American Teen: Jaclyn Crum
There are two types of Idol fans. There are people who watch Idol. And then there are people who KNOW way more than any human being should be allowed to know about Idol. As many of you are aware, I fall into the latter half. I remember things about the fourth season in particular that most of my friends who watch the show are clueless about. But it brings me great joy to be in touch with a lot of these past contestants, because I find it's interesting in a sort of a "where are they now" sense, and also because a lot of them are doing things that are really interesting.
One of my season four favorites was Jaclyn Crum. She just missed making the cut for the Top 24, so she never got to be voted on by America, but she was definitely one of the stars of the show during the Hollywood rounds. The camera seemed to love her, even though (or, perhaps, because) she got emotional in front of it a lot.
But not all Idol contestants go on to pursue fortune and fame in the music industry after their run. In fact, a good portion of them settle down and settle in for a good normal life. This is where Jaclyn is two years later. She's a mother now, with one on the way, a high school graduate working on a college career, and she's living the normal life in Gahanna, OH. She sat down with me on the phone and talked to me for a while about Idol and life after.
J.D.: What was it like being a 16 year old walking into something that's as huge as American Idol?
Jaclyn: Well it was really overwhelming. Definitely nerve-racking, because, I mean, I was 16. Now I'm about to be 19, but when I was 16, I was so excited, because when I had first heard about the show, like before it came out and became all big, I was really excited. And it was something that I wanted to do ever since I heard about it, but you have to be 16, and I was only like, I think 14 at the time when it came out. Either 13 or 14. And I watched it when Kelly was on it, and I watched it when Ruben was on it, and I watched when Fantasia was on it. I had my favorites each time, and I would root for them and participate in the show. I just got so excited with them, and when I actually made it, I was like "whoa! I can't believe I made it!" So, it was a lot of fun.
J.D.: You made such a transition, it seems just from watching you, you seemed kind of shy and quiet when you were not singing, and then you turned into this powerful, confident singer. How did you do that?
Jaclyn: Well, I guess I wouldn't say that. If you knew me personally and you talked to my friends and family members, I'm definitely not a shy kind of person like that. I was just nervous. It was a new environment, and basically my main thoughts were on the show, and how well I was going to do, and each day going there and each day giving it your best. And then, y'know, figuring out whether you were going to get cut or not. You basically lived by that day by day, like "oh my God, am I gonna go home?" And once you made it to the next round, you were like "yes! Oh, but there's tomorrow. Y'know, I could be cut tomorrow." So that's what I was mainly shy and nervous about. When I'm on stage, basically I'm there thinking about nothing but singing. It's one of my favorite things to do, so I just let it all out, I guess.
J.D.: Do you think you were ready at that young of an age for the kind of pressures that instant fame can have on you?
Jaclyn: I probably wasn't 100 percent ready. I would say around maybe 80 or so. I was just so excited to be out there. I think that if it were now, it would be totally different. I'm not really sure how, but I know from watching myself on TV, I know what to do and what not to do now!
J.D.: One thing that people seem to remember about you a lot is that you cried a lot on the show. Are you an emotional person?
Jaclyn: Thanks to my mother, yes. If you couldn't tell, my mom is too.
J.D.: One of your defining moments on the fourth season of American Idol is when you were called to the hospital because of your mom, who I believe suffers from multiple sclerosis. Is that correct?
Jaclyn: Wow, you have a good memory.
J.D.: How was that, coming in the midst of all the auditions? How did that affect you?
Jaclyn: To be honest, that was the only time that we had had a problem, was that night. It was mainly me, because I was sick each time that I was in auditions. For some reason, I don't know if it was because of nerves, it's something I get all the time, is strep throat. And I get it constantly, and it's the worst thing for me. And each time that I went out there, I was sick with strep throat. The last time was completely horrible. Like the time that I got cut, I was so happy that we didn't have to sing that day, because I had to come home and get a shot and everything because I was sick. But when we were out there, that one night was the only night that she had a problem. I didn't think that it was her M.S. at first, but I mean, it was part of it...it was something that she ate and she's allergic to, and her throat started closing up. They gave me a choice to either stay there or go with my mom. I love to sing and everything like that, but my family is far more important than singing or anything for that matter. And I wasn't just gonna leave my mom. I was scared that something bad would happen to her.
J.D.: One thing I remember particularly about you was how you reacted on the set of The O.C., which had to be fun, because who wouldn't want to be on the set, right? I was talking to Lisa Tucker the other day, and she actually got a walk-on role on that. How was it to be around all that talent and all that stardom, just even for the briefest moment.
