I did not get any offers from any record labels or talent agencies, I gained a larger platform and following to keep developing myself as an artist and intern. I’ve made some contacts with people in the industry. I like to think that there are many opportunities in my future, but for now, I need to keep discovering myself as an artist.
Q: How was the overall experience and what do you think you learned from it?
A: I feel nothing but joy and appreciation when I think about American Idol and all that it did for me, not only in my career, but as a person. I learned a lot about myself and I grew a lot internally. It was an experience for me to get out of my comfort zone, push myself, learn more about myself, bond even more with my father, travel to places I’ve always dreamed of seeing, meeting amazing people, feel like a superstar, and really dig in to who I wanna be.