(What you're hearing is Lisa's latest song, followed by my interview with her in audio format. Sorry if it made you jump! --J.D.)
When I first started doing Idol Interviews, there were a couple of Idols in particular that I really wanted to get hold of and sit down and talk to. Most of those you've read in past interviews. (And if you haven't, scroll down the sidebar to the right and go read them after you're done with this one.) But I've been wanting for months to have a chat with Lisa Tucker.
Lisa charged onto the Idol scene with an audition that I still, to this day, hold as my second favorite audition of all time. (Carrie Underwood's comes in first.) I got chill bumps as Lisa sang "I will be free." Throughout the competition, Lisa was charming, and just plain hard to dislike. While you might be aggravated at Paris' baby-talk or Kellie's malapropisms, there was absolutely nothing offensive about Lisa. In fact, there were a great deal of endearing qualities.
Lisa grabbed on and took the competition with both hands, and while she didn't emerge from the Top 12 victorious, she was already using her newfound fame to build on her career, landing a guest spot on The O.C.
and making appearances elsewhere, to say nothing of the tour.
So let's get right down to it. Here's my conversation with Lisa. You can read it here, or listen along.J.D.
: What kind of things had you done, prior to your stint on American Idol?Lisa
: Well, before I was on Idol
, I did "The Lion King," and I played young Nala. I had been on Star Search
and Ed McMahon's Next Big Star
, but American Idol
was definitely the highlight so far.J.D.
: You were described, going into the contest as the best sixteen year old they'd ever heard. How much pressure was that?Lisa
: Well, hearing that, it definitely was pressure, y'know. Going into it, I was terrified of auditioning in front of Simon, and Randy, and Paula. And I was just worried about what they were gonna say to me. And after I heard that and walked out, I mean, I was wondering, ok it was great that I got great feedback, but at the same time now I'm nervous because I have all this added pressure on me for Hollywood week.J.D.
: Wow, that's gotta be crazy.Lisa
: Yeah, it really was.J.D.
: And as a kid, I mean, that's a lot of pressure. You're young, and you're new in the business.Lisa
: Definitely! I mean, I was only in my senior year of high school. Kids have to deal with enough pressure, and y'know, stuff to deal with and that was definitely a big add-on for us.J.D.
: As a minor, you were required by law to go to school while working on American Idol
. Is that correct?Lisa
: That's right. We had... Paris and I had to wake up three hours earlier than everybody else and do our schooling before pretty much we'd run out and perform in front of millions of people.J.D.
: Wow, that had to be a lot of pressure, both emotionally and academically, too.Lisa
: It was.J.D.
: Can you tell me one of the craziest things you remember about your stint on Idol?Lisa
: (pauses) Ummm...let's see... We would get so excited after a show was over, y'know, because I mean, we were all so close! And we knew that the next day for a results show, somebody would be leaving. We were all so relieved after that day of performing, just because we were so nervous, so a lot of times we'd go out afterwards and go to dinner all together and just have fun.J.D.
: Anything really memorable stick out in your mind?Lisa
: Let's see, let's see... Um... nothing really that sticks out. It's been a while actually. We finished the tour about a month and a half ago, so the show actually kinda sorta started to become sort of a bore.J.D.
: Well, you know, this has always been sort of a hard question for various different Idols to answer. Don't worry, you're not the only way that couldn't think of an answer to it.Lisa:
What would we be surprised, as viewers, to know about what goes on behind the scenes that maybe we don't see?Lisa:
That we're all actually pretty close. You know, of course it's a competition and everything, and we all knew that, but we all really got along this season. And we were just... I mean, me and Paris, at first, during Hollywood week, we weren't that great of friends. We didn't like each other that much, and we didn't really talk to each other, but as the show went on, we moved in together in the apartments, and we became like the best of friends.J.D.:
What about you and Pickler? How were you guys?Lisa
: Oh my gosh, I love Kellie! And I still talk to Kellie. She's gonna be coming out here pretty soon, and we're gonna go out. I just, I mean I really miss Kellie.J.D.
