Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspirational Women in the Entertainment Industry: Kelly Clarkson...

Kelly Clarkson has come a long way in the decade since getting her start, crowned the first-ever American Idol winner in 2002. Releasing five albums, winning two Grammys, and appearing on a number of television shows and in film appearances, Clarkson’s career is now coming full circle, as she serves as mentor to other hopeful up-and-comers in the music world on ABC’s new reality competition series Duets

“I’ve never, ever in any form of my life been in teacher mode. I’m not really that person. My mom is a teacher, but it’s really hard for me sometimes to get out of my head what I mean,” Clarkson admitted during a junket for the series. 

“[But] I’m not going to do something that I feel like I don’t fit into,” she continued. “I actually would never probably be a judge on Idol…because this is not a really a judging situation as much as it is collaborative. I like being a part of it; I don’t like when people sit there and tell me stuff but then they don’t really know-- I mean, they’re not even on stage…I like the fact that I have to be a part of it, and I’m working just as hard as them. It makes it more real, I think.” 

If there is one thing to admire most about Clarkson, it is that ability to and interest in keeping things real (“That’s Texan!” she proclaimed). Though she certainly has an edge over the other superstars on Duets, simply for having actually gone through what their contestants are now, it is her determination to stay true to herself as an artist that will be the most valuable lesson she can impart. And it doesn’t just extend to the music but also to not losing one’s self in the industry in general. 

“On Idol, they would try to put me in the most ridiculous outfits!” Clarkson exclaimed. “They tried to put me in these uncomfortable shoes and this uncomfortable thing, and I’m like ‘I’m not a model! Nowhere did I sign up to be a model; everyone’s aware of that, right?’ 

“I know everybody’s looking for the best look for everyone and the best look for the show, but at the end of the day, you really have to remember it’s about singing; it’s about entertainment…You can wear what you want. You want to be comfortable. I was that kid, too, back in the day. All the other girls loved wearing all of the clothes they gave, and I just wasn’t. I was the only Southern girl who was like ‘I wear jeans. And sometimes a nice sundress.’ I think that’s cool; that’s why we have different artists like P!nks and Lady Gagas and Ke$has and me, and it’s like we all have our own thing, and everybody has their own thing to look up to.” 

Just as knowing whom you are is important, Clarkson pointed out that so is knowing “what you’re good at.” The entertainment industry, on television or otherwise, will try to fit you in a box and package you a way they want you to work. You have to be strong enough to know when you can compromise, and when you’d be giving up too much. 

“It’s a talent to know when to shine and when to step back, and I think a lot of people aren’t good at that because everybody just wants their moment on stage all of the time,” Kelly said, referencing the “sharing” mentality of Duets

“That’s a strategy. Even when I was on Idol, I held back on some things and then I’d be like I’m saving it because maybe that will impress them and save me…My mentality on Idol was not to win actually but ‘Let’s make it to the next show.’ And then if I could make it to the next show because the more shows you get on, that’s more television time where an agent or a manager or a record label could be watching me, you know?” 

Clarkson always believes the most important thing as an artist, though, is to find a balance between thinking about the big picture and the long-term, while still having fun in the moment. Hence why she can be at the top of her game and still want to take time away from recording and producing to pay it forward and help others get their start.

“We don’t need the moment; we all have careers. We’re more here because we believe in the artist development of this, and it’s fun. I love being able to be on stage every week and sing harmony with people that I love singing with. It’s just kind of a win-win.”

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