Tamyra Gray Sings Her Heart Out for 'Boston Public'
Fri, Feb 21, 2003 01:53 PM PDT
by Kate O'Hare
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Since losing out to Kelly Clarkson in the first season of FOX's "American Idol," 23-year-old Tamyra Gray has gone on to prove that, sometimes, winning isn't about coming first.
A favorite of the show's judges -- in particular the acerbic Simon Cowell -- Gray has now embarked on an acting career, with a four-episode stint (and perhaps more) on FOX's high-school drama "Boston Public."
Beginning Monday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. ET, she plays Aisha, a shy girl with an amazing voice, discovered by Marilyn Sudor (Sharon Leal). While Sudor urges her to take the lead in a school musical, Aisha must deal with her controlling boyfriend, who wants her to stay in the shadows.
Her audition scene, in which she sings Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" (belted out by Whitney Houston in "The Bodyguard" ), was screened for critics during the January edition of the biannual Television Critics Association press tour, and it was a showstopper.
"I sang and lip-synced," says Gray, talking after her session. "I didn't lip-sync when the camera was on me. When it was on Loretta [Divine] or Sharon, that's when I lip-synced. But for the most part, I sang the entire time. I didn't take that long. It wasn't bad. It wasn't hard."
This "what, me worry?" attitude has helped carry Gray from obscurity to the beginnings of stardom, but that doesn't mean no nerves. Recalling her first day on the set, Gray says, "I was terrified, but there were helping hands everywhere. Jonathan [Pontell, one of the show's executive producers], who directed the first episode, was saying, 'It's OK.' Once I realized that, it was OK."
"It didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen that first day. I was so nervous that day, even when I was doing my lines, but that was OK, because that was what my character called for at the time. So me personally being nervous, and then Aisha being shy, I drew off that emotion immediately."
While Aisha struggles to believe in herself, Gray is thankful for the opportunity to showcase and expand her own talent.
"The way it happens in my life," she says, "if I'm not appreciative, if I don't show any sense of gratitude for what I'm doing, then it goes away. I've worked too hard and too long for something that I love, and this is what I love, and I don't want to see it go away. So I don't have attitude or anything."
"I'll continue to walk the pavement and go on this journey wherever it takes me, because, no matter what it looks like, it didn't come overnight, and just as quickly as it came, it can go away."
One way that could happen, Gray believes, is if she tries to be anyone but who she is. "That's why I never sang a Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey song on 'American Idol,' especially when they started saying, 'Oh, you remind me of ...' or 'You're the next ...' That's not what I'm trying to be."
"There's only one Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Celine Dion. They've already given the world what they have, and they're still doing it. So for the new up-and-coming singers, the world doesn't need another one of them, it needs another you. Because only you can give the world what it is that you have."
"That's a big thing for me. I have a mind, and I have things to say that are important to me, and it's not always about who broke my heart or who cheated on me -- because I've never been cheated on. So, there are other things to talk about."