In late March, when it was revealed that American Idol finalist Trenyce, like so many of her competitors, had a rap sheet, we naturally assumed that her fate had been sealed: She would be forever known as the poor man's Tamyra Gray. But a funny thing happened on Trenyce's way to obscurity. In the weeks that followed, the artist formerly known as Lashundra Cobbins gave one arresting performance after another. ("She's so friggin good, there ought to be a law!" we can well imagine her fellow singers complaining.) By the time she was eliminated last week, the Memphis belle proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a diva in her own right. The kid belongs on an album cover, yo, not a mug shot. Still, we're pretty sure that a crime has been committed. How else could we explain why it was the rising star who called TV Guide Online Tuesday afternoon for an exit interview and not Joshua Gracin?
TV Guide Online: People — and by people, I mean, well, me — are having a hard time understanding why you got voted off instead of Josh. Do you have a theory?
Trenyce:
I'm not exactly sure, but usually, when fans feel like they need to save you, they'll vote extra hard for you, and they automatically assume that certain people are safe. So, it could be that they really, really voted hard to keep Josh there, and then me and Ruben just got caught in the middle.

TVGO: Do you think racism was a factor?
Trenyce:
No, I don't think that's right. The voters just have to vote hard for the person that they thought did the best that night... and not so much for who is their favorite. But it was a wonderful run for me. And for my fans, I would just like to say thanks for keeping me there to fifth [place], because I didn't expect to make it that far. Seventy-thousand down to five is definitely an accomplishment for me. So, I'm good.

TVGO: What do you make of Simon's drag-queen remark?
Trenyce:
Well, the last thing he actually said was that I did a fabulous job. Unfortunately, no one remembers that statement. But as far as the drag-act comment, I thought that crossed the line a little bit. But I just decided that I'm not going to let him get to me. I knew that I did really well in my eyes. I don't think he could have said anything that was going to make me feel bad.

TVGO: How would you react if you bumped into a drag queen on the street who was impersonating you?
Trenyce:
That would be funny to me. It's a compliment, just like if a child were to impersonate me or to have their Barbie dolls named after me. I think all of that is pretty cool. I wouldn't take offense to that, and I don't think being a drag queen is offensive.

TVGO: Do you read comments on Internet message boards?
Trenyce:
(Reluctantly) Yes, I do.

TVGO: What's your reaction to what you've read?
Trenyce:
Well, for the positive comments, thanks. (Laughs) I appreciate those. I don't think the people who write on the message boards understand how some of us are affected by it. There have been some really, really hurtful things... It's very, very hard to get up there and do what we do when you read negative comments. I know that that goes along with the territory, and everybody's not going to like you, but by the same token... imagine yourself up there doing what you really, really love, and someone's constantly critiquing things that shouldn't even matter.

TVGO: What was the craziest thing you read?
Trenyce:
Hmm... I think it was that me, Ruben and Rickey had some type of fling. And there were some really, really offensive things that I can't even repeat. I don't see why anyone would waste their time going on my fan site to say something negative, but thanks for the few minutes. (Laughs) Thanks for thinking about me.

TVGO: Did you fear that your mug shot might end up on TheSmokingGun.com?
Trenyce:
No, not fear. I knew it would. I'm a pretty strong person, and it really takes a lot to get me down. It was so long ago, and I already dealt with it, so, at this point, I've been just saying to those that I meet, especially if it's a teen: "Be careful who your friends are. And take it from me, if you do get in any type of trouble in your life, it doesn't have to be an underlying statement or an underlying classification for you. You can turn your life around. You can make whatever you want happen. You can definitely overcome anything."

TVGO: Did you worry that voters would judge you for it?
Trenyce:
I knew that they would. Just being human, you tend to do that. I was hoping that my personality and my talent would overcome that, and I think it did. Like I said, I was fifth. I have no complaints at all.

TVGO: Where did you get your name from?
Trenyce:
That's my middle name. I didn't make it up. (Laughs) It's weird how some people just think I sat in my room [and made it up], and I'm all divafied and I'm just going by this one name because I think I'm going to be so successful; it's just my middle name. I'd like to think I'm pretty down-to-earth. I'm not exactly even sure that being a diva is a good thing these days. (Laughs)

TVGO: People like to compare you to Tamyra. Your thoughts?
Trenyce:
It's a compliment, because I simply adored her last year. I thought she was the most humble and the sweetest person, and I really thought that she should have won. But by the same token, I'm me and she's her. (Laughs) I'm not exactly sure how she feels about it, but I definitely see it as a compliment.

TVGO: Careerwise, what's the next step for you after this summer's American Idol tour?
Trenyce:
Definitely to open a performing-arts school in my hometown, Memphis. That's something I wanted to do even before I got on the show. And of course, pursue my singing and acting, hopefully.

TVGO: Well, those are all my questions. Tamyra, good luck to you...
Trenyce:
Trenyce!

TVGO: I mean Trenyce — oh my God, I'm so sorry. I forgot to take my meds today.
Trenyce:
(Laughs) It's okay. It's happened before.