Photos: Tammi Tan, EPA
When Jessica Sanchez joined the 11th season of American Idol in 2012, she thought the furthest she would make it on the show would be as “someone walking around in the background”.
“Little did I know that I’d become the runner-up!” the 20-year-old Mexican-Filipino said with a chuckle during an interview with Toggle yesterday (October 2). Although she lost to Phillip Phillips, she still managed to build up an army of fans with her powerhouse vocals, which also impressed judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez throughout the competition.
Neither did she imagine where she’d go next: travelling the world, releasing her own records, appearing on hit TV show Glee, and even singing next to President Barack Obama at the White House. “It’s been such a blessing,” she gushed. “I’ve met so many amazing people and learned a lot; I never expected to be where I am now.”
And where she is now includes being here in Singapore for the very first time to perform at tomorrow night’s The Final 1 season 2 grand finale, which will take place at Capitol Theatre.
“I’ll be doing more ballads,” Jessica revealed when we asked what viewers can look forward to from her gig. “This is a singing competition after all, so I’ve gotta show off that voice!”
Pictured: Jessica (right) with American Idol 11 winner Phillip Phillips (left).
She won’t be the one in the running for the MediaCorp Channel 5 programme’s $100,000 recording contract prize, of course -- that’s a battle between Charlene Su and Jermaine Leong, who were unveiled as the Top 2 after Isaac Ong and Odelle Sabrin’s double departures at last weekend’s semifinals.
But no matter who is crowned at the end of the evening, Jessica had the same piece of advice for the both of them: “Stay positive, have fun, and don’t stress yourself out too much! Stay strong and believe in yourself because you’re always going to have that little bit of self-doubt, whether it’s from professional critique or haters on social media.”
Jessica certainly knows a thing or two about running into nasty netizens -- with almost 1.5 million followers on Twitter and over 167,000 on Instagram, unpleasant remarks are pretty much inevitable. “People have said I look like a monkey, and sometimes I’d see comments just asking me to ‘die’,” she shared, adding that she usually just dismisses them with a laugh.
A little bit harder to shrug off are the real-life encounters: although she did not go into specifics, she said “creepy, old, stalker-ish guys” are “not fun”.
However, she had strange yet nice incidents with fans to recount to us as well: “I met a bunch of girls who call themselves ‘Jessbians’ [a play on the words ‘Jessica’ and ‘lesbian’], and one of them pulled down her shirt and asked me to sign her breasts! It was so weird but I wasn’t going to say no.”
Having all this attention and achievements under her belt has not stopped Jessica from being an extreme workaholic, whether she’s in the studio or on the road. “I don’t want to take any breaks, I just want to work, work, work,” she declared. “I want to get to the top, and it’s hard because everyone is doing the same thing and you have to stand out.”
She later continued, “I think a lot of singing competition contestants who think that they’re all that need to know that they have to keep working hard because it’s like, after the show, what are you going to do? It just harder and harder to keep yourself in the limelight. I never felt like I’ve made it because I set higher goals for myself and I haven’t achieved them yet.” (Sounds like more advice, albeit indirect one, for The Final 1 contenders.)
One of Jessica's aforementioned "higher goals" is, unsurprisingly, to win a Grammy award. Another is to embark on a world tour where every show successfully sells out. “Those are big accomplishments and every musician’s dream,” she mused.
Well, at a mere 20 years of age, plus her natural talent and willingness to toil and hustle, we think she has quite the potential to see these dreams come to pass.
Catch The Final 1 season 2 grand finals at 8pm on October 4, LIVE on Channel 5. The winner will be decided via public voting, so look out for the cue to show your support for your favourite contestant.
For more information and features on The Final 1, visit our microsite.