This week I had the opportunity to participate in a media call with eliminated contestant Haley Scarnato. I was able to get in a couple of questions till I was cut off by the moderator (my questions are in red). I wish her luck in the future with everything she does.
Thanks for always putting on such a good spirited show.
H. Scarnato: Thanks. I try.
Was that your strategy? Did people mistake your spirited performances for strutting around and playing up your overt sexuality? Do you think that’s what happened?
H. Scarnato: I have no idea. You never can tell. I just tried to do the best that I could do, and that was that.
Were you just going for fun, youthful, vibrant, that kind of thing?
H. Scarnato: Definitely. That was just the vibe.
I know for the past couple of weeks, you were shrugging off Simon’s comments about just that. But deep down, was it bothering you each week that you weren’t getting much feedback on your voice, and on your vocals, but just about what you had on?
H. Scarnato: I little bit. They always say this is a singing competition, etc., but it is what it is. You just have to brush it off and do the best that you can do.
Going off of that in retrospect, do you think that not responding to Simon’s comments was the right decision?
H. Scarnato: That’s who I am. I’m on national TV and I don’t want anybody to think – I still want to stay on that frame of mind of, you’ve got to respect him. He’s Simon Cowell, and you’ve got to set an example. It does hurt a little bit, but you just kind of brush it off and try to get through it.
Last night you had your farewell performance, and you totally could have just stood there on the stage and just sung it; but you actually went out into the crowd and you played to the audience. It was very enthusiastic and energetic. Did you consider just doing it straightforward? Or did you always know that you were going to go and do the whole thing?
H. Scarnato: Like I said, whether I’m wearing shorts or not, I’m not strutting around just because I’m in shorts. Do you know what I mean? That’s just who I am, no matter what I was wearing. I was wearing pants and I was still strutting around. That’s the style of the song. The song was about basically in your face, the rhythm, it’s funky, and it was Latin, so it is a sexy vibe. That’s just kind of what I was going for. But no matter what I was wearing, it was still the same vibe.
I’m just talking about last night after the elimination announcement. Often that ends up being a sentimental, sort of sad sing-off, and you made it into something much more lively than that.
H. Scarnato: Right. As a performer, when it’s time to sing, it’s time to sing. That’s my home. It’s like my second home. It’s very easy to clock in and get the job done. It was good to sing again and have fun with that song. It was easy. It’s not hard. I was still kind of tearing up, but I was just enjoying my moment.
This season, not like any other, has been sort of peppered with rumors and your backstage gossip. What’s one thing, maybe a favorite rumor of yours that you’ve heard either about yourself or one of the other idols that you’d like to debunk?
H. Scarnato: I don’t even know any of the rumors. I really don’t. We’re so cooped up; I have no idea really what’s been said, except now about the shorts, but that’s pretty much it.
Going on with the shorts, we certainly followed your fashion sense this season, and I know you are engaged. Any chance you’ve chosen a wedding dress yet?
H. Scarnato: Yes, I did. I picked it right before I came out.
Will you be singing at your own ceremony?
H. Scarnato: No, I will not.
What was it like to work with J-Lo as a mentor? What was she like in person?
H. Scarnato: It was amazing. She was great. She was very warm and comforting, and she had a lot to tell us. You could tell she really did want to help us. It was a very good experience on my part and I think everybody felt the same with it.
Did you get to spend a lot of time with her?
H. Scarnato: A little bit, it was like ten minutes, so it was good to hammer out the song and stuff.
Did you get to meet Marc Anthony at all?
H. Scarnato: Yes, we did. That was really cool, too.
What was he like?
H. Scarnato: He was great. He was really, really nice. He loves her and he adores her, so that’s really cool to see. They just look really happy.
What challenge did you not expect in this competition?
H. Scarnato: That’s hard, there’s so much. You can’t prepare yourself for something like this. You expect picking the right song is a huge deal, but just making sure it gets cleared. I didn’t know it was going to be that tough to try and get the song cleared. That was pretty tough and it affected us a lot, because then if it didn’t clear, we had to change the song, and we had to pick another song. It would just hold everything up. That was pretty much it.
Did any celebrity mentor give you good advice that we didn’t see?