: You know we've really enjoyed her work around here, especially with her new album, it's just great.Lisa
: It's great. I bought it the day it came out, and I called her up and said "Kellie, it's great." We were on tour, and she would let us hear some songs, and stuff, and to hear it all on the album and go buy it in the store is just fantastic.J.D.
: I absolutely love it. It's a great album. Out of all the years that American Idol has been on TV, we've only seen one teenaged contestant place in the top two, and that's, of course, Diana DeGarmo. Why do you think that it's more difficult for a younger contestant like yourself to succeed on Idol.Lisa
: Y'know, you have to be really determined and really focused. Obviously, we have a lot to deal with, not only with the show, but we have to do schooling on top of that. A lot of times it's tough for young people to take the criticism. And some are not in a position to really go for it like others are. But, um, I don't really think it has that much to do with it, except for the fact that some adults are just more, y'know, connected with their talent so far, y'know, and more advanced, and have practiced more.J.D.
: How has life changed for you since the show?
Lisa: Wow, it's been crazy. I've been so busy. Y'know, I thought that after the show, ok I'm gonna get time to relax, and then maybe I'll go on the tour for three months, then I come back to relax. It hasn't been like that at all. I'm doing a sitcom on Nickelodeon right now, called Zoey 101
, so I've been taping for that, and um, I've just featured on an album, Dionne Warwick's new album, My Friends and Me
. And I did a duet with her on the album. I have definitely been writing a lot. So, just keeping busy.J.D.
: Have you had a lot of experience interacting with your fans? How have the fans been for you?Lisa
: Oh, great! Fantastic! And you know, just being back home and being among my local fans has been wonderful. Y'know, we got to go all over the country this summer and see all the amazing people that supported us, and they are truly dedicated fans. And being home, and going out to the mall and seeing local fans is just fantastic. I went to Disneyland, and y'know, those people are so great.J.D.
: You mentioned Dionne Warwick and Zoey 101
. What other opportunities have opened up to you as a result of your being in this competition.Lisa
: I'm definitely writing a lot of music and hoping that it's gonna be on my album.J.D.
: I've gotta know about The O.C.
What was it like being on the set?Lisa
: (laughs) The O.C.
was so much fun! And just being from Orange County made it that much better. Cause I watch the show, and it was just so weird that I was gonna be on it. And the cast was fantastic, Rachel Bilson was just so sweet.J.D.
: Do you think you'd like to pursue acting as a career, and if so, what kind of parts would you go for?Lisa:
Oh definitely! I love acting! Ever since I was in "The Lion King" when I was 12, I've always loved it. It would be difficult for me to choose between singing and acting. I would definitely like, I guess you would call it dramedies, I think they call them... a little funny and a little dramatic at the same time. Anything that really would come my way and that I could see myself connecting to.J.D.:
Where can your fans catch you next?Lisa:
Well the first episode of Zoey
is on Christmas Eve. I mean, not Christmas Eve! New Year's Eve! So, that's the first episode.J.D.:
Have you got any concerts or singing coming up?Lisa:
Around the Christmas season, definitely. I haven't gotten my schedule yet, but definitely gonna be performing.J.D.:
You have to let us know so we can let everybody know.Lisa:
fans are really really rather rabid. I know that a lot of Anthony Fedorov's fans will fly across the country and see him. Some of Will Makar's fans have been doing the same thing. Definitely some Lisa Tucker fans are gonna be out there to see you!Lisa
: So how have you grown from this experience, personally?Lisa
: Y'know, I've really learned that I just have to stay me and be me. Because in this business, even in the competition, people are pulling you every which way to be this way or that way, and you really just have to do what you're comfortable with. At the end of the day, it's what makes you feel good and what makes you happy, so I definitely learned that.J.D.
