AMERICAN CONFIDENCE: WILL MAKAR
Fresh young faces seemed to rule the crowd among this year's American Idol hopefuls. Granted, a seasoned vet you might have heard of named Taylor Hicks walked off with the title, but when the Top 24 were named, more than a few of them had to go to school backstage as well as prepare for a competition that would intimidate the most mature of us.
One face in particular turned the heads of America's young ladies. Will Makar, who came to us by way of the Austin, TX auditions, turned out to be more than just a pretty face. He also had a voice. A voice that led him through the Hollywood rounds to your votes in the Top 24.
I got the chance to interview young Will, and I found him to be quite charming. He's also quite confident, as he should be. Speak of his early dismissal from the Top 24, and he'll quickly remind you that he finished eighth of all males in the competition, which is a rather tremendous accomplishment when you think about it. He's easy-going, a little baffled by his newfound celebrity, and ready to move on to the next level after he finishes his education.
He's also great with his fans. All it took was me mentioning Hannah's crush on him, and he sent her a personal email. (There were squeals. She's going to kill me for posting this.) He's a class act all the way.
So, without further adieu, here's our conversation:
J.D.: Give us a little background on yourself prior to Idol. Did you have any experience?
Will: Before Idol, I was a student at The Woodlands College Park High School. I was born in Houston and grew up in The Woodlands, TX. I played Little League baseball but liked singing with the Houston Children's Chorus better. I got a classical music background at a very young age with Houston Children's Chorus. I traveled to Japan, Scotland, England, Mexico with the choir. I got to sing at some
great affairs, like with Celine Dion for her last concert in Houston. There were 14 of us from the choir that got to sing with her. I didn't even know who she was, I was so young. After I graduated from HCC, I started working with a voice coach and doing some musical theatre. I was also in my school choir.
J.D.: What motivated you to try out for the competition?
Will: My sister lives and works in Austin, TX. She's a radio DJ. She
wanted me to come up to Austin and try out. When I went, all I really wanted was to get to Randy, Paula, and Simon. I was just curious what they would say about my singing. I thought I could learn something from their comments. If they didn't put me through to Hollywood, I would take what they said and build on it. That was how I approached every audition for them throughout the show. I learned so much.
J.D.: Who are your influences, musically?
Will: My family, especially my sisters and brother, who told me I was fabulous when I sang "The Bear Necessities" when I was two years old. Beauty and the Beast was the first musical I saw. I always loved musicals. My choir director, Steve Roddy, from The Houston Children's Chorus is also a huge influence on me. My voice coach, Tom McKinney, also. My music teachers in school. The Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, N'Sync. Later on, I was influenced by Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble and Stevie Wonder. There are still many more.
J.D.: What would you consider the most difficult part of the whole process?
Will: Thursday night result shows were very stressful.
J.D.: Can you tell us about the friendships you made while on the show?
Will: There were so many! David Radford, Kevin Covais and I were great friends, even from Hollywood. We were part of "The Il Dweebos." That was our group. We were good working together in a very short amount of time. Another member was Josh. He was a good friend too. He didn't make it to top 45. Kevin, David, and I are still good friends and I hope to work together more in the future. All the top 24 were close. Paris, Gedeon, Ayla, Lisa and I were good friends too. We were all in school together. I was close to our producer, Norm, Mike Orland, and Dorian (they were the music directors.) I also liked the body guards. I really do miss the people behind the scenes. I still talk to them.
J.D.: Was there anyone in particular that you had difficulty with?
Will: Brenna was a trip, but she made me laugh. I can't really say I had
difficulty with her. She just chimed in quickly to any discussion. Personally, I really liked her in many ways. I have emails from her.
J.D.: What is the weirdest, wildest, or funniest story that you can remember about your time in Hollywood?
Will: In the rooms, when we were named to the top 45. It took forever and was very wild. We were sure that our room had not made it. But we did!
J.D.: Brittenum Twins. Thoughts?
Will: They were always nice to me. But it's not a good idea to steal a car to get to Idol.
J.D.: How much do the judges interact with you once get to Hollywood? Do they speak with you or do they keep their distance?
Will: Not much interaction. We talked more once I was off the show.
J.D.: Do you feel that contestants are treated equally and fairly?
Will: As fair as possible on such a TV show. You have to keep in mind that the number one priority is the success of the show.
J.D.: Which contestants are really really hot/cute/sexy in person?
Will: Kellie Pickler!!
J.D.: What kind of things do the producers put you as a contestant through that might be tough on someone your age?
Will: It's a tough venue to be in for ANYBODY, no matter what your age.
J.D.: Some have said that young people should wait longer before trying to become a musical superstar. As a 17 year old, yourself, how do you react to that?
Will: Who knows? I might have never ever gotten any further if I had waited. The way it went down was my destiny.
J.D.: What were your thoughts when you found out you were going home the week before the announcement of the Top 12?
Will: It was sad. It was very hard. I sure wished I could have met Stevie Wonder! But once I got back to Houston, I was happy. Life is great!
J.D.: What was it like for you when you got home? Did people react positively?
Will: I got home at 6 AM on Saturday morning. All my friends were at the airport to meet me including Fox News. (cringes) I looked like a zombie. I had been up since 3 AM Friday morning before. I slept for two days straight once I got home. People at my school were great. I went right back to school just like always.
J.D.: How do you handle it when you face the inevitable critic?
Will: If I can learn from them, then critics are cool. I am learning to sort through what is helpful and what is just meant to be hurtful. I really haven't felt hurt very often at all.
J.D.: Were there any particularly hateful people that tried to rain on your parade?
Will: I can't think of one.
J.D.: Now that you've had all this public exposure from one of the most popular shows on television, how are you planning to use that to further your career?
Will: I'm staying in school, but doing things one step at a time. Each thing I do, I assess carefully to make sure I can build my career on it positively.
J.D.: Where will we be seeing Will Makar next?
Will: On small venue tours, mostly in Texas to start with. I hope to do a CD in the near future.
J.D.: What kind of opportunities have come up because of your Idol experience?
Will: Singing with the Houston Symphony and great sports experiences singing the National Anthem. I'm doing a mini tour with Ruben Studdard, Constantine, Anthony Federov and Kevin. Numerous other things are in the works.
J.D.: What direction would you like to go in artistically? Any way you'd like to branch out?
Will: I'm developing my style right now. I'm going to do some song writing. I am studying more about the business too.
J.D.: What have you taken away from this experience that will shape the rest of your life?
Will: So much. I don't know where to start. I would say confidence is the biggest thing.
J.D.: Tell the truth: did you pick Pickler?
Will: No, but she's great.
J.D.: Do you have a website that fans can visit? And do you have any CDs or anything like that which we can buy?
Will: www.willmakar.com is coming soon. You can go there now and it will lead you to the fan site www.willmakarweb.com. I have a T-shirt that my sister designed for sale. No CD yet. But soon there will be a single.
J.D.: If you could leave your fans with only one thought, what would it be?
Will: Live a dream.
Words to live by. Thanks, Will! And now it's time for you, the readers to show your love!