Jaclyn: Well we didn't actually get to meet anybody. Ben (McKenzie) was actually there. He plays Ryan on the show. But his hairdresser was busy with him, so we didn't get to meet him. I think we did get to meet Lindsey (Shannon Lucio), who was Ryan's girlfriend. She had like the really long hair. She was on last season, but she ended up moving away. I don't know if you remember her. That's the only person we got to meet. But I am like the biggest O.C. fan. I adore The O.C. And it was a complete surprise when they told us. We were on the bus, touring and stuff like that, they were showing us around Hollywood. And they stopped in front of the place, and they were like "yeah, so we're going on the set of The O.C." and I was like "oh...my....God" and I started like freaking out. I love that show. It's my favorite show, even though I'm not happy that they killed Marissa, but I still watch it every now and then when I get the chance.
J.D.: I wasn't real happy about that either, but at least we still have Rachel Bilson.
J.D.: What, aside from the trip to The O.C., were some of the more positive experiences you had with Idol? What do you look back on with really fond memories?
Jaclyn: Staying up late, singing, and being around a bunch of people that love to do the same thing that I did. I met a couple of really great people out there that I really really love, and I'm still friends with a couple of people. I know from being out there, I couldn't have met anybody like them. Just being out there and singing and doing what I love, it was just, I don't know, an amazing experience. I don't think I'll ever experience again something that overwhelming and exciting, especially since I was only 16.
J.D.: I think you told me once before that you had been friends with Carrie Underwood. Are you guys still in contact?
Jaclyn: Yeah, we talk every now and then, but she's a really really busy person.
J.D.: How does it feel watching her win those awards? Do you feel really proud for her?
Jaclyn: Yeah, I do. I get really excited, just because when you're friends with somebody and you see your friend doing a good accomplishment, even if it's my friends in school winning an award or getting recognized, I get excited just like it's me. I know my daughter adores her. She freakin' loves her. We basically talk through email, and I told her I'll always give her a heads up every now and then and tell her how Maria and I are doing. I congratulated her on her last award that she won, because Maria got so excited when she won and started clapping. So we talk every now and then when she has time, but she's really busy, and I'm really busy, so we talk maybe twice a month. Every now and then.
J.D.: You were a friend of Mikalah Gordon's too, weren't you?
J.D.: Did you guys get along pretty well?
Jaclyn: Yeah, we were supposed to go shopping when we were out there, but we never ended up getting to, because things got cut short. But yeah, we were close.
J.D.: Mikalah's a friend of mine, also. And she's been through a bit of a rough time lately. Do you think that when you're at the age that you and Mikalah were, more problems tend to come up, as opposed to somebody who is in their mid-20's and knows more about where they want their career to go?
Jaclyn: Yeah, I would say they have more experience and everything. And they've been there at that age, like the age that we were at the time, so they've been through it all. I mean, if I were going into something now, I would know more than what I did going into it at the age of 16. So, I mean, I guess that I would say that 16 year olds as younger people have more problems, because they don't really know what they're going into, but they're so excited about going into it that they'll do anything.
J.D.: What are some of the negative things that you remember about being there that maybe you wish you could forget?
Jaclyn: I don't really know. Probably being sick. If I could've helped being sick...I remember the last time I was there, right before I got cut, I had the worst case of strep throat. I didn't even want to be there. I wanted to go home because I was sick, and the plane ride made me even sicker because my ears were popping. And I had to go back home from not only being cut but also from being sick. It was the day before my birthday that I got cut, and I had to go home and get a shot of penicillin because I was so sick that I couldn't even talk. I think that was probably the worst thing about the whole entire episode, going out there and being sick each time that I went out there. Other than that, I had the most wonderful time ever. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
J.D.: When the Top 24 was being chosen, and you were all in the room wondering if it was going to be you or not, it all came down to a choice between you and Amanda Avila. Simon asked you if you didn't make it if you would come back the next year, and you said yes. Do you think by answering yes that that might have influenced their choice at all?
Jaclyn: No, I think, to be honest, they just sat down before we were even brought back out to Hollywood, and they watched the tape and went back over the tapes, and they picked all the people that they wanted to, and they just sat them in the order of how they were gonna call them out, one by one, how they were gonna be chosen or how they were gonna be cut. So I think that their decision was already made before we were even brought out in Hollywood.
J.D.: I know you hold no hard feelings toward Amanda. She's a great girl. Even let me sing to her once.
Jaclyn: Oh, it was never a competition between just me and her. It's a competition between everybody. To be honest, she was really really nice. She was in the elevator babying me, and she was holding me, and she kept telling me she was sorry. And she didn't have anything to be sorry for, just because they chose her over me. It's not like she and I were both sitting there and they said "you're a better singer than this person" or "you're a worse singer than this person, so I'm going to choose you." I know that they didn't choose it just on voice. They chose it on a lot more other things. She's a lot older than me, and she has way more experience than me. Like Randy said, I don't think that at the time I was exactly ready, because I was so nervous going into it, and that was the first big big thing to happen to me. I don't think it was anything between me and her, and she's a great person. I really liked her the whole time we were out there. She was always really nice to me, so I have nothing against her.
