Yesterday I participated in a media interview with the newest eliminated contestant, Stephanie Edwards. To be completely honest I didnít really know who she was or remember a whole lot about her. Once her interview started you could tell how upset she was with being eliminated so early. I canít really blame her for those feelings. She is still really young and has lots of time to further her career and I wish her the best of luck. (My questions are in red)
Obviously a lot of us were stunned to see the pairing of you and Chris in the bottom two. On a scale from one to ten, how shocked were you?
S. Edwards: I was probably about a five, just because of my performance from last night Ė I mean the night before Ė the results, I think that I just had a feeling that I was going to be in the bottom, just because of what the judges said about my performance. And I was right.
If you had it to do all over again, would you have done anything differently this week? Was there a plan B, a song that you almost sang that might have given what Paula and Simon were looking for, but you chose the other one instead?
S. Edwards: I would have definitely chose an upbeat, like faster song, just because the judges said they like me singing upbeat songs better, so I would have done that differently, definitely.
But was there one that like you almost sang, but you chose the other one instead? Did it come down to that for a lot of you kids, coming down to trying to choose between two songs?
S. Edwards: No, that was the only one I wanted. I just listened to it and fell in love with it and that was it.
But I know the judges said that they thought you lost a little steam. Did you agree with them or what was the case?
S. Edwards: I just felt that I kind of lost myself in the mix of them comparing me to other contestants. I was trying to please the judges, and I should have just pleased myself and pleased America obviously, because theyíre the ones that are voting. It was up to them in the end. I just lost myself, I think. Thatís the only thing I can say really.
Well, youíre young, so you have your whole life ahead of you. I wouldnít worry about that too much.
S. Edwards: Right.
And who are you going to miss the most from the other contestants?
S. Edwards: No one in particular, Iím just going to miss everybody. I wasnít really close to like one person in particular; I was just close to everyone. Iím going to just miss everybody. I know the tour is going to be great and, hopefully, I can go to see one of the shows or something.
A couple of seasons ago when Fantasia won, there was they called them the three divas. A lot of the theory was like when Jennifer Hudson voted off, was that the three girls were really competing for the same audience. Did you ever feel like you were having the same trouble with having Lakisha and Melinda and Jordin all on there as well?
S. Edwards: Yes. I donít know, not so much of Jordin I think, but the judges did definitely compare me to Lakisha and Melinda. I think thatís where I kind of started trying to sing ballads and show off more vocals. I should have just stuck to what I do best, which is put on a show and just perform more and not so much of all the belting and everything. So I think I just kind of lost myself in that whole mix of being compared to them. I just never quite found it in time before America voted me off.
Do you think it was fair for them to constantly compare the three of you?
S. Edwards: I donít, but at the same time, they are going to say what they feel, so whether I thought it was fair or not, they can do that basically. They are able to compare whoever they want to compare; theyíre the judges.
Some of the other contestants have also said that they are just really close to everyone. Why do you think that this group, even more than previous Idol groups, feels like they are so close to each other?
S. Edwards: I donít know; Iím thinking maybe itís just everyoneís character is just so pure and like loving. Itís just really there was no drama, like really none, honestly. Thereís just a lot of love within the atmosphere, and I think itís just because everybody was just there to sing and perform and that was it.
What are your thoughts about Simon asking you how you felt you did?
S. Edwards: He does that, so it wasnít really anything to think about, I guess. He just wanted to see what I was going to say, so he could basically tell me what he thought. But I told him the truth; I told him I thought I did well. He obviously didnít think I did, so he said he didnít think so.
And what was the most encouraging comment or advice you perceived during this process?
S. Edwards: I think it was Randy that just kind of told me to find Stephanie. When I sang Beyonce, he thought I sounded like Beyonce, but I get that a lot. But the best advice I think was when he told me to just make sure I find Stephanie amongst everything.
I know the Idol Live Tour only takes the top ten for some reason. Did you have any greater pressure this week because you guys all knew that if you got through this week, you would be able to go on tour? Was something that even came up?
S. Edwards: Yes, it was definitely added pressure. You really wanted to make top ten, so you could go on tour, so it was definitely added pressure. People were more focused I think this week, too.
Öthan the week before because of that? I got a sense that overall the performances seemed, everybody was much more consistent this time around.
S. Edwards: Yes, it was definitely more this week than any other week, just because it was determining top ten.
Before you say that, how do you feel about not making the top ten then, just for that missing the tour? Is that just a major bummer or are you just going to move on?
