Singer and choreographer Todrick Hall has been reflecting on his “bittersweet” American Idol audition. Raised in Texas, Hall had already appeared on Broadway in The Color Purple and a handful of other shows, when he auditioned for American Idol in August 2009. He was 24 at the time.
Hall had begun to build a following on YouTube when he auditioned for the show. He’d been out as gay to his family since the age of 15. However, he thought that being out might dent his chances on American Idol.
Therefore, he explains that he asked his boyfriend not to accompany him to the audition and took a female friend along instead. He said hiding his true self depressed him and tainted the whole experience.
“Just so not who I am or even was at the time”
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“This video is always hard for me to watch,” he said, alongside a clip of his audition.
“Getting that golden ticket was such a bittersweet moment. I was happy because against the advice of the producers of Idol I sang an original song (which was unheard of at the time) and my creativity got me through!
“I remember the first time this aired and I heard someone say, I’m your fan for the first time…it was such a weird feeling to go from being an unrecognizable muggle to someone that someone idolized in an instant.
“But, when I watch my response and my behavior in speaking to them I can just see an uncomfortable young black boy who already came out of the closet, only to feel the pressure to pretend that I hadn’t.
“The way I was moving and speaking was just so not who I am or even was at the time. I did this audition with my best friend Scott Hoying just a few people behind me, crazy. When I did this audition I was IN LOVE with my first true love, Gareth (the same guy I wrote “Color” about).
“He wanted to go to the audition with me so badly, but I was terrified that if he went I’d be outed and it would ruin my chances at success.
Hall says Gareth gave him a white rosary that he wanted him to wear when he auditioned, “So his energy could be in the room with me.
“I then had my friend Julia be there with my mom, just so to hopefully deflect from the idea that I could possibly be gay. It’s just so weird to me now,” Hall continued.
“I’m happy that I did Idol, and happy that it went the way that it did. When I got eliminated from that show, I was devastated…not because of the loss, but because I went out being someone I’m not. I vowed to myself in the car on the way home that I would never deny my true self an opportunity. I’d rather go down in flames as my real self, than go up in lights as someone I’m not.”
Hall made it through to the final 16. He was eliminated, along with three other contestants, in March 2010. However, since that time he has enjoyed a loyal following and continued success. He has appeared in several shows, released six studio albums, and undertaken world tours. He has appeared on shows such as The Masked Singer and The Real Friends of WeHo.
His time in the spotlight has not been without controversy. He has faced backlash over accusations—which he denied—of not compensating some backing dancers earlier in his career. He also received criticism for what some viewed as manipulative gameplay during his time in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2022.
Hall recently wiped his Instagram feed, suggesting a new era of music might be about to drop.
“Growing up I was already the awkward theater kid,” he recalled. “I always got along with theatre kids, with gay kids and girls, so I was like: ‘OK these are my people.’”
Check out some images of Hall’s new boo.
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