J.D.: I really enjoyed meeting her. I still would've liked to see you in front of America's vote though. I think you might've gone a little further than that. You had a lot of exposure and a lot of people rooting for you. A lot of people really enjoyed your personality. I sure did. Did any opportunities open up for you after Idol?
Jaclyn: Well, I did a cancer benefit. Everything was kinda like here and there. I didn't get a lot of things done, because you have so many months before you're out of contract. You have to stay under contract with them, and they get to choose what you do. Also, I was still finishing up school, and I had a lot to make up, because it was my junior year, and I didn't want to fall behind or anything. Right after the show, I had to come back and get some extra tutoring in to catch me up from where I had missed out. The beginning of April was when I got pregnant with Maria, and I didn't want to do anything after that. I was kinda embarrassed at first. I mean, now I wouldn't trade her for the world, but... I told my dad I wanted to limit things, so I did a couple of national anthems at football games. I did the cancer benefit. I sang at this memorial tribute thing that we have in Gahanna for the veterans. Just small stuff like here and there.
J.D.: Do you think maybe once Maria and the second child that's on the way get a little older that you might look towards that field again?
Jaclyn: Maybe. I haven't really thought much of it. I hope Maria does it! I would be so excited if Maria does it, because she is a such a good singer! I mean, I know she's only about to be one, but she sings really good, so I hope she'll follow in my footsteps and be famous for me!
J.D.: Maybe she'll have all your energy.
Jaclyn: Oh she has double my energy!
J.D.: What was it like to be finishing high school and starting a college education while getting used to being a new mom?
Jaclyn: It actually wasn't really that hard. I mean, I have a lot of people that support me, like my family and friends, so it wasn't hard. It's not really hard when you have a lot of help from the people that you love.
J.D.: You have voiced your strong opinions about your current pregnancy and how you feel about keeping your baby. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jaclyn: My thoughts on abortion. Yeah, I don't believe in it. I think that basically by somebody getting an abortion, they're putting all their faults on an innocent human being, and that's not right. I mean, I know people that have gotten it, and I'm not going just not ever speak to them again because of it, but it's not something that I even believe in. I don't think it should be an option for anybody to do, because that's basically you saying "even though I made a mistake, it's all this baby's fault." And that's not right. The baby had no control over anything whatsoever, and it's not right to kill an innocent little child because of the mistakes that you've made. God put us all here for a reason, and He didn't make a woman become pregnant with a child for her to go out and kill it. So, I'm totally totally totally against abortion. I hate abortion. I wish it was illegal.
J.D.: That's a really profound statement coming from somebody so young. I definitely respect you for your belief there. Apparently, you've had a lot of time to think about it.
J.D.: I know you're not the only girl out there who may have gone through this, becoming a single mother and having regrets about becoming a single mom. Fantasia is one, and she's still successful.
Jaclyn: Yeah, really, and I would have to say I look up to her. My mom did it with me, and I look up to her for her. But to be honest, I know that some day I'll meet somebody that will be just like my dad, who is actually my step-dad, but I think of him as my dad, because he's been there ever since I was two. So I have a dad. I didn't lose out on anything because my real father wasn't ever there. I couldn't ask for a better person to be my dad. I love him a lot, and so does my mom, and Maria adores him. So I know that one day God has a plan for me that will consist of somebody else. I have plenty of family and friends to help me out along the way.
J.D.: What would you say as someone who has been through this, and who is going through this at the moment, to girls out there who are in your situation and may need a little advice.
Jaclyn: Don't be stupid, and listen to your parents. This is exactly what I was telling Maria today. We tell you this stuff for a reason, so you better listen. Because we're not doing it to be mean, we're just doing it to keep you from being hurt. I swear I wish I would have listened. My dad told me from day one, and I never ever listened, but I wish I would have. I only can hope that Maria doesn't follow in my footsteps there and that she actually listens to me. I would just basically say to them, keep your head up and God has a plan for everybody. You may be really unhappy now, but one day God will make you really happy, and you will meet somebody who you are supposed to be with and spend the rest of your life with, and everything will all be worth it afterwards.
J.D.: If you're never ever famous ever again, and you wanted us to remember one thing about you, what would that be?
Jaclyn: Um... I don't know! Unfortunately, I didn't really get a say in that, but everybody remembers me as two things: the girl who's really emotional and always cried a lot, and the girl whose mom went to the hospital. I don't know what I would want people to remember me by, but I know that that's what people do remember me by.
J.D.: One last word of wisdom for people out there?
Jaclyn: I would just say, give it your best shot. Because you can only do so much as a human being, but if it's something that you really want to do, go for it. And don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it, because if you think that you can, then you can do it. You're the one who makes the decisions in your life. The goals you've got in life are not anybody elses. So go do it!
Sounds like words to live by. Thanks Jaclyn, and best of luck. We'll look forward to seeing Maria on American Idol Season 22!!