When the folks at The Young and the Restless needed a really lousy singer, they went out and found themselves a great one. American Idol Season 3 runner up Diana DeGarmo joins the CBS soap October 31 as Angelina, the Jersey girl daughter of mob boss Angelo Veneziano (Mike Starr). She comes to Genoa City with dreams of being a chart-topping vocalist. And what Angelina wants, Angelina gets! TV Guide Magazine spoke with DeGarmo about her trash-tastic new role.
TV Guide Magazine: Sounds like Y&R is getting some comic relief! Give us the deets on this chick.
DeGarmo: Well, she's an over-the-top, gum-smacking, tone-deaf princess whose hair is as large as her attitude. [Laughs] And I'm having a blast! Angelina believes she's Barbra Streisand mixed with Celine Dion and her father — who thinks his spoiled-brat daughter sings like a choir of angels — really puts the pressure on Devon [the young music producer played by Bryton James] to show her the ropes and make her a success. It's fantastically hilarious because it puts the poor kid in a horrible predicament!
TV Guide Magazine: Word is, she'll develop a mad crush on Kevin Fisher [Greg Rikaart].
DeGarmo: Ooh, she wants him bad! Angie has her eyes, her heart and her body set on landing Kevin — and it scares him to death! He's just so sweet and nervous and Angelina loves preying on him. She loves seeing him squirm. Greg and I can't stop laughing during our scenes together.
TV Guide Magazine: What kind of music is Angie into? Pop? Broadway?
DeGarmo: I think it'll eventually be Top 40 but at first the writers have her singing the American standards — Judy Garland, that sort of thing. We want the audience to be really familiar with the songs, so they can tell how badly Angie is butchering them.
TV Guide Magazine: You need real skill to play a bad singer, right?
DeGarmo: [Laughs] It's true! It's actually much harder than people realize. But it's really liberating to get out there and be bad. You just throw your ego to the wind and sing for Jesus.
TV Guide Magazine: Will this be one of those situations where Devon works a miracle and turns Angie into a terrific singer? Otherwise, why hire Diana DeGarmo?
DeGarmo: Possibly. We're seeing where this goes. That's the beauty of this kind of show — it's a living, breathing thing and it can change at any time, which I think is beautiful.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's say Angie does turn into a fab vocalist, won't you be giving false hope to rotten singers everywhere?
DeGarmo: You know what? People who want to be singers can be nurtured and taught and they can make great strides. But, the truth is, if you are completely tone deaf it is never going to happen for you. It's just a reality of life. It's like me thinking I can be an Olympic swimmer. It ain't gonna happen!
TV Guide Magazine: How'd you get this gig, anyway?
DeGarmo: It was the aligning of the stars. We did a special performance of Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl for three nights this past August and [Y&R exec producer] Maria Bell happened to come see it just as they were starting to look for Angelina, which is so not the kind of character role people think of me doing. First of all, I've changed so much. People know the little 16-year-old blonde from American Idol. Now I'm 24, and definitely not blonde anymore. I'm back to being au naturel, thank goodness! Everyone at Y&R has been so nice and welcoming, which is refreshing. As you know, the entertainment industry is not so sweet all the time.
TV Guide Magazine: On that topic, after you lost the Idol crown to Fantasia you went into the Broadway company of Hairspray. As I recall, didn't that piss off a few people?
DeGarmo: There was a lot of animosity and resentment toward me at first. The New York theater community didn't like being invaded by reality stars — they still don't — but I got in there and auditioned just like everybody else. They hired me for Hairspray to help sell tickets for a few weeks, but I ended up being there much longer than originally planned and started to carve a niche for myself. I later did the revival of Hair on Broadway and the [off-Broadway] musical The Toxic Avenger, which was my first Jersey girl part!
TV Guide Magazine: And Fantasia, Constantine Maroulis, Clay Aiken and Ace Young all followed you to the Great White Way.
DeGarmo: There was a perception that reality-show people are just mere personalities, that they don't have real talent, and I worked real hard to change peoples' minds, one show at a time, and proved a lot of people wrong. I'm proud I was the first to do that for Idol on Broadway!
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!