S. Edwards: Yes, itís a bummer. I kind of try to look at the bright side of things and think maybe one day Iíll go on tour. Even if itís not with American Idol, maybe one day Iíll be able to go on tour, if I get to just put out my own record, so, you know.
I feel like looking over the top 12 contestants, you may have had less screen time in terms of interviews and personality packages than some of the other contestants. Do you feel like that might have been the case?
S. Edwards: I donít think that was the case of me getting voted off, but I think it may have had something to do with just in general, like people not getting the chance to really get to know me, I guess. Because they kind of kept me, even from when we were in Hollywood week, they didnít really show much of me throughout until like the top 24. And then I think people got a chance to see my personality more then.
What kind of things would you have liked for people to have gotten to know about you that you donít feel like people got to know?
S. Edwards: That Iím not as mature as they think I am. I donít know; I guess I just seemed really mature and Iím not really that mature. Iím actually kind of immature. So that kind of sucked that I think people may have thought I acted way older than 19. But Iím just conserved I guess, or conservative, but Iím not really mature. Like I donít think people got to see like the goofy, fun side of me as much.
And why do you think that was the side that they sort of chose to bring out, the mature side, rather than the goofy fun?
S. Edwards: Right, exactly, because Iíve had some goofy moments, but America didnít see it.
But why do you think that that was the choice that they made to sort of point out how mature you are rather, than to point out that youíre not necessarily all the time?
S. Edwards: Well, I guess just because it was just better. I donít know. I kind of got compared to how like Fantasia, how they said that she was only 19, but she was also very mature. So I guess itís a good thing to be mature if theyíd rather show that side than the immature side.
How was it the past two weeks, working with the musical guests that they had on the show? And were they able to give you any really good advice that youíre going to be able to take and use in the future?
S. Edwards Yes, it was great working with the musical guests. I loved working with Diana Ross and I loved working with Lou Lou. They both were very fun and very personable. They just made it easy for us to sing for them, we didnít feel intimidated. They gave us great advice.
Diana Ross told me to be more sexy on my song, because she sang it and she told me that she was sexy when she sang it. And Lou Lou told me Ė well, she didnít have anything to say Ė she thought the song I did this week was great. She thought there was nothing she could change about it. So itís kind of weird thatís the week I go home, but.
Do you think your constant comparisons to Beyonce and Fantasia worked against you at all, especially since this competition is all about trying to forge your own identity?
S. Edwards Right. Thatís what I was scared of, actually, going into the competition, the fact that I sounded like Beyonce and that people may compare me to Fantasia. But I donít think that it worked against me. I think people are big fans of them. So if somebody is similar to them that they are okay with it, they like them, they like that person because they remind them of their favorite artist. So I donít think it worked against me.
The last two weeks were the first times that the person who was out didnít get to sing at the end of the show. Last week they handed Brandon the microphone, but ran out of time. This time they never even got to handing you the microphone. Did you expect that you were going to get to sing at the end?
S. Edwards: I did expect that, but I did sing. It just wasnít on camera.
Oh, you got to. Okay. So itís kind of like sometimes a triumphant moment, kind of one final thing to show how good you are to get to do that. Were you kind of disappointed that the viewers never got to see you sing the song?
S. Edwards: I wasnít because it didnít work out, actually, when I sang it off-camera. I started crying towards the end of the song, so that would have been horrible for America to see that. So Iím kind of happy it was not on camera.
People were talking a lot about Lakisha and Melinda, how they compared you. Tell us the first time you heard those two, what was your thought and was it kind of jolting in a way to realize what tough competition you were in?
S. Edwards: When I first heard them, I thought they were great, great singers, great vocalists. I just didnít think that I would be compared to them because I thought we were all so different and we had such different styles. I just thought that we were totally different and I never would have guessed that I would have gotten compared to them.
My question for you is just compared to the others who had wonderful performances, the whole entire cast of American Idol had just wonderful performances and solid performances this week, compared to the others did you feel that your performance was better than anyone elseís and that you kind of deserved to be in the bottom? Or did you feel that somebody elseís compared to yours was a little bit less that they should have been in the bottom?
S. Edwards: Well, of course, I donít want to be in the bottom. I donít want to comment on whose I thought was worse or better than mine. I didnít want to be in the bottom, of course, but I felt that everyone actually did do very good this week. And I thought I did just as well as anyone else did. Itís just that the judges didnít like it.
So speaking back about the solid performances of the week, what do you think it was about your performance that really didnít connect with the fans and the voters? Was it just because of what the judges said, or do you feel that it was something that you were doing on stage with the performance? Or maybe it was the song?
