Kelly Clarkson Says ‘American Idol’ Season 1 Cast Thought It Was a ‘Joke’

Kelly Clarkson just revealed that the cast of American Idol Season 1 heavily questioned the longevity of the show. When American Idol premiered in 2002, it instantly became a fan-favorite, hence why it’s lasted for two decades, but at the time, the contestants weren’t sure on how serious to take the show themselves. During an interview with Kevin Hart on his new show Hart to Heart on the Peacock network, Clarkson didn’t hold back in revealing that they “thought it was a joke” at the time.

“I mean, we didn’t think it was going to come of anything. Like, we were the first season of American Idol. So, we were there for that paycheck that [SAG-AFTRA] gives you, to pay for some bills,” she admitted. “Nobody knew that anything would actually come to fruition. That’s what everyone hopes, but that doesn’t usually happen.” The 42-year-old became the first Season winner at the age of 20 and went on to become a three-time Grammy winner who now has her own show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.

“I love what I do and I love singing and I love what you’re able to do with your spotlight, but I think because I skipped all of that so fast and I was thrown in, there was no time for people to really drill me on, ‘You have to do this. You have to do this,'” she added. To tail off that, she detailed that she wasn’t completely prepared for the experience she was thrown into. “Nobody knew what to do. The show was ever-changing every day. They dropped us off in a mall and said find some clothes to wear on national television. I am maybe the closest to white trash you can get. What do I buy? White pants I guess? I definitely look like a cocktail waitress.”

Clarkson added, “Now they have stylists, and hair and makeup people everywhere. They didn’t want to see the floor monitors because it wasn’t aesthetically appealing … they had them under the stage, and nine times out of 10 you couldn’t hear yourself. It was like you were basing it on what you did in rehearsal and hoping to God that you were somehow in rhythm. It was a hard season, but it prepared me.” According to PEOPLE, earlier this month, Clarkson and Hart discussed how she had to learn boundaries after being thrusted into the spotlight. That wasn’t something she was ever good at and said she’s had to learn to say “no” throughout the years.

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