H. Scarnato: No, not really. Lulu was amazing. That was all on TV. Her and Jennifer Lopez were great. I loved them. What you see is what you get. They try to put everything in as much as they can.
Being from Texas as you are, like I am too, I wanted to ask you something specific in terms of Texas. What was your musical experience and background in terms of singing? Were there any specific Texas things that inspired you or influenced you along the way?
H. Scarnato: That’s tough, not really. As an artist, you watch people and the different artists that are out there, and that inspires you enough, but I guess maybe just the country music aspect of it. It’s huge in Texas and I love country music. I was looking forward to country week.
Maybe just getting more general then, who were some of the artists that influenced and inspired you, even before Idol?
H. Scarnato: Definitely Celine Dion, Martina McBride, I love her, Faith Hill. I’m trying to think of who else.
When Simon first started commented on the way you looked, did you ever think about changing the sort of outfits you were going to wear, so that you wouldn’t play into what he was saying?
H. Scarnato: You get so much feedback from everybody, and they’re like, “Keep it,” I never really changed my look. Since Hollywood week, I showed my midriff a little bit and stuff like that. Not really, I want to stay true to who I am. It’s fun dressing up and playing the part of the theme week and the song that you’re signing. Like with Latin week, it’s more of a sexier vibe. I don’t think I wore less clothes than before, so I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think I stayed true to who I am.
You had said before that you weren’t aware of a lot of the things that have been written or said about the show and the contestants because you’re so hidden. Were you aware of all of the things they have been saying about Sanjaya?
H. Scarnato: Not really. Like I said, we’re totally in that bubble, so we try to stay away from it, just for the sake of our own minds. Not too much, the Sanjaya thing, I hear that’s an issue or something. It’s kind of funny.
It’s an issue all right. Considering what an issue it is, does it bother you that you got voted off before him?
H. Scarnato: No, oh my gosh. Sanjaya is a great personality; he has a great energy backstage, and on stage. I think he did a great job last week. He’s a great kid and I wish the best for him and all of the other contestants.
You had mentioned before that you weren’t expecting songs not to be able to get cleared. Was there any song in particular that you really were looking forward to singing that you weren’t able to get cleared?
H. Scarnato: I’m trying to go back. I can’t even go back to it to even think of which song. There was a song that was – I can’t even remember what it was called. It was so crazy. I can’t remember it. I’m sorry.
Of the celebrity mentors that you go to work with, which one was the most helpful to you?
H. Scarnato: It’s a toss-up between Lulu and Jennifer Lopez. They were both amazing. Those were my favorite.
Was there anyone that you were disappointed that you weren’t going to be able to work with in the upcoming weeks?
H. Scarnato: Yes, I really wanted to work with Martina McBride, but that’s okay.
I know that the judges seem to give a lot of conflicting advice when it comes to your performances and, of course, Simon mentioning your legs all of the time. How do you adjust and correct your performances for the next time when it comes to those times when they give that kind of conflicting advice?
H. Scarnato: If I was still going to be here next week, I was going to wear a choir robe. I was going to be fully clothed. You just take it for what it’s worth and just try to brush it off, and just know that you still have to perform. I felt good about it, so I’m okay with it.
Now that the tour is coming up, what are you most looking forward to when it comes to the shows?
H. Scarnato: Just seeing the fans and the excitement that they get, and the excitement that we get from it, so it’s just going to be crazy. I can’t imagine the feeling that we’re going to all get from it.
Haley, I wanted to back up just a week. They showed Tony Bennett giving a couple of people advice and the people ignored the advice. They went ahead and they did different fruit from Tony’s side and they did pretty well with it. You followed his advice, but I’m not sure if you wouldn’t have done well ignoring it. You had this funny, silly, vampy version that you wanted to do, “Saving My Love For You,” where it was kind of playful, and he told you to do it seriously, and you switched it to seriously. Do you think maybe your playful approach would have worked, too?
H. Scarnato: I think I still kept the playful vibe. I just didn’t do the you-and-you-and-you like he didn’t want me to do.
That’s what kind of made it humorous. Like I’ll be true to you in my fashion, kind of a humorous touch to it.