: There's a lot of pressure of instant fame on somebody maybe as young and impressionable as you or Paris?Lisa
: Well you've seen sort of how dog-eat-dog and cut-throat being in the entertainment industry can be through the voices of Simon Cowell...Lisa
: (laughs) oh of course...J.D.
: ... and various others. And y'know, some of the bloggers are not kind, y'know, some of the message board people... What makes you want to still pursue this, even though there's a lot of negativity out there?Lisa
: Y'know, for as long as I remember, I've always wanted to do this. I've always wanted to sing. I've wanted to be in this business. You kind of have to take everything that comes with it. I learned when I was 12 and started working in theatre that not everybody is as nice as they seem. You just have to stay focused and try not to be too influenced by the things around you. And I've learned that, and I've kept that I mind, so nothing is really gonna stop me.J.D.
: Tell me a little bit about Simon. I'm curious what your relationship with him was like off-screen.Lisa
: Well, we really don't get to see too much of the judges, besides y'know, the show and on camera. But I remember the night I got voted off, he said "you will definitely have a career in this business, so don't even worry about it." And y'know, when I'd see them at functions and Idol parties, he's really...he's really a nice guy.J.D.
: Let's switch gears here. Where do you find your musical inspiration?Lisa
: Wow. Um... I find it from a lot of things, y'know. If I'm writing a song, it kind of comes to me, and it's just really... all my songs are really genuine. And when I sing, I put myself in that position, and I read what the words are saying, and I definitely connect with them.J.D.
: Do you look up to anyone in particular musically?Lisa
: Well, I've always loved Whitney Houston's voice, y'know. Since I was a kid, I've been singing "I Have Nothing" and "I Will Always Love You." Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. Y'know, all the greats.J.D.
: When you're up on stage or in the recording booth with somebody like Dionne Warwick, what does it feel like to be next to a musical legend like that?Lisa
: It was soooo crazy. I mean, we recorded in the same studio that Stevie Wonder recorded in. And I was just like "this is so amazing." It was such a privilege and an honor to be on this album with her and to have an opportunity like this.J.D.
: Do you have any recordings of your own that maybe we as fans can purchase?Lisa
: Um... well, after the album. I'm working on mine right now, so, definitely soon!J.D.
: Any website that you might want to point your fans toward?Lisa
: Well lisa-tucker.com
is definitely a great one, and it has pretty much all the music that I performed on Idol and some songs that I wrote as well.J.D.
: Let's fast forward ten years in the life of Lisa Tucker. Where do you envision yourself?Lisa
: I definitely see myself singing. Y'know, I've always said since I was little that I wanna win a Grammy award. That has always been my dream, and hopefully I'll achieve that.J.D.
: Well, I know it's kind of hard to envision that far in the future when your life has changed so much in the past year!Lisa
: Well, if you could sum up in just a little bit, what is the one lasting impact that you hope you have on the world around you?Lisa
: I've always said that I wanna be considered one of the greats. And I remember during Hollywood week of Idol, they were asking us "what do you want out of this?" I remember saying "I just want to be up there with the Mariahs and the Whitneys and the Celine Dions." I've always wanted to be considered a great singer and just really touch people with my music.J.D.
: Well, I personally think you're gonna do it, because I voted for you every single time.Lisa
: You absolutely blew me away with your audition, and I really thought it was gonna happen for you on Idol, to be honest with you.Lisa
: Thank you.J.D.
: I guess we'll never know what you're like as the American Idol, but I think you're gonna go farther than that.Lisa
: Thank you so much.J.D.
: Before I let you go, what would you like to say, just as a personal message to all your fans out there.Lisa
: I just have to say thank you for all the support. And y'know, some people lose sight of the fans after this is all over, but really, none of us would be here without you guys. And I just wanna say thank you so much for all the support. And y'know, I owe everything that I achieve to you.
Thanks, Lisa, and we can't wait to see what's next!