S. Edwards: It was the song I think. They would have related better if I did a faster, upbeat song, I think, which the judges even said they like to see me do and I think that my fans probably like to see me do. So they didnít like it and they didnít vote.
Who for you through the course of the competition was maybe the most helpful in their critiques and their commentary?
S. Edwards: Simon.
Why was that?
S. Edwards: It would be Simon. Heís just very honest. You need someone to be honest with you and to me he was the most honest. I think. The other judges were honest, but heís just always honest and heís blunt, he gets right to the point. Even though sometimes people think itís taken as rude, I respect his honesty.
Yes, I sort of agree with you and itís a shame that sometimes people start booing before he can actually get his words out.
S. Edwards: Right.
Tell me about the pressure of maybe some of the other aspects besides being on the biggest show of the world. Dealing with being away from family, being away from the place, how did you sort of deal with those aspects?
S. Edwards: It was okay. It was my first time being away from home, so definitely a great experience to live on my own with other American Idol contestants and to be on American Idol. Very cool. Great experience. Iím happy that I got a chance to experience it. But no, it wasnít too bad being away from home, actually.
I just wanted to know, you were saying before there is kind of no drama between the contestants. Yet outside there has been a lot of drama with the whole Sanjaya, Vote for the Worst, Howard Stern, all of this. Did you guys get involved with any of that? Did you hear about it? How did that kind of impact or not impact whatís going on?
S. Edwards: Iíve heard about some of the stuff about him, but none of the contestants commented on anything and we really never talked about what was going on outside of the show and what we were doing. I didnít even know what Vote for the Worst was, so I had no idea that he was even on there or anything.
But afterwards, then when you kind of became aware of it, do you think that kind of taints the competition at all? Because I think a lot of people are saying, ďWait a minute. Youíve got all these people that are now not voting for the best singers. They are kind of trying to tweak the results.Ē What are your feelings on that?
S. Edwards: I think that everyone that is in the top ten deserves to be there. And as far as the top 12, itís the same thing. We were all good singers. So to me there is not a worst. There is not someone where they can tweak the results because we are all good. America is going to vote for their favorite and whoever they think they like the most. At this point in the competition, everyone is good. Now itís about people voting for their favorites and who they like the most.
So I donít think itís anyone with the Vote for the Worst. I donít agree with that. I donít think that thereís anyone that is the worst and that theyíre going to be able to change the results from the American Idol not being a great singer, because everyone that is left is a great singer.
So you were mentioning earlier that it was your first time away from home and kind of living on your own. So I was wondering how was Hollywood different than like your small town, kind of Savannah, Georgia lifestyle? Like was there anything you were really surprised by when you got to Hollywood?
S. Edwards: Just the whole, that it was fast-paced compared to Savannah. Itís a lot larger than Savannah. Thereís a lot of celebrities here than in Savannah. You know, the stuff you run into Ė it just seems so, itís like a big city and Iím from a small town.
S. Edwards: Itís totally different.
So did you get to go exploring or anything around Hollywood and check out the like things youíve maybe been wanting to see?
S. Edwards: No, not really.
S. Edwards: It would have been nice, but I honestly didnít have any time. So hopefully now, I can maybe do that.
Yes, definitely. And will you go back to Savannah, Georgia just a little more divaish, a little bit Hollywood?
S. Edwards: Probably. Probably.
I want to ask you not about who you think maybe shouldnít be there, but who are your favorites? Thereís a lot of big voices and I know you said that everybody is a good singer. Is there anybody that really has impressed you that has been in the top ten now?
S. Edwards: No, not in particular. Like I said, I think everybody is great. I donít have a favorite. No, I donít have a favorite. Everyone is great and like I said, at this point, I think America knows that. If theyíre in the top ten that theyíre all good. You know, theyíre going to have to pick their favorite.
Itís kind of like you canít even try to pinpoint who you think will win or who you think will go home next because I was in the bottom two this week with Chris Richardson, who I would have never thought would be in the bottom two. Even though I kind of expected it for myself, I would never have expected him to be in the bottom two. So I donít really have a favorite. I canít really determine who will win. Itís just so unpredictable.
With this group, you mentioned earlier that there doesnít really Ė I noticed whenever Iíve spoken with you all that you all have drive and determination, but I feel like when you were together that competitive nature went by the wayside. Was that just my imagination or?
S. Edwards: You said it went, like it went away?
S. Edwards: No, it wasnít competitive at all. Not at all. We were helping each other. when I sang the Diana Ross song, Brandon gave me that song. He told me it would be a great song for me and I thought it was. So it wasnít competitive at all; it was more like we were all competing against ourselves by trying to get better each week amongst ourselves, so weíre trying to help each other be better each week as well.
I just wondered if you could give us a bit of detail about the moment you realized that Sanjaya, Haley, and Gina werenít going to be the bottom, because that obviously meant that you were? Can you just tell us how that felt at that moment?
S. Edwards: I kind of figured that was going to be the case. Like I said, I sort of figured that I would be in the bottom this week and I was right. I just didnít know who I would be in the bottom with. And when I saw Chris and Melinda and then they just said me and Chris, I was just like thatís a crazy bottom two. But Iím okay now.
What about that little girl that was crying the whole time? Did you notice her before she came up on stage?
S. Edwards: Right, yes.
And what did you think?
S. Edwards: I thought it was so sweet. She was just so happy to see and itís just cool to see fans like that, that are so excited to see you. We donít even look at ourselves as like celebrities or stars or anything and itís obvious that she did, she saw us as stars. It was just so cool. I loved it.
Did you talk to her afterwards?
S. Edwards: Yes, we all did. We gave her a hug and everything, too.
What no one has asked you about that I am really interested in is the track youíll record for the compilation CD. Top 12 gets to record a track on the disc.
S. Edwards: Yes.
Can you tell us about that, please?
S. Edwards: Honestly, I donít know what track Iím going to record yet, but Iím looking forward to that. I love going into the studio and singing. To me thatís my favorite is singing in the studio because itís like you can really be in that moment and really put a lot of passion in. You know, itís just you and the mike, itís very intimate. I think itís better than live on stage. I donít know what Iím going to sing on it, but I canít wait to still be a part of that.
If you could pick something based on everything that you have sung on the show and even letís throw in the stuff from the Hollywood round or your audition, say they say, ďOkay, you pick the track,Ē what would you choose?
S. Edwards : I would choose I think Diana Ross when I did ďLove Hangover,Ē that was my favorite.
The other thing Iíd like to ask is those of us who watch at home and have watched for a long time notice contradictory advice from the judges. Sometimes they say, ďJust sing the melody.Ē Sometimes they say, ďMake the song your own.Ē To me that sounds like it would be confusing.
S. Edwards: It is.
What do you do when they give you contradictory advice? How do you handle that or how do you deal with it?
S. Edwards: What I should have done, which I didnít do is basically disregard it when it canceled each other out and just do whatever I am the most comfortable doing and that Iím going to do my best. I didnít do that. Like I said, I was trying to please the judges and thatís where I got lost in the mix of everything.
Did you go to maybe Deborah Byrd or maybe some of the other contestants and ask them what they thought about, ďShould I do this or that?Ē
S. Edwards: Yes, of course, we did. Oh, yeah. They worked with us. It was still you thought you did something and you changed it and the judges were going to like it and it kind of backfired.
Too bad everybody doesnít get a little scorecard, right, where Simon, Paula, and Randy remember what theyíve said to you in the past. Weíve been tellingÖ.
S. Edwards: Exactly.
Listen, youíve been compared with Melinda and Lakisha and Simon at one point said that they were in a class of their own. This week I think Lakisha may have disappointed some of her fans. Do you know what happened there and what her reaction was behind the scenes?
S. Edwards: Me and her both got kind of like bad responses from the judges the other night and we both were just telling each other, ďSmile. Keep your head up and donít worry about it.Ē I told her that I thought I would probably be going home the next day and I told her that she had nothing to worry about basically. So before I left, she came and she gave me a hug and she just told me that she loved me and that God bless and that Iím going to do big things. It was really emotional.
She tried not to cry and she cried anyways, but I donít really know what happened. I think everybody has a bad week. Like I said, me and her both were just kind of like bummed out after the show, but youíve got to just keep on trucking. Sheís not going home, so I told her to bring it next week, you know.
What was her reaction, though?
S. Edwards: To the judges?
S. Edwards : We didnít really talk about that. We just were both a little bummed. Basically I guess you could say she was a little bummed like I was. That was it. We just kind of like, ďDang, we tried and they didnít like it,Ē so.
Was she worried about being voted off?
S. Edwards: No, she wasnít.
Moderator: Stephanie, do you have any closing remarks?
S. Edwards: No, I just want to say thank you to everyone. Thanks for all the love and support.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media interview.