H. Scarnato: The version that I was leaning towards was the Broadway version. It’s more characters, and more cutesy kind of vibe. But he’s Tony Bennett, so you want to respect him. I took his advice, and took what I wanted, and still gave it my flavor.
One other thing, we get revisionist with Simon, and we think he always hated the look. But the truth is, he and everyone else seemed to really like the British invasion look when you had the shorts and you danced around. It seemed very fresh and youthful. I was wondering, how did that idea first come up? Did one of the fashion people suggest it to you, or did you come up with, “I want to wear the shorts and the high heels and dance around.”?
H. Scarnato: I thought about the shorts because it’s more of an upbeat kind of song, and it would be comfortable to wear. Art just finished the style and he molded it together.
You did initially get some pretty good reaction off of that one, didn’t you? I think he was saying a compliment when he said, “You scamp,” or whatever it was he said.
H. Scarnato: Yes, that was good.
A lot of people are asking about this issue with Simon and your dress. I’m just wondering if this is confusing for you. First you have this judge, who’s a powerful judge on the show. He’s telling you how great you look, and he’s praising you for your legs and stuff like that. And then this episode, he’s basically saying, “Geez, you’re showing a lot of skin in order to stay on the show.” Is this confusing? What do you make of what he’s saying when you’re taking this in?
H. Scarnato: You can’t please everybody. It’s just one of those things. I didn’t go shorter. I didn’t wear less clothes. I just did the same thing. It was going to happen eventually and I figured that. But I got a good vibe from the judges and I didn’t want to lose it because I didn’t really get any great vibes from them before. My stylist liked it and it just seemed to kind of work. Everybody was liking it, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.
What did you think of his accusation that you’re basically showing off your body to get ahead on the show? When he said that, what did you think?
H. Scarnato: It hurts, of course. It’s just legs. It is what it is, it’s legs. I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s frustrating because I’m just trying to go out there and perform and entertain and sing. It is a singing competition and I wasn’t … to me anymore, but I’m okay with it.
It’s not exactly strange for pop stars to dress like you were dressing, either. It’s the role you’re playing and then to get hammered for it.
H. Scarnato: Exactly, but that’s okay. You can’t please everybody, like I said.
I’m from Chris Richardson’s hometown, and I have quick questions for you. First of all, what were you all saying to each other when it came down to the showdown last night? Secondly, what do you think of him? Do you think now that he has as good a chance as anybody to win this?
H. Scarnato: Everybody is so supportive. It’s a great feeling to know that they’re there for us. It feels really good. We love each other and we want everybody to do well. I think Chris is going to do great in this competition. I think his chances are so great. I love him. He’s a great friend of mine. I hope the best for him and for everybody else.
Did you all talk to each other when you were standing there waiting for Ryan to give the bad news? Did you chat with each other?
H. Scarnato: I little bit. We just let each other know that we love each other and that we’re here. That’s pretty much all we can do when we’re standing out there in the middle.
Then when it was over, did he say anything to you?
H. Scarnato: Yes, of course. He was great. He’s a great guy and he has a great heart. He’s a really good friend of mine, one of my best friends here. He was great.
A question for you about when you were in the bottom three the first time, what goes through your mind when you first hear that? How does that affect your thinking going into the next week?
H. Scarnato: It’s definitely tough to be in bottom three. It’s emotionally just draining. You just have to get through it and know that you do have fans, and that they’re very loyal. I’m very thankful for that and completely blessed, so you just kind of keep going.
From this point on, besides the tour and the album, what is your obligation to Idol? Are there appearances that you’ve got to make, interviews, and things like that beyond today?
H. Scarnato: Yes, there are a few interviews and appearances. I’m excited and looking forward to it.
Just beyond that, do you have some free time before we have to prepare for the tour? Or do you have other Idol commitments you have to make?
H. Scarnato: I think I have some free time. I need to go plan my wedding, so I think I have some free time.
When you were wearing the shorts and the skirts, and they were shorter than the other contestants, as you’re in the dress room before to go on, and you’re seeing yourself wearing that, are you expecting people to focus on your voice?
H. Scarnato: I didn’t think it was going to be distracting. They’re just shorts. I had a great stylist who said that it was great, so I didn’t think it was going to be that distracting.
