Former Snellville resident Diana DeGarmo possesses a soaring, powerful voice — which is why she came in second on “American Idol” seven years ago and has built a steady career in Broadway productions from “Hair” to “Hairspray.”
But she’s facing perhaps her biggest career challenge as she plays “Angelina” on the most popular soap opera, CBS’s “The Young and the Restless,” starting Monday, October 31. Her character — a mob boss’s daughter with an over-the-top, Snooki-like attitude and look from “Jersey Shore” — shows up wanting to become a professional singer. The truth is, Angelina can’t sing a lick.
“I have to place myself in a different mindset,” DeGarmo said from Los Angeles during a rehearsal break last week. “As a singer, you automatically find the melody and follow it. I have to throw all that out the window. I ignore the music and just start making up melodies that are just barely what the song actually is. It’s like being a kid and you don’t care what people think. Of course, Angelina thinks she’s amazing!”
DeGarmo, a 2005 Shiloh High School graduate, is the second “Idol” alum to nab a regular role on a scripted show after Constantine Maroulis, who played a record producer and singer on “The Bold and the Beautiful” in 2007. She said she is committed to the role for several weeks but it could last far longer if viewers want her character around.
“I’m crossing my fingers,” she said. “Sometimes being a ‘reality’ person can be a bit of a stigma. ‘The Young and the Restless’ was willing to take a chance on me. They are so fantastic.”
The soap’s producers caught her in a production of “Hairspray” in Los Angeles earlier this year. They liked what they saw, called her and gave her the job, which was a first for the 24-year-old DeGarmo.
“I’ve had to audition for everything I’ve ever gotten,” she said. “I guess my audition was ‘Hairspray’!”
She’s had to adjust a bit to the paces of soap opera acting.
“I would equate this to guerrilla theater. It’s very fast. You do your presentation and you’re done. It keeps me on my toes. I have to give my best performance at that very moment.”
Coincidentally, “The Young and the Restless” set is on the same lot as “American Idol.”
“I have a badge now to get in,” she said. “It opens all the gates and doors. It’s exciting! I’m really hoping Angelina stays around long enough for season 11 of ‘American Idol,’ “ which starts in January.
“The Young and the Restless”
3 p.m. weekdays, CBS
P.S. to the regular “Idol” bloggers: As usual, I always seem to have better conversations with Diana by phone. Odd, eh?
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk