Olivia’s journey to becoming the next American Idol came to a close on last night’s episode. Making it all the way to the top 77 contestants in the entire country, the Detroit New Look alum gave it her all! We are so proud of her hard work and know she will continue to pursue her dreams! We had the chance to talk with Olivia in a one on one interview about how participating in New Look helped prepare her for the show. Check it out below!
Tell me a little bit about your family back home in Detroit. Do they support your singing?
“Back home in Detroit, my parents are married and absolutely support my dreams of singing. I’m the middle child of five siblings. I have two older sisters and a younger sister and younger brother. They’re all very supportive of my dreams and efforts.”
What are you up to currently as a UNL alumni?
“I am studying Psychology at Wayne County Community College.”
How did you get involved or learn about Usher’s New Look?
“When I was in school, I was a member of a Motown after school singing club at my school. In this group, we built our own record label called ‘YDE’ — Young Dynasty Entertainment. From this I learned about the inner workings of a record label. One of the organizers of the afterschool program told me about the opportunity to learn even more about the industry by joining New Look in 2009. My best friend Carmen who also loves to sing joined with me.”
What was your UNL code name?
“My code name in New Look was ‘Passion’, because when I sing I give it my all. No matter what I sing, I can make you feel it. I talked a little about this in my reflection video on American Idol after my first audition.”
What were some experiences in Usher’s New Look that prepared you for an huge experience like American Idol?
“I performed at the 2010 and 2011 World Leadership Conferences with the World Leadership Choir. I got to sing on stage with Usher and Ciarah! While I had done talent shows in high school, it was different because in that audience everyone knows who you are. They all know your name. Performing at the World Leadership Conferences was the first time I ever sang on stage in front of a bunch of strangers, which is just what American Idol is. Those experiences definitely helped me prepare for Idol.”
“Participating in New Look definitely helped prepare me for Idol. I’m new to all this, but I’m still ahead of the game because of all that I learned in camp about the industry. For example, I’m more aware of the business side of the entertainment industry. Like with contracts, I know what to look for. I’m not just going to sign anything. I’m cautious. I’m prepared to be an artist.”
“Another thing about New Look is, Usher brought around so many other celebrities during New Look programs and the World Leadership Conferences. It really prepared me to not be star struck. Usher made us realize celebrities are just people who followed their dreams. Some celebs I got to meet include Lyfe Jennings, the group Quiet Storm and at the WLC, Ciarah and Dougie Fresh.”
How did Usher inspire or support your dreams when you were in Usher’s New Look?
“It always amazed me who Usher was as a person. We could always come up to him and talk to him. That’s what impressed me the most about him. I remember one time when we were practicing with the World Leadership Choir, another girl named Jasmine Pollard was just over there like… talking to him. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is he really just going to talk to us like normal people? He’s a super star.’ But I went up and joined in the conversation. I couldn’t even tell you what we talked about, but I walked away so inspired that he would take the time to invest in us like that. He always had something positive to say and learn from.”
We’ve seen you take the lead as a leader on the show, especially in the last episode when you were practicing with your group for the group audition. How did Usher’s New Look prepare you to be a leader?
“I’ve always been a naturally aggressive leader. I’ve always wanted to take the control in group situations, but Usher’s New Look taught me how to responsibly and professionally take control. I can be really assertive, and they taught me to harmoniously tone it down. New Look taught me if you’re the best, then allow yourself to be the best— Just do it the right way. You might not be the best singer, but if you’re the best leader then you need to present yourself as such. If you feel something is wrong, speak up and allow yourself to dictate the situation. So what you saw on the last episode, I was frustrated with the girls in my group because they had spent so much time trying to choreograph our dance, and I kept telling them the same thing! ‘This isn’t America’s Best Dance Crew or Dancing with the Stars! The point is to show what our voices can do, not what our bodies can do!’ I just had to take control of that situation. However, If I had never had New Look, I probably would’ve been a lot harsher on them. Practicing with the World Leadership Choir and learning patience and professionalism when I was dealing with them definitely prepared me for American Idol.”
Who else or what else within New Look still inspires you today?
“Ms. Jackie, our New Look choir director. I think her code name was Ms. Melody. She was a big help and inspiration to me. She never let me give up and always encouraged me to try even when I didn’t feel I was good enough.”
What is your ultimate goal?
“New Look taught us to follow our passions and what makes us happiest in life no matter what. My passion for singing is what drives me. It’s everything to me. It’s what I’m meant to do. I don’t even have to be a star. I just want to sing. I’d be a background singer if it meant I could sing professionally for the rest of my life. It’s all I want.”