There was some reports earlier on in the season that people said the show stylist recycled the Katharine McPhee hair extensions. Do you know if you got old Katharine McPhee hair extensions yourself?
H. Scarnato That I got—
At one point early on in the season, they said that you were wearing hair extensions that have previously been used by Katharine McPhee on the show the season before, the hair stylist reused them.
H. Scarnato: Yes.
Did you know they were Katharine McPhee hair extensions at the time?
H. Scarnato: Yes.
Any particular thoughts on wearing old hair extensions? Did you think they’d bring you good luck? Did you think it was weird?
H. Scarnato: No, I think it’s cool. It’s fun. They can wash them. It was fun. It was kind of cool to wear Katharine McPhee hair extensions.
Usually after the show, the judges come up on stage and wish the people well. Did that happen and what did they say to you?
H. Scarnato: They were great. Did you say before the show?
After the show, after you were voted off.
H. Scarnato: Everybody is so supportive. We all love each other. It truly is a cast kind of environment. It was really nice.
What did Simon say to you?
H. Scarnato: I didn’t talk to Simon.
You didn’t talk to Simon. My other question is you said that you need to go plan your wedding. When is your wedding, and how stressful has it been being in this competition, knowing that you have that to deal with?
H. Scarnato: The wedding was November 10th, but we have to move it back because the tour is running into it, so we’ll see how it goes.
And it didn’t cause you any extra stress, knowing that you had to deal with that while you’re dealing with American Idol?
H. Scarnato: No. Because I pushed it to the side for a little bit because I planned a lot of it before, and then I have time to plan before the tour, so I just kind of pushed it aside and focused on American Idol.
I just had a quick question, even with all of the negative feedback you got from the judges, are you happy that you were part of the competition?
H. Scarnato: Oh my gosh, yes, my life changed. It truly was a blessing. I’m very thankful, so definitely.
Obviously, you had a pretty big fan base to take you this far in the competition. Did that help you get past the bad comments?
H. Scarnato: Definitely, it means a lot. The bad comments are hard, but it helps to know that there are people out there that do like me. I thank them so much for voting and supporting me. I couldn’t do it without them.
I’m from your hometown here. Are you coming home to siesta?
H. Scarnato: I’m coming home, I think, Tuesday night.
Are you going to stay awhile?
H. Scarnato: I think so until I have to come back for the finale.
You’re getting married in San Antonio, right?
H. Scarnato: Yes.
Do you have a specific place?
H. Scarnato: We’re still trying to find everything, but I’m narrowing it down. I still have to go back and plan all of that.
After all of this excitement, is it going to be tough maybe coming back to San Antonio? Or do you not have any plans for your future here? Or would you like to just strike it out in Hollywood or New York on Broadway? You seem to have a Broadway vibe about you.
H. Scarnato: I’m open for anything that comes my way. This is such a great experience and great exposure, so I’m up for anything, definitely.
What’s going to be your first thing you do when you get back to San Antonio?
H. Scarnato: What’s going to be the first thing?
Yes. Did you miss anything? Did you miss the food?
H. Scarnato: I’m definitely going to eat Mexican food.
Have you gotten any other opportunities yet, any other opportunities offered right off the bat?
H. Scarnato: I haven’t even slept last night. I have no idea what’s going on, so it’s just been crazy. Until I venture off, I don’t know anything yet. Hopefully, something will come in, but we’ll see.
I wanted to ask you about this latest part of the competition, the Latin music competition. There’s been a lot of criticism that it wasn’t a good fit for a lot of the performers. Could you address that? Was there a lot of tension among the contestants about whether or not they could really pull it off in the Latin music department?
H. Scarnato: We were all really excited about the Latin theme. The band sounded awesome. I thought everybody did a great job picking the right songs for each voice and just performing it well. I felt really good; I guess it just wasn’t working for the judges, but everybody did a great job and that’s all that really matters.
Now do you have any particular long term plans after the tour? Do you have things set up to where you want to go after the wedding and after the tour?
H. Scarnato: I would love to get a record deal. That’s exactly what we all want, so that would be a dream come true. Like I said before, I’m up for anything. I’ll try anything. We’ll see.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media call.